The New Year always comes with great expectations, a feeling of renewal, the time to finally conquer goals and start the things we’ve been dreaming of, or, perhaps, time to reflect on the past year and push forward.
So how do we maximize time without increasing efforts or spreading ourselves too thin and keep it going for 365 days a year? How do we keep on to-do lists and not become overwhelmed by a full calendar and still, perhaps, even take on more things that the universe throws at us as the year progresses?
Even more important, how do we keep moving forward but still have time for the finer things in a life: family, friends, fun, the amazingness of a comfortable couch and streaming videos.
The answer:WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER.
Here are some tips that will keep you going at a normal clip without sacrificing life’s pleasures.
1) MAKE A TO-DO LIST
Lists help to keep you organized and on a step-by-step track toward goals or creating opportunities, as well as keeping the work and commitments on task.
Perhaps even take the lists a step further and create separate lists for each task/goal or opportunity. Not having one single list will make it easier to only focus on your most important objectives without the distraction of the others nagging you everytime you seek out your list for the next actionable item.
And, yes, there may be crossovers between each list, but there can be more satisfaction in completing tasks this way. Separated but duplicated “to do’s” means taking that red pen on not just one but two lists, potentially fooling your brain and that familiar inner voice creeping in when you just don’t want to work anymore that wow you’ve accomplished even more then you thought you would.
I also recommend keeping those lists in an inspirational or decorative journal or notebook. No losing lists means no excuses of not knowing what things are next and/or needing to be done.
Of course, the feeling of accomplishment will ensue by revisiting old lists and seeing all those cross-offs. Relish in the new lists that stream from their successes. It will keep you smartly on track and making lists for years to come.
2) FIND BALANCE
Life is all about multi-tasking and juggling all your to do’s, lists and commitments in the smartest and most efficient way possible.
Do TWO to FIVE things every day toward each of your goals/opportunities or lists representing thereof. By the power of compound interest things WILL happen. You will soon be breathing an air of calm when you realize that in doing 2-5 things everyday you could have up to 35 tasks done in a week, 70 tasks done in a month and so on.
The feeling of not having to work at warp speed nor accomplish everything in a short amount of time will bring calm to the mind and freedom to enjoy your other activities.
In working toward goals, commitments and/or achieving certain levels or success in entrepreneurship it is sometimes hard to discern what seems most absolute and necessary to work on first.
Prioritize workload by choosing to do the things that allow for the quickest and biggest payoff first. Ask yourself which 2-5 things on your list(s) that bring you closest to your end goal that you can actually do without accomplishing the other tasks/things first.
Start with these and do them first. You will, in turn, get further faster rather than wasting time on non-essential items. Save those non-essential time guzzlers and/or building block items for a rainy day.
4) JUST BEGIN
Still torn about how to prioritize your workload? Maybe most of your actionable items weigh equally on your to-do list.
Well, the smartest thing to do is not waste precious time thinking about which step to take. You could be thinking and deciding how to move forward and in that time already finished a work task to begin with. No stalling and no overthinking. Sometimes seizing the day and taking a step forward is the smartest choice of all.
Working smarter and not harder can be as simple as getting more like-minded people on board for your projects and split the work.
In addition with collaboration you also reap the rewards of more ideas, more networking capabilities, more monetary investments, more inspiration, more accountability and the list goes on and on. There is power in collaboration so be smart and embrace it.
5) ASK FOR HELP
While some are schooled and/or more experienced in certain facets of life, career or family and you are not,that doesn’t mean what you want is not obtainable.
You have ideas? You want a new career? You have goals that you are not quite sure how to reach?
Take the smart approach! If there is something out there you want or need and don’t know the steps to take, ask those who are already in the know for help. You have absolutely nothing to lose and if someone isn’t interested in spreading their newfound knowledge, keep asking until you find someone who will. This, in most cases is a much smarter move timewise then wasting your precious time flaying around until you’ve finally gotten what you want/need. That search can take months and years. Not to mention the disappointment and heartache.
Searching for someone to help you may take a few emails or asking your peers and others in your network, but that is something that will come around much quicker. Not only do you gain the knowledge you are looking for straight from the source, but you may also open up new forms of collaboration and introductions to people you have never met before.
Now that is a gold mine! So ask away!
If you are a numbers person or one who likes to follow a point-A-to- point-B approach, why not try to embrace your creative spirit. The smartest way to accomplish things isn’t always the most linear approach. Consider stepping outside your box and allow new ways of thinking. Maybe taking the “scenic route” will lead to inspirations, revelations and new ways to approach your goals, collaborations, entrepreneurial ideas, to-do lists and so much more.
Be accountable to doing your few “to do’s” or work-related tasks everyday so that you are not trying to make up time (which in reality you can never make up lost time) or pick up steam when there isn’t any to be had after a long day’s work, an emergency or who knows what else.
Think of being accountable like saving your money. Just a few cents in savings a day or a small percentage out of a paycheck every week leads to big gains.
On the flip side, but also essential for the health of mind and body, is being accountable to yourself to step away from the work so you can rejuvenate and rest. To keep on keeping on in the smartest and most efficient way possible, it’s essential so that you can come back with a renewed sense of spirit everyday. Not just when January 1 rolls around.
While to-do lists are definitely part of being organized in the idea of working smarter not harder, so is organizing everything and anything work related. The time wasted finding things in cluttered desks, messy file cabinets, mail piles, inboxes and document folders are detrimental to having a smart and efficient work life. Clean them up. Make them orderly. And if it’s something you need often make sure it is quickly accessible and at your fingertips.
Working smarter not harder does require commitment.
You need to be willing to not sweat the small stuff. It’s important to think smart and ask yourself any time you start a work-related task: Does this task affect my end goal? Is it time well spent? Does the output equal the rewards? If the answer is a resounding yes, then keep on keeping on. If not, move right on. Onward and upward to the smarter and more efficient you!