5 Ways to Work Smarter and Stay Productive
If you want to see signs of improvements in your work and life, you can invest to work more energy or put in more hours. You can drive yourself to accomplish more, stay at work longer than required and skirt a portion of the fun stuff so as to accomplish more.
No matter how hard you try, you’ve still got only 24 hours in a day to work, eat, and sleep. Interestingly, if you try to push yourself too much in the long-run you are likely going to do worsen things up as your health, personal relations and work-life balance suffer from it. Plus, you will quickly get stressed out when you’re working 60+ hours a week.
In fact, there are several effective ways to get more done and achieve better results while not having to exhaust yourself out, and all of that within 24 hours of the day!
Personally, I’ve experienced that most of the times it’s completely a waste of effort to work harder and longer on a task if you can rather get the same task done within the designated time by working smarter.
Honestly, most clever people will advise the same:
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
– Abraham Lincoln
And that is why, in this blog article, I will be sharing my top 5 most effective productivity tips that have helped me to work smart and achieve results, and if you start using them, they most likely will help you get better results too. So let’s begin!
Productivity Tip #1: Avoid The Work Smarter vs Work Harder Trap
You read that right. While the article is all about working smarter and most productivity experts will tell repeat the same mantra, it’s much easier to fall into this trap of always trying to look out for ways to work smarter.
It might sound confusing, but if you try to understand that once we prepare our mind to always focus on productivity, we easily get obsessed with doing every single work smarter so that we are more efficient and we save time. This can also result in having a negative impact on the quality of your work.
But the important thing here that most people will probably fail to understand is you can’t really save the time! Time is not some paper currency that could be accumulated in a certain duration neither it will stop if you get something done in allocated duration. Time is supposed to keep moving and won’t stop for anyone no matter you work too fast or too slow.
Remember, you will come across work jobs that require you to spend some hours on it and get the final deliverable fully ready without a need for revision. Whereas some jobs will require identifying priority tasks and performing quick iterations to get the deliverables ready that could be perfected over the time. Always be flexible to adjusting to the smart and the hard ways.
(The only trick here is to accept when you are ready to switch off that laptop or computer and not fill up your time with additional workload!)
Productivity Tip #2: Expect Failures and Defeat Psychosis
When failure occurs, chaos and negative expectations does tend to happen. While most people won’t be much affected, there are always some people who will get obsessed near to psychosis fearing that this failure will become a trend from that point onwards.
DON’T BE THIS PERSON!
It’s very essential to understand that whether it’s a new business venture or a new office project, certain amount of risk is always involved no matter how solid the research and execution is.
Make sure to highlight the major risks involved in a particular project before the project is even initiated. For example, if you are about to begin a website development work for a client, you need to write down somewhere about the major risks involved and the immediate solution for each risk, such as in case you fell sick you will assign duties to colleague X, or if your developer meets an accident and is unable to work for next few weeks then a backup freelance developer is available to handle the job.
So with that strategy, even if a planned task goes wrong then failure should already be expected rather than feared. With that said, if you are not learning a new lesson with every failure and if you are not able to analyze what went wrong, that’s the real failure!
Productivity Tip #3: Set Crystal Clear Goals Using A Productivity Tracking Tool
One of the main reasons why majority people are unfocused and struggle with being productive is because they don’t exactly know what to do today, tomorrow, and a day after tomorrow. In short, they end up with only procrastinating about goals they wish they’ll achieve.
I personally prefer using a very simple Kanban board with 3-columns namely To-Do, In Progress, and Completed. Kanban approach helps you to list down all majority tasks in to-do column and move tasks to in progress and then to the completed column. With this technique, you can find transparency and accountability in each task you perform. Plus, Kanban is now available in most popular productivity platforms like Trello, MeisterTask and Freedcamp etc.
Furthermore, I always carry a moleskine in my bag and have a sticky notepad on my work desk to write down all minor tasks to be done. The reason for writing manual notes is because I don’t clutter my main to-do tasks with several details and avoid micro-managing.
But here’s a catch… you plan for tasks to be completed by tomorrow or by day after tomorrow, but only few asks what about right now.
You see before you spend hours in planning out an entire week full of new tasks and to-dos, start out with what you need to do right now. This will allow you to keep things straightforward and very simple from day one.
Producitivty Tip #4: Use Your Smartphone The Smart Way
Sometimes it’s way much better to pick up your smartphone and call the person directly rather than writing down a detailed email and sending it out, especially if it’s an important or urgent discussion. It helps you drastically cut down the communication time and get responses much faster.
For this exact purpose, we built Mimik – our flagship call recorder app for iPhone and Web.
So every time you have an important thing to discuss with any of your peers or clients, make sure you record the call so that it’s much easier for you to listen to the recordings at a later point.
Here’s a demo of Mimik in action:
Productivity Tip #5: Improve Your Time Management
So if you are completely new to productivity skills and haven’t had an earlier experience on how to become super productive at work, I recommend you to start using a basic time tracking tool. There are tons of free ones available for you to download and all of these time trackers are almost identical in features. You can just Google for “Free time tracking tool” to get an idea.
The reason for time tracking at work is not to count desk time but to identify estimated time you spend on completing a specific task. When you are tracking time and monitoring it on a daily basis, it naturally becomes your habit to do the exact same task at a faster pace and in less time.
If you will keep procrastinating or think too much, you will end up getting nothing in hand. Change only happens when you take action. Therefore, I strongly recommend you to understand and remember tip #1 and #2 as these two are foundational concepts and then start planning your first to-do task from now if not today or tomorrow.
To simplify, pick out any one of the remaining 3 explained productivity techniques so that you can avoid all distractions and can get better results in less time by working smarter.