5 Tips for Working Smarter, Not Harder

By May 18, 2016Strategy

Entrepreneurs, office-goers and freelancers alike are faced with the same work-life challenge: leading a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life instead of chronic stress and burnout. The art of enjoying your work comes down to being in control of your resources – time and creative energy. This shifts the focus of your workday to being productive and effective instead of “busy.” Here a few tips for working smarter:

  1. Guard Your Calendar—Make sure your time is focused on your one or two top priorities. Of course, if you work closely with others, it’s important to check in before you start your workday to make sure you’re on the same page (either by checking email or a project management platform like Wrike). You can even identify your top to-dos the night before so it’s easy to jump right in the next day. It can be helpful to use resources like RescueTime to turn off all social media sites and email for blocks of time.

  2. Practice Mindfulness – Mindfulness essentially means moment-to-moment awareness and being fully present. Incorporating mindfulness into your workday is a way of reprogramming your mind to think in healthier, less stressful ways, not to mention greatly increasing performance. This can include giving your full attention to your given task at hand, listening fully when someone is talking in a meeting, asking questions when you are not clear on something or taking three conscious breaths during transitions between tasks. Don’t expect perfection—perfection is in the practice.

  3. Flow, Then Take Breaks—Working in “chunks” helps focus the mind on one task and get in a flow. This might mean turning off pings and notifications from email and social media (see tip #1). I find the Pomodoro Technique helpful when trying to focus. Then, allow yourself to take breaks. Look away from your screen, take a walk or socialize. Breaks keep us from getting bored (unfocused), aid in retention of information, and help recharge for the next task at hand.

  4. Check Your Attitude—Take a moment every day to be grateful. “Where attention goes, energy flows.”

  5. Learn As Much As You Can—Where you are today is a reflection of the skills and experiences that got you there. Where do you want to be tomorrow? By getting better at what you do and how you do it, you become more valuable to your team, clients, customers, and company. Today, self-development comes in a lot of forms and flavors: Tim Ferriss, Marie Forleo, Seth Godin, Brené Brown, Richard Branson, Shawn Achor, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and the omnipresent Oprah to name a few. Some great books include: How to Win Friends & Influence People, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Influence, Outliers and Man’s Search for Meaning. Never stop exploring.

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