Are you working smarter or harder?
I asked this question recently on Facebook and several people responded with specific ways they’re eliminating or automating tasks, making checklists for routine activities so they don’t miss anything, and letting go of being perfect by just doing their best. Others responded that they’re exhausted or working harder to pick up the slack and still others felt there was no point or meaning to work at all.
Its crucial to stop and reflect on working smart.
- Are you doing the work and having the life you want?
- Are you spending your time on activities you feel are important?
- Are you finding time to rejuvenate?
Defining Working Smarter
Next week I’ll be doing a 3 hour seminar on working smarter not harder for 60+ attorneys and staff in Philadelphia. Here are some of the tips I’ll be sharing with them so that you too can benefit from having the kind of work/life balance that makes you happy.
In preparation for this seminar, I read some great books, interviewed some very productive people and researched articles online. Here’s some of what I found to help you work smarter not harder:
- Do your most thought-provoking work first and protect that time. Don’t squander your mornings responding to emails or doing administrative work if you don’t have to. Do projects that require focus, thinking, research, digesting information, analyzing and making conclusions or decisions. Protect this time from interruptions but if you must drop what you’re doing for something else more pressing – organize and capture your thoughts before moving on. It will give you a roadmap to come back to your thinking much faster. (Note: Studies show it takes 25 minutes to return to where you left off after an interruption – see source.)
- Don’t wait for the pressure of a deadline to get started. It’s easy to focus on the urgent tasks that are do now but that can land you in a mode where you’re constantly putting out fires. While that can be exciting at first, it can also lead to burn out (no pun intended). Look down the line, check your calendar for upcoming deadlines. Map out a schedule a few weeks or a month out so that everyday your working on an important aspect of some project (even one that’s not immediately due). You might even find synergies between projects so that you can group activities together and work even more efficiently and effectively.
- Take full advantage of the flexibility you have to work the way that’s best for you. I’ve worked with many people who want better work/life balance. They come to me and feel they have no way of making what they want work where they are. But that’s often not true. Even if you’re not sure how you can make your ideal schedule a reality in your current job, it helps to map out your ideal schedule. In 3 hour increments, write down the activities you want to fill your day and include how you want to feel at the beginning, middle and end of each day. Now you’re ready to have a conversation with your boss about what’s feasible where you are. Most of my clients after doing this found they didn’t even need to talk to their boss to implement the tweaks and changes to their schedule that would make the most difference.
Overall, remember that no one can pigeonhole you but you. If you’re feeling stuck in a schedule or work situation that’s not working for you, stop and reflect on what you’d like to have in your dream job. If you want or need help, contact me and check out the special offer on my Soul Search, Research and Job Search materials for a limited time. Crafting the kind of schedule you want, helps you see how it’s possible. There’s no need to wait. Get started now on and you’ll soon be posting your own tips on my Facebook page on how you’re working smarter not harder.
“One day or day one. You decide.” – Unknown