Monday, February 25, 2019

3 Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Everyone has heard the expression "work smarter, not harder."

If you're like me, that's often easier said than done. When you're under pressure from your boss, or you're trying to juggle multiple projects, you might forget all about such advice, and find yourself working 12-hour days.

Of course, you're not really clear about what you're getting done -- but you did answer 100 emails, send 100 emails and create a paperwork blizzard on your desk. Yes, indeedy! Your boss will be impressed with your productivity, right?

Wrong. Your boss is wondering why you are working so many hours, seem to be buried under paper and still haven't made progress on that key project.

Here's where you need to stop and repeat after me: Work smarter. Not harder.

Let's look at some ways to do that before your paperwork buries you like a late-season snowstorm:

1. The boss's goals are your goals. Sure, you'd like to answer emails and send emails, but is that what your boss wants done? The best way to work smart is to always say to yourself: "What is the boss's priority? Am I working on that?" Only when you've got the boss's goals taken care of can you move onto something else.

2. Clearly communicate. If someone comes to you and wants your help, clearly state why you can or cannot help. "I can help you tomorrow if I get the boss's request done. There is the chance she'll ask me to do something else, and that takes priority. If you want to wait, I'm happy to let you know when I'm done." No one is going to argue with that reasoning, and it clearly shows why you can't jump to another task. If the boss comes to you with another request (or several), get a clear indication from her about how she would like your energies directed -- the task she wants done first, second, third, etc.

3. Be intentional. If using Facebook or Twitter or Instagram isn't a part of your job, don't even look at it during work hours. Save it for break times, and then only allot a certain amount of time. You're really better off recharging your batteries -- and working smarter -- if you use your break times to take a walk or eat something nutritious. When you set parameters about how to use your time during work hours, you will stay in your lane and stop drifting to "busy" work or tasks not related to the job at hand.

You may believe that you are a good worker because you're always busy, busy, busy! But if you're hiding behind meaningless work, the boss will not see you as a valuable member of her team. Only when you're directly contributing to helping her meet her goals and contributing to the success of the organization will you truly be working smart.

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