Work smarter, not harder

Chances are there are times when work can start to get the better of you. You can feel like you’re overwhelmed sometimes with just too much to fit in the day and not enough hours in the day. Working longer hours – staying late, coming in early, constantly checking your emails when you’re at home can seem like the only way to manage, but its also going to leave you feeling burnt out, tired, stressed and not enjoying your day to day life!

The solution? Work smarter!

Here are our top tips for working smarter and more efficiently and getting more work done in the day:

  • Focus on one task at a time – got a report to do, got lots of documents to read, a presentation to work on? You need to allocate time specifically to doing that one task and ensure your focus is only on that. It’s easy to get distracted by seeing emails that are coming in/answering calls or listening to the office small talk – none of this is going to help you! Block out the time that you think you will need to complete the task, switch off your emails, divert your phone to voicemail and focus only on that – you will get the task done a lot quicker! Why not also put your headphones in and listen to some music while you do it to help block out distractions? Also, let your colleagues know that you’re not “being anti-social” but for the next hour or so you’re going to be “head down” focusing on that task.
  • Block out time in your diary on a Friday for the next week – before you leave on a Friday, go through your to do list for the following week and block out specific times for the week ahead to complete that report that’s due, reviewing those documents, check your emails etc. Don’t forget to include time for lunch, any fitness classes you do as well so that meetings don’t get booked in for those times. You’ll leave for the weekend then feeling better that you have a plan to achieve what you need do for the next week.
  • Buy a work diary – these days we tend to live our lives online – but we still see the virtue in sometimes doing things the old fashioned way and a work diary is one of those things! Buy an A4 sized diary with one page per day and use it not only to write your to do list for each day, but to jot down any key points from meetings you attended that day. That way, you have easy to find notes from every meeting you have been to, as well as clear task lists for each day.
  • Make your meetings more efficient – if you work in a corporate company then no doubt a lot of your week is spent in meetings – companies love a good meeting! Often meetings are booked in for an hour at a time and they eat up a lot of time from your day. If you do attend a lot of meetings, make sure they are as a focussed as possible  and you make the best use of the time you have – set and send out a clear agenda before the meeting, confirm the agenda before the meeting, take notes and if there are any discussions that start to take over the meeting that aren’t directly on topic, politely recommend that they are taken “offline” and a separate call/meeting is set up to cover that particular point. Why not try setting your next meeting for 30 or 45 minutes rather than a full hour and really focus the discussion on the key points?
  • Be more mindful of office small talk – we love a gossip as much as the next person and let’s face it, you spend a lot of time with the people you work with so it’s important to spend time building those relationships and making friends at work. Having said this, if you work with people who like a chat, it can take up a lot of time in the day! We’re not suggesting that you don’t get involved in the office chit-chat but don’t let it take over your day and result in you then having to spend your free time doing work!
  • Get out at lunchtime – even if it’s only for a 10 minute walk around the block, make sure you get outside during the day to get some fresh air and clear your mind. This is especially important if you’re having a really busy day – taking a few minutes to have a wander and get some fresh air will help you focus for the rest of the day on those important tasks.
  • Be respectful to your free time – if you’re not respectful of your own time then no one else will be. You need to acknowledge that your free time outside of work is precious and you need to be able to switch off and give your mind a rest. Sometimes going above and beyond or putting in a bit of extra effort/overtime is a good thing and it’s good to show your employer that you are dedicated, but if you are constantly responding to emails late at night/very early in the morning and accepting and making calls outside of work time, think about the message you are sending to other people – they will then come to expect you are always available and will no doubt then become more demanding at all hours of the day and night. Respect your own time and others will start to as well!