Improve Your Productivity - Step 4: Work Smarter, Not Longer/Harder

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Improve Your Productivity - Step 4: Work Smarter, Not Longer/Harder

"Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein."- H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Do you know people who are always running from one task to another? Perhaps you wished that you could get as much done as they do.

But have you ever actually taken note of just what they've accomplished? You might be surprised to find out that in all their busy-ness, they're not getting as much accomplished as you thought. Instead, they might just be fulfilling an idea that they need to stay busy and, as a result, end up wasting time on menial tasks.

This would be a great time to go back and read the first article in this series – Improve Your Productivity – Step 1: Adopt a Positive Attitude.

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The best time management is about working smarter rather than longer or harder. How do you do that?

Plan, Plan, Plan

The idea of planning might scare you. But give it a try. It could be the most important change you could make.
  • At the end of your day when the following day's work is fresh in your mind, take just a few minutes to make a general plan for the next day. Then stick to your plan as much as possible.
  • Use a calendar like Google Calendar and/or organizer like DayViewer. Set time limits for each task so that you don't use up too much time on a particular job. You might be surprised that you can finish a task within a time limit when previously, you would have spent much longer on it.
  • Know your deadlines and mark them on your calendar/organizer. In fact, target them earlier than the real deadline to give yourself a cushion for revisions, second thoughts, etc.
  • Leave time for breaks in between each task. Around 10 minutes should be good. Shorter won't give you enough of a break, and longer might make it difficult to get back to work.
Improve Your Productivity - Step 4: Work Smarter, Not Longer/Harder

Focus, Focus, Focus

Many people seem proud to say that they're multi-tasking – as if that means they're getting more done. In fact, studies show that multi-tasking often leads to getting less done rather than more.
  • When you plan your day, prioritize the important tasks and work on them first rather than leaving them for last.
  • Focus on each task in your plan at the time you've allotted for it. Have a clock in front of you. Make it a large one so that you're continuously aware of how much time you have left for each task.
  • Set alarms 10 or 15 minutes prior to deadlines so that you can give extra energy in the final push to complete the task.
  • Don't obsess over unimportant details. Doing so is ineffective and a waste of your valuable time.
  • Eliminate time wasters. Check the tips in Improve Your Productivity – Step 2: Banish Distractions.

Tips like these can help you enjoy what you're doing instead of dreading it. If you're not enjoying your work, then it's time to ask yourself how you can revise your daily routine so that you enjoy getting up every morning and doing your tasks.

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Author: Kate Benzin

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