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10 Ways to Actually Work Smarter

Use the 80/20 Rule

Use the 80/20 Rule

... to constantly question yourself if your focus, time or money is on the things that generate the majority of the results.

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle states: 80% of the output or results will come from 20% of the input or action. The little things are the ones that account for the majority of the results.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

10 Ways to Actually Work Smarter

10 Ways to Actually Work Smarter

https://www.dansilvestre.com/how-to-be-productive/

dansilvestre.com

10

Key Ideas

Focus on Systems Instead of Goals

Most goals are out of our control. We have limited control to reach them. In a system, your focus is on all the parts that you do control. And system is a fancy word for “repeatable process”.

For example: running a marathon is a goal, running 4 days a week for 30 minutes is a repeatable process. 

Leverage the Compound Effect

When you focus on developing systems and work every day, your work compounds over time, developing exponential growth. 

The more advantages you create, the more your next advantages pay off. A 1% gain every day compounds to almost 38x increase over a year.

Measure Output, Not Input

Systems are the best way to progress since they reward effort and we control all the variables. However, we need to have a sense of direction in those efforts, to know what we are trying to accomplish

Writing daily with no objective is just practice. If you want to achieve something, you need to commit to a certain output, like publishing a post on your blog weekly. At the end of the day, a system is a way to control how to achieve an output.

Use the 80/20 Rule

... to constantly question yourself if your focus, time or money is on the things that generate the majority of the results.

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle states: 80% of the output or results will come from 20% of the input or action. The little things are the ones that account for the majority of the results.

Reserve Mornings for Deep Work

Our working memory, alertness, and concentration gradually improve a couple of hours after waking up, peaking at about mid-morning - our brain’s natural peak productivity period.

Take advantage of this state, by scheduling your most important work for this period. Focus on performing Deep Work, meaning you get to work free of distraction for a long period of time.

3 Types of Distractions

  • Physical: they range from the clutter on your desk or having too many clothes, making it harder to choose an outfit in the morning. 
  • Intangible: notifications from your phone, random web browsing sessions without an end in mind, convoluted apps and systems that take more time to manage than to do the actual work.
  • People: the annoying coworker who keeps interrupting you or that friend that you always give more than you receive. 

Automate Repetitive Tasks

More automation means more time to focus on creative and productive work.

Start by listing down all the tasks that you have to do recurrently every week. Then find ways to automate them, either by using or building your own system. It doesn’t matter what you do, you’ll always have recurring tasks.

Be Data-Driven

You should always make data-driven decisions. If you don’t, you are choosing to go with your opinion with no facts to back it up.

It starts by questioning everything: do I think this way because it’s my opinion/other people say so/it’s how the world works or because I’ve tested it? 

Growth comes from hard work and a little luck. Hyper-growth comes from testing.

Delegate the Non-Essential

No one is the best at everything. By focusing on what you do best and delegating the rest, you optimize your productivity. 

Unless you have to develop a new skill, it’s always better to find someone already skilled at something to complete that task.

The Struggle Is the Process

Some days are great, some days are good, some days are bad. Embrace the struggle: this is the space where breakthroughs come from.

And when you finally find something that works, it’s a magical time. But no one is going to clap. So you must do it for yourself. Learn to enjoy the small victories.

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Work Around Your Energy Levels

Productivity is directly related to your energy level.

Find your most productive hours — the time of your peak energy — and schedule Deep Work for those periods. Do low-value and low-energy tasks (also known as shallow work), such as responding to emails or unimportant meetings, in between those hours.

Plan Your Day the Night Before

Before going to bed, spend 5 minutes writing your to-do list for the next day. These tasks should help you move towards your professional and personal goals.

You’ll be better prepared mentally for the challenges ahead before waking up and there won’t be any room for procrastination in the morning. As a result, you’ll work faster and smoother than ever before.

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Working Harder isn’t the Answer

We do it because it's the most visible form of productivity.

It is a way to prove to others that you are doing stuff and checking things off the list.

The Dose-Response Theory

Hard work is necessary in order to be productive, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

At some point, you start to be negatively productive.

Prioritize Tasks by Energy Level

It means scheduling your time according to your natural rhythms:

  • Do your most important work at the beginning of the day if you are a morning person.
  • Don't feel bad about sleeping in because you stayed up late at night to work if you are a night owl.

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Personal Mission Statement

It consists of thinking long and hard about your life and work. Write down everything that is on your mind, then consider what is most important.

  • You want to know where you want to go...
Acknowledging Progress

Progress can sometimes feel like endless staircases where you climb and climb, but can never see the end.

A personal mission statement allows you to look back and see how far you've climbed.

Putting Things Into Perspective

A personal mission statement reminds you where you're coming from and puts your life in perspective. When you feel frustrated, you can go back and read how much you've progressed over a specific time.

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Trim the fat

Multitasking and directing your energy to unimportant tasks and activities will overwhelm and prevent you from being productive.

Focus on your 3 to 5 ...

Measure your results

To assist you with measuring results instead of time, keep done lists to feel more motivated and focused.

Have an attitude adjustment

We are more effective at work when we have a positive attitude. 

good attitude at work will help you set standards for your work and ensure that you're taking responsibility for yourself.

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Rethinking the 8-hour workday
Rethinking the 8-hour workday

Knowledge workers aren't factory workers. There is no direct correlation between how much time they spend on the job and their output.

For knowledge workers, the 8-hour workday doesn’t make s...

Quality vs Quantity of Time

The structure of most working environments punishes people for efficiency and rewards them for looking busy. We need to shift our focus from the number of hours spent on something to the quality generated.

Build the Right Environment

To make a 3-hour workday feasible, design the right environment to make it possible.

  • Behavior is the result of environment. If you have many apps open, you’ll be more likely to be distracted.
  • Eliminate the need for willpower. Think of willpower like a bank balance. For every decision you make, you spend a unit. Design the right environment, so you avoid depleting all of your willpower.

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The philosophy of working "smart"

... is to maximize your productivity when you are working so that you can get more stuff done in shorter periods of time.

By working smarter, you'll find yourself with more time in th...

Find the to-do list app that work for you

The best one for you depends entirely on your working style and personal preferences.

You can use a physical notebook around everywhere you go, but it's easier to use a to-do list app or tool that syncs across all your devices. That way, you can access your to-do items whenever and wherever you need to, whether you're at your desk, in a meeting, or on a business trip.

Prepare in advance

Write out your to-do list the day before:

  • You'll free your time to dive right into your to-do list in the morning - one of the most productive times of day.
  • It can help you spot obstacles ahead of time and prepare accordingly.
  • Knowing what you have going on well in advance could help you relax and sleep better the night before.

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The organized workspace

The general condition of your living environment affects your personal productivity.

A well organized work space makes you feel in control, and clearly focus and define areas that may ...

Tips to organize your office space

  • De-clutter your space, empty, shred and get rid of literally any frivolous thing that adds no value to your productivity.
  • Organize with colors and labels, to put items in the right places.
  • Use storage boxes & containers to help you stay organized.
  • Segment your work zones to help trigger a better output.
  • Organize your desk accessories: everything from your stationeries, laptop, files, and trays.
  • De-clutter and organize your Laptop/Desktop by deleting those folders, pictures or softwares that you don’t need. 

Time blocking
Time blocking

It's the practice of planning out every moment of your day in advance and dedicating specific time “blocks” for certain tasks and responsibilities.

When you fill your c...

Time blocking and focus

By scheduling every minute of your day you not only guard against distraction but also multiply your focus.

Also, focusing on one task at a time can make you up to 80% more productive than splitting your attention across multiple tasks.

Cons of the time blocking practice
  • It takes a lot of time and effort.
  • Few of us (if any) have the same schedule every day.
  • We’re bad at estimating how long tasks will take to do.
  • Constant interruptions and “urgent” tasks can destroy your system.
  • Flexibility is key in most workplaces.
  • You can lose sight of the bigger picture if you focus just on each day.

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Track and limit your time spent

Only around 17 % of people are able to accurately estimate the passage of time. 

Using the right tool can help by letting you know exactly how...

Take regular breaks

Taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration. 

Some research has shown that taking short breaks during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance.

Set self-imposed deadlines

A manageable level of self-imposed stress can actually be helpful in terms of giving us focus and helping us meet our goals. 

For open-ended tasks or projects, try giving yourself a deadline, and then stick to it. 

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Keep your high-energy times open

Sallie Krawcheck, founder and CEO of Ellevest (a goal-based investing platform for women):

"I have spent a lot of time figuring out how I work b...

Focus on the 5%

Bedros Keuilian, founder and CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp (group fitness training brand):

"Only 5% of the things I do are tasks that actually move the money needle, and those were the critical things that I needed to focus on 100% of the time. Everything else can be delegated to team members or subcontractors who have the skill sets and abilities to perform the job. This has been a game-changer for my business as we continue to have massive growth year after year."

Eliminate interruptions

Dustin Moskovitz, CEO of Asana (productivity and project management platform):

"We practice “No Meeting Wednesdays” to ensure that everyone at the company gets a large block of time to focus on heads-down work without having to fit it in between meetings. This may be our most valuable cultural practice, and I encourage every company to consider adopting it. Additionally, we reflect frequently on whether our group activities are getting enough ROI to justify the interrupt and time expenditure. "

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