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Work Smarter, Not Harder: 10 Ways to Be More Effective at Work

Communication skills

Strengthen your communication skills to eliminate unnecessary rework and wasted time from misunderstandings.

Stay on one topic when communicating. Don't add too much information since it might confuse the recipient.

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Work Smarter, Not Harder: 10 Ways to Be More Effective at Work

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 10 Ways to Be More Effective at Work

https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/work-smarter-not-harder-10-ways-to-be-more-effective-at-work.html

inc.com

10

Key Ideas

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 most urgent tasks on your to-do-list. Focus on one task at a time.

At least one of your Most Important Tasks should be related to your goals.

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.

Communication skills

Strengthen your communication skills to eliminate unnecessary rework and wasted time from misunderstandings.

Stay on one topic when communicating. Don't add too much information since it might confuse the recipient.

Stick to a routine

We can carry out tasks faster if we can work on autopilot.

Automate more tasks

The secret to getting more things done is to make them automatic.

Automate tasks so you do not have to spend energy and self-discipline with unnecessary decisions.

Stop multitasking

People can't multitask very well. they're simply shifting their attention from one task to another very quickly.

Instead of multitasking, take a breather and then go back to focus on the one thing that needs to get done right now. Once that's done, move on to the next task.

Parkinson's Law

"If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do."

We are more energized to do a task when the task has a shorter timeframe to complete. Impose shorter deadlines for your tasks.

Relieve stress

The most effective stress-relief strategies are exercising, praying, reading, listening to music, spending time with friends or family, getting a massage, going outside for a walk, meditating, doing a creative hobby.

Another effective stress management technique is to plan ahead. 

Do more of the work you enjoy

Focus more on the work that you actually enjoy doing.

You'll feel more fulfilled, inspired, challenged, and productive.

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Focus on Systems Instead of Goals
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”...

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.

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Happiness

Happiness and satisfaction are subjective concepts – while for some of us monetary benefits can be equated with job satisfaction, some might strive for recognition of their hard-work and los...

Workplace Happiness defined

In a fundamental sense, workplace happiness comes when:

  • We enjoy doing the tasks assigned to us
  • We feel right about the people we are working with
  • We are happy with the financial benefits we get from the job
  • We have the scope of improving our existing skills
  • We feel respected and acknowledged at work
Importance Of Happiness At Work

Happy employees are compulsory for a growing business.

A study on organizational success revealed that employees who feel happy in the workplace are 65% more energetic than employees who don’t. They are two times more productive and are more likely to sustain their jobs over a long period of time.

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Mindfulness at work
Mindfulness at work

Means being consciously present in what you’re doing, while you’re doing it, as well as managing your mental and emotional state. 

If you’re writing a report, mindfulness requires...

1 min/session

That’s the minimum required for a mini-mediation.

Just focus on your sense. You don’t need to close your eyes. You don’t even need to be sitting down.

Use Mindful Reminders

You can use interruptions as hooks to make you more mindful.

Every time your phone rings, take a mindful breath. Every time you hear the ping of a text message, pause to be mindful of your surroundings rather than immediately reacting by checking the message. 

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Writing The List In The Morning

Although it might feel natural to create your to-do list first thing in the morning, it's too late.
Writing the list at the end of the day allows you to leave work behind and tra...

Including Too Many Tasks

Ideally, create a ‘top three’ tasks at the beginning of your to-do list. 

Long lists are a problem because most people aren’t aware that “we only have about three to six good hours of work in us each day.”

People also tend to underestimate how long a task takes. 

Including Someday Items

Aspirational tasks, like writing a book, don’t belong on a to-do list; instead, create a separate bucket list. 

Daily to-do lists should be focused. If you have a big project you want to complete, you can put it on your to-do list if you chunk it out into smaller, more attainable tasks.

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Defer

To defer means saying, "Not right now" rather than, "Not ever." This could be a new project you want to com mence in a week or two or it could be van idea you want to reflect on before takin...

Delegate

You might find it disconcerting when the results are somewhat different than when you complete the work yourself.

To delegate effectively, create a playbook breaking down a project or task step-by-step and detailing what the outcome looks like.

Do

Simply put, act on your tasks. The 2-minute rule can help with that:  If you can complete a task in two minutes or less, do it now.

It's amazing what you can accomplish in just 120 seconds: write an email, make a quick phone call, pull a report and so on.

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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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Statistics about multi-tasking
  • Trying to focus on more than one thing at a time reduces your productivity by as much as 40%. That’s the cognitive equivalent of pulling an all-nighter.
  • The average desk job ...
When you single-task...
  • you tend to work on the right things. Effective single-tasking requires planning. Starting your day without a plan is just asking for distraction and inefficiency.
  • you accomplish more in less time with less stress: Intentionally focusing on one task at a time has been proven the most efficient way to move through your to-do list.
4 essential components of effective single-tasking:
  1. Cutting out distractions.
  2. Make a single-tasking plan you’ll actually stick to.
  3. Dealing with unavoidable distractions.
  4. Getting back on track when you’ve fallen off the single-tasking band wagon.

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Getting Things Done: the basics
  • Capture. Write down everything you need to do.
  • Clarify. Break down each task into an actionable next step. 
  • Organize. Move each of those actionable ta...
The 2-minute rule
If a task takes less than 2 minutes, then do it now.

If the effort to keep remembering a task is more than just getting it out of the way now, then do it.

Fixing small tasks
  • Fixing things is empowering. Our confidence increases or decreases based on our ability to make progress. 
  • Any progress builds momentum (and your mood): No matter how small the task is, crossing it off your to-do list gives you a boost of momentum and enhances your mood.
  • Small steps turn into habits: When a task is easy to do and quickly completed, it’s much easier to turn it into a habit.

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Personal Productivity Curves

A lot of the internal things that affect our productivity are out of our control. Our energy, focus, and motivation follow their own path or “productivity curve” throughout the day. 

Energy curves

We’re naturally more energetic and motivated at specific times of the day. Researchers call this our Circadian Rhythm. Every person’s rhythm is slightly different, but the majority follow a similar pattern.

  • Waking up. Our energy levels start to naturally rise.
  • Around 10 am. We’ve hit our peak concentration levels that start to decline and dip between 1-3 pm.
  • Afternoon.  Our energy levels rise again until falling off again sometime between 9–11 pm.
90 Minute Cycles

We work best in natural cycles of 90-120 minute sessions before needing a break. When we need a break, our bodies send us signals, such as becoming hungry, sleepy, fidgeting, or losing focus.

If you ignore these signs and think you can just work through them, your body uses your reserve stores of energy to keep up. It means releasing stress hormones to give an extra kick of energy.

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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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