Working Smarter

Written by Do I Editorial

Your work can dictate your level of success or failure. It is not just the kind of work you do, but also the way you do it that signifies whether you’re a hard worker or a smart worker. It is often said that if you work hard, success is bound to follow. However, this is only the case if the hard work isn’t done blindly and a little thought is put into it.

Multi-tasking is the norm today and to maintain a work-life balance, it is imperative that we work cleverly, with our priorities clearly laid out before us. Though it may seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get through a ton of workload, there are a few ways in which you can work smartly and efficiently, and actually end up having time to spare!

Plan and prioritize
As clichéd as it may sound, planning your day and prioritizing important tasks can help tremendously in getting through a large amount of work. Identify essential tasks that have to be completed on a specific day and start with those, first thing in the morning. Same goes for complicated and time consuming duties. Rounding up these in the first half of the day will give you adequate time to relax and get through the rest of the smaller jobs.

Set timelines
When planning your to-do list, jot down the timeline for each task. Be realistic; don’t expand or restrict your timeline to challenge yourself unnecessarily. Be aware of your own capabilities and accordingly allot time durations for each job at hand. Make it a point to stick to this timeline by avoiding distractions like social media and unnecessary socializing at work. Breaking these timelines at first is understandable, but as you get a hang of it, immediately stop working when your time is up. This way you’ll put in your best during the assigned minutes.

Say ‘No’
Multi-tasking does as much good as it does harm. Your efficiency may increase, you may learn to prioritize or become trained to manage your time well, but it’s important to draw the line somewhere. Weigh your options and figure out what’s best for you. Don’t be tempted to take up extra work when you can barely balance what you already have on your plate. As soon as you realise that you’re having trouble managing, stop and demarcate your boundaries to avoid unproductiveness.

Learn to delegate
Delegating tasks to others will give you some breathing time and increase your focus on the important tasks. If you’re in a senior position at work, there will always be something that needs your attention. Hand out small jobs to subordinates or to managers if it’s a relatively important task. Figure out what each member of your team is good at, and accordingly assign them tasks. This will take a huge load off your shoulders.

Accept a helping hand
If colleagues are willing to help you out, let them. If you need help but no one’s offered it to you, open up to your supervisor and ask for assistance. Many times, a colleague will be better equipped to handle a task that you’ve been assigned, so don’t be afraid to have it transferred to them. If it’s within their area of expertise, they won’t disagree and will manage to finish it a lot faster.

If you’re dealing with very high levels of stress, speak to your family members, friends or a counsellor. Someone is bound to help you loosen up a little by offering solutions that you may not have thought of.

Clear your mind
Take frequent breaks to clear your mind, especially if you’re job involves slogging it out at a desk. Splash some water on your face, take a five minute stroll around the office premises or take a tea-break with a group of fun colleagues. If you don’t have time to leave your desk, do a few stretching exercises that will help expand and relax your muscles. Work dedicatedly for an hour and then reward yourself with a fruit or a chat with friends. It is preferable to include non-work related things in these breaks so your mind is diverted and has time to refresh itself.

Allow for contingencies
The most detailed plan can get washed out if you don’t plan for emergent situations. You could be having a great day, going exactly as per your plan, when an urgent task comes up that puts everything in disarray. If you don’t allow for buffer time in your plan, you’ll end up having to deal with a continuous delay over the next few days. Avoid this domino effect and include a little time in your plan for such urgencies.

Be clutter-free
A simple way to get up to speed is to clear up the clutter around your work area. It is quite common to feel burdened when the first thing you see in the morning is tons of paperwork at your desk. The sight may put you off working altogether. Instead, opt for an electronic filing system that will keep you organized and your desk tidy.

Focus on satisfaction
Focus on satisfaction and not perfectionism. Don’t put all your effort into tasks that don’t need them, instead save up for the bigger, more important tasks. It is a well known fact that the need for perfectionism or the lack of it leads to depression, stress and anxiety. Do your best with every task, but your best must be limited to your own level of satisfaction. Don’t allow others to dictate how well you’ve done a job.

Make a not-to-do list
A not-to-do list is as important as a to-do list. Eliminate excess, unnecessary tasks that are of no use to you, or that won’t assist your knowledge and productivity in any way. Concentrate on activities that will affect your future goals and work on those. If there are some tasks that are unavoidable, look for better ways to do them and opt for shortcuts wherever you can, remembering not to sacrifice on quality. If you feel like you can get through it, give it a shot. If not, eliminate it. Either way, you’ll be at ease in the end.

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