Have you ever had that feeling that the day is not long enough for you to finish what you are supposed to do? Or wished that you could snap your fingers and get things done instantly? Everybody has. However, we cannot extend the number of hours in a day, nor can we magically snap our fingers and get things done. In this day and age, we can only accomplish so much in a day. And to be able to accomplish more in a day, we need to come up with a plan, a strategy, a technique, and this plan, strategy or technique, has to work for us. What works for Adam may not necessarily work for John. With that being said, each of us has to come up with a way of working smart.
Working smart does not mean we cut corners when completing our tasks. Working smart means getting things done the quickest, most efficient way possible with satisfactory results, and still aiming for excellence. We may have our tasks list, our to-do list or simply a checklist of what needs to be accomplished in a day, but working smart means going through these lists as efficiently as possible without compromising the quality of the work done. This is not just true with work or our jobs. Working smart is also applicable in our day to day lives.
How do we do this? Below are some of the tips that can help you in working smart.
1. Start your day fresh
After a good night’s sleep, do what you need to do before working on any task at all. For some, coffee is necessary, for others it can be a full breakfast, the morning papers, a lavish shower, a brisk walk or jog or even walking your dog. Get these things done first and foremost. Getting them done before working on any task ensures less distractions throughout the day. This allows you to focus on getting things done – completing your tasks or crossing them out from your list. The focus tends to help one get through things more efficiently and effectively. Starting your day fresh is the perfect kick-off to a jam-packed day. When you are working smart, you need to be able to focus to get things done.
2. Prioritise your tasks
Working smart requires prioritisation. This way, you can calculate the amount of time you will spend on completing your tasks or finishing your job. At work, the usual scenario would be, checking emails at the start of your day. We can agree that emails are important, but you do not spend your whole workday just checking or working on your emails. Classification of emails should be in place. This allows you to know which emails, issues or topics can be addressed on your computer, and which ones you need to get up, and be on your feet to work it.
Once you open your mailbox on your computer, you should be able to filter out the emails according to their relevance or urgency. All emails are assumed important. Working smart does not mean paying less attention to the not so urgent, or not so relevant emails. Working smart means knowing which email requires your immediate attention and which ones don’t. This allows you to attend to matters according to their level of urgency. A valuable tip in email management can be –DRAG the EMAIL to a TASK and give it a start and due date with appropriate priority when you know you will not get to it today. This way, you can still see that you have emails in your task list that needs your attention at a future time. You can simply forget about it until the start date which will remind you to open the email again, and get to it. Working smart means, at the end of the day, your inbox should not have any emails.
3. Utilize tools on hand
Let’s say you need to run an errand, you need to meet with somebody for a proposal and you need to pick up the clothes you sent out to dry clean. This has to be done today. How would you squeeze those in your busy workday? Working smart encourages you to make use of the tools that you have on hand. You may say, “What tools?” Your task list in Outlook is an obvious tool quite useful for many. It can be set to alarm when a particular task is due. It can also remind you of upcoming tasks that you need to complete for the day. GPS is another tool, readily available and very helpful. This tool will give you an idea of the location of your errand, your meeting and the dry cleaners, therefore, it would give you the approximate time calculation you need to spend in getting to those places the quickest way possible. Next would be your CALENDAR. Saving events or reminders on your calendar is very helpful. It can be set to remind you or it can be set to alarm when you need to do something or need to be reminded of something. The calendar also gives you an idea of how much time you still have in your day when you can squeeze in an hour for a coffee meet up with a colleague,or time for a dinner with a friend. Others make use of project management tools in tracking the progress of their work or job. There are a lot of tools you can use, depending on what the days tasks require. Working smart means using these tools to help you in completing your tasks more efficiently.
Working smart does not mean being a superhuman completing everything in a day. We have learnt about prioritising our tasks, which helps us to work smart, so we have time for other activities. It allows us to have room for enjoying life. Working smart does not mean just stopping your work at the close of business. Working smart means, being able to work efficiently and effectively in the quickest possible time for us to enjoy life. Working smart helps us have a work-life balance.