Have you ever gotten to the end of a long day at work, only to wonder what it is you got done? Throughout the course of any given day, there are tasks and assignments that you’re expected to complete.
Sometimes, however, we find ourselves weighed down by busy work, tied up responding to emails or going back and forth in meetings or other tasks that are not necessarily “productive.”
While expecting every day to be a highly productive day is unrealistic, it’s important to feel that we are contributing to the overall success of our workplace, as well as being fulfilled in our roles and fostering our own personal goals.
This article will discuss a few of the ways employees can better manage their time while at work. I will touch on ways that they can streamline their efforts, working smarter, and thereby increasing productivity while simultaneously removing as much busy work as possible.
What Does ‘Working Smarter’ Mean?
Working smarter, not harder can take on several different meanings for different individuals. Mainly, though, it means being able to prioritize tasks in a way that is efficient and allows for the maximum amount of productivity.
It may also mean taking certain tasks off your to-do list if they aren’t serving you or anybody at the company.
It’s a skill that takes time to develop but can be imperative to your success at a company, not to mention your overall well-being.
Ideas for Working Smarter
How do you go about working smarter? Due to the way we were brought up and to the habits that we’ve developed, it can be difficult to know how to accomplish this.
These are a few ways that you might make a change in your daily work routine:
1. Understand Your Working Habits
The first thing to do when you want to be a more productive employee is to recognize what your daily working habits are. The best way to achieve this is by taking an objective look at what you do in a day (you may even find it helpful to get a trusted colleague or coach’s view on the situation).
Are you someone that’s sidetracked easily? Do you need frequent breaks to stay focused? How long does it take you to complete a typical task?
Ask yourself a few questions, thereby getting to know yourself a bit better. You may uncover some of the habits that are ultimately holding you back.
2. Create a Routine for the Beginning and End of Your Day
Just as it’s important to warm up before a workout and cool down afterward, putting the same idea into practice at work can help you better focus your energy.
Try to establish a morning routine that you can do every day. Perhaps you start by checking your calendar, then your email, and then updating your schedule for any last-minute changes. This will help tell your brain that it’s time to start working without putting the pressure on to be productive right from the start.
At the end of the day, you can create a similar routine. This time, however, the intention is to indicate to yourself that it’s time to stop working. You might reflect on your accomplishments of the day and prioritize your tomorrow.
3. Talk to Your Co-Workers
One common missed opportunity in today’s workplace is the absence of clear communication when trying to work smarter. Often, for jobs to be done correctly on the first try, it is necessary for team members to speak to one another about their progress and how they can help one another.
This lack of communication can come from a toxic workplace environment in which individuals feel uncomfortable reaching out to one another, think they’re too busy to do so, or are waiting for another employee to take the lead.
Not only can this hurt your organization’s bottom line in the long run, but it also means that the parties involved end up doing more work than they actually need to.
4. Reframe Success
Sometimes we pressure ourselves to have a certain level of output each day: this is not realistic or healthy.
According to the American Institute of Stress, around 80% of Americans feel stressed while at work. The same study found that 65% of Americans say this stress has caused difficulties in their lives.
While a bit of healthy stress can help us perform better, stay engaged, and stave off boredom, too much stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and even physical illness.
Consider taking the time to think about what success means for you. Being productive does not have to mean that you’re constantly producing something.
If stress is preventing you from being healthy and successful in the workplace, consider speaking to a manager about your situation and how you can reframe your goals. You might also consider speaking to a professional coach about how you’re feeling to gain some unbiased perspective on the situation.
If you feel like you aren’t accomplishing tasks throughout the day, perhaps it’s time for a switch in your thinking or your routine. As you take the time to get to know how you best work and try these tips, you may find that you’re more consistently hitting your targets over time.
If you or your colleagues could benefit from further discussions about working smarter, not harder, we should have a conversation. I will help you reframe your thinking within your workplace culture to help foster a more harmonious and productive work environment. Get in touch with me to schedule a meeting.