7 Principles to help you work smarter; not harder
If you are like me, you were raised with the belief that the best way to get what you want in life, is to work hard. If you walk around this world with your eyes open, you will see that the majority of people who work hard, appear to be stuck in a rut and making little progress. I am not against the idea of working hard but unless there is a clear purpose for the work which you are doing, there is little point in working. In other words, before you work hard, you have to work smart. You need to know what you are trying to achieve and what you need to do to achieve it. Once you have started to work smarter, you can then apply all of your efforts to your work.
Principles to help you work smarter
The following are some often overlooked principles which will help you to work smarter. There are other principles but these are the ones which do not get taught as freely. When you implement them, they will make a significant improvement to your outcomes.
1. Ask why, before how.
When people set themselves objectives, they often talk themselves out of these new objectives by immediately trying to figure out how they are going to achieve them. When an objective is new, the method for its achievement is not important. Far more important is your reason for wanting to achieve it. When you have a clear understanding of your reasoning, and how achieving this objective would improve your life, you will be more motivated to find a way to make it happen.
As the old saying goes ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’. These are wise old words. Your first job is to find the will. Once you have done that, finding the way will be a lot easier. Knowing what you want to achieve, and why you want to achieve it, helps you to work smarter.
2. Capture every commitment
Time management and personal effectiveness courses are usually delivered from a top-down perspective. They teach people about vision, priorities and decision making. Learning these skills is invaluable. However, they will never be fully effective unless a bottom-up approach is also taught. It is not enough to have the theory; you have to be able to put it into practice. If you want to put it into practice, you have to have an effective system to capture every single commitment that you make. You need to capture all of your commitments for the following reasons:
If you want to work smarter, you need to know every commitment that you have made so that you can manage your time and energy accordingly.
Once you actually become aware of all of the commitments you are making, it becomes easier to say ‘No’ to those tasks which does not fit with your objectives.
3. Energy management is critical
Your energy levels are cyclical and limited. There will be times during the day when you have high energy levels and you can get a lot of work done, very quickly. There will be other times when your energy levels drop and every task feels like you are dragging concrete across the desert. Monitor your energy, then you can work smarter by arranging your most difficult tasks for periods of high energy and the easier, more routine, tasks can be performed during periods of low energy.
Your energy levels can be increased with some work but there will still be limits. It is essential that you do not take on more work than you have the energy to complete. Then you can assign your tasks to times where you have the appropriate energy level to complete them.
4. A new definition of lazy
Laziness is generally viewed as a bad thing. This does not have to be the case. Being lazy does not have to mean that you are trying to do nothing. I would call that attitude idleness. I like to view laziness as trying to find the easiest way to do something properly. That is a good thing. If you think of all the inventions which have improved our lives, they all started with somebody wanting to find an easier way to do something. They used their laziness to work smarter and to help us to work smarter. As long as it is done in the right spirit, being lazy can be fun and effective.
5. If you wait for perfection, you will become perfect at waiting
There is no such thing as the perfect moment. You will never have all of the knowledge or skills that you will ever require to do something perfectly. If something is really important to you, and you would benefit greatly from getting it done; you need to get going and accept that you will have to learn along the way. If you take action on your objectives now and learn from your mistakes; in 6 months you will be a whole lot closer to getting it done. If you wait for the perfect moment, you will just be perfect at waiting.
6. It can be better to ask forgiveness, than seek permission
If you really want to do something, does it really matter if others approve? It may be disappointing that they do not approve, but seeking the approval of others for everything that you do, is a major waste of time. If you are passionate about it and they don’t approve, go do it. As long as you are not seeking to hurt anybody else, there is no reason to deny yourself the opportunity to improve your life. Good friends and family will come to understand that you have to do what is right for you. If they don’t; then the problem might lie with their expectations rather than with your behaviour.
7. It’s not all about money
If you were offered all of the money in the world, to work 24 hours per day for the next 20 years, would you take it? Apart from the fact that you couldn’t physically do it, you should be able to see that there is little point in having all of that money when you don’t have the time to do anything with it. Life is not about money, it is about the experiences we create for ourselves, and the fun we have along the way. It is important to remember that money is only a means to get things done and it is not the only means. Keeping money in perspective allows you to make better decisions and work smarter.
You can work hard every day of your life and still not get close to achieving your objectives. If your work is not aligned with your objectives, all that hard work will be for nothing. Rather than work harder, you can work smarter. When you work smarter, you remember what you are trying to achieve and you focus on tasks which help you to achieve this. There are many principles which will help you to work smarter; this post just focused on some of the most important principles which are consistently overlooked. Take a look over these 7 principles and determine how you can apply them to your life. When you apply them to your life, you will work smarter and achieve better outcomes, in a short space of time.