“The phrase touches on an individual's emotional and intellectual desire to ‘have it all,’ but doesn’t really tell anyone how to go about working smart, not hard,” wrote millennial career coach, Rachel Ritlop at Forbes.
One key factor that all workers need in order to work smarter is self-awareness, she said.
“Having self-awareness allows an individual to prioritise his or her own needs, ask for help, cut losses, and build upon strengths in an intentional manner,” she said, adding that this means figuring out your own strength and setting up a network to help you build on that strength to achieve your goals.
Ritlop also sought the advice of productivity experts and listed down six ways they said workers (leaders and staff alike) can use to be more productive:
Don’t just create a to-do list, said time management coach, Jami Novak.
Instead she suggested assigning time limits to your tasks in order to be better aware of what needs to be prioritized.
“The more you time yourself, and gain more self-awareness into how long a particular type of task takes you, the more time you will be able to actually identify and re-purpose in your schedule,” she told Ritlop.
But in this case, GPS stands for ‘goal, purpose, scope’.
Mitzi Weinman, founder of TimeFinder, said that GPS “helps you and the person to whom you are delegating stay on track”.
First, set your goals by envisioning what you want the project to look like when it is completed then explain the purpose to get better buy-in and finally, “provide the person you are delegating the task to the full scope of the project” that could include anything from deadlines to formats to target audience.
Provide themes for various days, weeks, or months in your life to achieve a better work-life balance, said productivity coach, Mike Vardy.
“For instance, every Friday could be themed ‘friends day’ and every Saturday could be themed ‘family day’ … [to give yourself] less to think about when you’re trying to decide what to do because that given time has already been given some sort of thematic value,” he said.
‘Create a new email strategy’
Vardy said that email is commonly known as a productivity killer as workers tend to check their email as soon as a notification comes in and while this may be good for beefing up professional relationships, it disrupts your routine and you end up multitasking.
He suggested what he called a ‘3Mail Workflow’ instead.
“Start by creating a folder for every day of the week. During the designated time frames in your day for checking emails, either delete new e-mails or place them in the day of the week folder in which you plan to respond,” he said.
“The goal is to never have any emails in your inbox, but have them all delegated to a specific day of the week.”
‘Don’t start from scratch’
Novak also said that there’s no reason to ‘re-invent the wheel’ when you can use already existing templates that could be formatted and updated to suit your needs.
This also allows you to “leverage other people and resources to reach your goal as efficiently effectively as possible,” she said.
‘Leave yourself a note’
If you truly can’t avoid a disruption, take a moment to leave yourself a note on how far you’ve come exactly on your current task before moving onto a newer one that needs your immediate attention, said Novak, adding that this lessens the time you need to backtrack when you get back to your unfinished business.
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“Work smarter, not harder,” is a phrase that can conjure up different images for different workers.