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How To Work Smarter Not Harder

If your everyday workload regularly leaves you feeling overworked, overwhelmed and frazzled then it’s time to work smarter not harder.

We all have the same amount of time available to us but have you noticed that some people are able to get much more done while remaining calm and unflappable… but how do they do it?

It’s not by working longer and longer hours!

Yes I know that for many women, you have gotten to where you are from working hard. Putting your head down, working hard and doing great work has been the foundation of your success … but there comes a time when just working a harder is no longer enough.

I see way too many women who are exhausted and depleted from trying to maintain their high standards while keeping on top of the workload.

If this is you, it’s time to find some new ways of getting it all done.

Here are 7 habits to help you to work smarter not harder.

1.  Be intentional and focused. I am a huge advocate for the power of intentions. I know that this one small habit is the difference between achieving what is most important or getting caught up in “busy work.”

Do you know what is most important to you, your career direction and progression and what will get you noticed by those that matter?

To boost your productivity and effectiveness, make time each month and each week to review and set your focus. Get crystal clear on the biggest priorities and create space in your week to get these things done.

2.  Make quicker decisions. If you procrastinate, over analyse or get stuck seeking the opinions of every man and his dog before you make a decision … it’s time to stop!

I am not suggesting that you make snap decisions that are irrational and without consideration, but painfully slow decision making is holding your back and impacting your reputation as a leader.

3.  Say no to perfectionism. This one goes hand in hand with making quicker decisions. I get it. Like so many women you want to do your best work. You were rewarded at school and at uni for perfecting your assignments but in the working world your perfectionism is holding you back.

I see many smart women falling behind when they get into leadership roles because their perfectionist tendencies slows down delivery or they don’t even give their ideas the light of day, waiting for the ideas to be perfect.

The solution that works for many of my perfectionist clients is to set a new benchmark. Where in the past they would not see a project, report or email as complete until it was 100% perfect… the new benchmark for the majority of their work is now 80% – saving time and effort without significantly impacting the value of their work.

4. Put your needs first… and say NO. Yes ladies. I know how much you struggle with this one but this is important. Too often I see fabulous women making time for everything and everyone else, at the detriment of their own work performance and energy levels.

Next time you have a board report, strategy paper or major project that needs your concentrated time and attention block out some time in your diary to get it done… interruption free! Make an appointment with yourself .. and stick to it.

5.  Discover your productivity zone. When and where are you most productive? Is it early in the morning before the team come in or is it after dinner once the kids have gone to bed or some other time through the day?

And know your productivity is also likely to be impacted by your environment. Do you like the hum of activity around you or do you work best in a quite, uncluttered airy space?

We all have our own productivity zone. When and where is yours? I know that I do my best work before 11.00 am sitting in my favourite local café.

6.  Turn off distractions. This one really is too obvious but had to be in the list. Have you noticed that we respond like Pavlov’s dogs, reacting to the buzzing and binging of our social media, emails or phones?

And as much as we think we can multitask – we may do this better than the blokes – but still we loose our focus and concentration every time these micro interruptions come our way.

So ladies… it’s time to disconnect from your devices, even if it is just for a few hours each day.

7.  Prioritise your self care. If you want to accomplish more, make it a priority to nourish your soul, your body, and your mind. I am not exactly a pro at this one; I mess up all the time.

I do however know that if I have a super busy week then the best preparation to getting it all done is a good night sleep, time spent moving my body, good nutrition and focusing on filling my soul and clearing my mind.

 The choice is now yours!

If you are struggling to get it all done and your “to do list” is a source of stress and tension for you, choose one (or more) of these habits to slot into the way you work.

Let’s make life a little easier (and a lot more fun) by working smarter not harder!

Here are 3 Steps To Overcoming Your Habit of Perfection

1.  Recognise what your perfectionism is costing you.  Pain is a great motivator!  Identify what your perfectionist ways are costing you in terms of your career progress, your health, fun time with your family.

2.  Prioritise your most important tasks.  You most likely bring your perfection strategies to every area of you work.  In some areas of your work, your diligence and pursuit for excellence is a strength (eg: completing budgets, drafting board reports etc) while in other areas (emails to colleagues, weekly meeting agendas etc) your need for 100% is slowing you down, holding you back and quite possibly stressing you out.

Pick the top 5 tasks where your focus on detail is critical and allow yourself to pursue excellence in these priority areas.  For the rest, turn back the dial to 80 – 90%.  You may be surprised by how few people notice any difference in your effort.

3.  Set realistic Goals. “Good enough” is a term that strikes fear in most perfectionists but is a goal worth pursuing….. why? Because you are more likely to get the job done and on time! A reputation of poor productivity and failing to get work finished on time is a massive stumbling block for career progression.

Striving for high standards, of course can be beneficial.  But at some point it becomes debilitating and self-defeating.  You may feel a sense of control when you are doing things absolutely perfectly… while in fact your perfectionist ways are controlling you.  Letting go of these long held habits may take time but you will find it is well worth the effort.

Start today, by acknowledging what your perfectionist ways are costing you.

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