6 Ways to Work Smarter Not Harder

Logistics services comes with a 24/7 work schedule and around the clock. To carry out smooth operations on a continual basis requires a prepared mind with contingency plans for all possible scenarios that might unfold. Thus, how practical could that be when we spend the better part of the day responding to emails, attending to customers, bosses, team members, and colleagues, along with how many meetings per week? Have we ever stopped to ask ourselves these questions? As much OT we put in every week, how is it that we can’t seem to catch up with workloads and meet deadlines, as busily productive we may think we are? The right question to ask stems from somewhere in the good old saying: “Work smarter not harder”. 

Based on results from the Microsoft Office Personal Productivity Challenge, the total sample surveyed over 38,000 people from 200 countries found that on average, we receive 42 emails per day, spend 5.6 hours a week in meetings, and engaged in constructive work only 45 hours per week, or about two days. No one wants to work so hard without a good work / life balance … Hence, today we present to you Eight Ways to Work Smarter Not Harder that not only increases objective productivity, but also allows the best work/life balance possible, as well:

1.Emotional Discipline:

Of course, mental and physical are two paralleled spheres with immense influence on each other, thus, healthy work/live lifestyles work wonders. The middle path, if you may. That said, the mechanism behind productivity is emotional balance, or Emotional Agility (EA). EA is the ability to naturally adjust your attitude and mindset accordingly to situations and other minds around you, pretty much, for the purpose of screening out unnecessary forces that can steer you off course. Yes, anxiety and fear are facts of life, a defense mechanism we can’t live without, and has its own way of helping us get back on the right track, too, but that’s a story of the other side of the same coin. 

EA, however, is an integration of many interloping and interchangeable emotional skills such as emotional intelligence, emotional strength, emotional flexibility, emotional balance, emotional discipline, and emotional resilience. The emphasis of EA is on thoughts and feelings, while the key is awareness. You have to learn the art of observing and recording associated knee-jerk reactions and behavioral patterns – of yourself. Development is pretty much a cause-and-effect analysis, of what causes which emotions. EA can be developed like you would any skill set. Let’s compare it to playing tennis. In order to be good you have to develop a natural ability for playing tennis, which includes mental and physical aspects also. Then, you have to learn the fundamentals of forehands, backhands, volleys and so on and do so while running around the court, too. Then, you have to learn the rules of the game, and practice over-and-over, until you understand your own strength and weaknesses, ways to master or navigate it, and absorb all the fundamentals and integrate them into your agility. To become a serious contender, you have to become a student of the game. When all fundamentals become second nature, you’ve mastered it. Sounds like a lot of work? The good news is there’s nothing to lose, and no right or wrong here. There is no one size-fits-all mold for everyone to fit in to – no matter how hard I try I’m never going be as emotional cool as Rafael Nadal. It’s about finding out who you are, not aspiring to be like someone else. A little bit awareness here and there can work wonders, too. Let’s face it; our Wimbledon days are long gone so let’s keep it fun. (Google “Emotional Agility” to learn more.)

2.Get Organized: The 80/20 Rule:

The 80/20 Rule of Time Management: Stop Wasting Your Time. After we get prioritized, before diving in to work, the next thing to do is getting organized. Finishing a task before deciding what to do next is a form of being unorganized and mismanagement. Each day should be planned ahead and organized around all tasks that need to be carried out throughout the day. The time saved from tackling different tasks at random in an unorganized manner can be put towards much deserved priorities in an orderly manner. Or, what successful project managers call the 80/20 principle that suggests work tasks should be prioritized objectively according to one’s pre-established Key Performance Indicator (KPI). For example, for a Sale’s representative, where sales volume is obviously a high KPI priority, the 80/20 adage goes “there’s a 20% of the customers that equals 80% of sales”, hence, 80% of working hours should be put to increasing sales volume, i.e., finding and keeping customers, and 20% to manage all of the rest less important tasks.

Additionally, Finish-able tasks are tasks that can be completed quite easily the present day. Tackling workloads with further out timelines or indeterminate compellability instead of finishing out the ones that can clearly be tackled and finished right away, is how daily work gets misprioritized and therefore ineffective. If you’re putting in so many hours with not much to show for, this could be why. The advice? Prioritize daily work, and finish the certain ones first. This is particularly true for busy managers and executives with so little time to juggle so many things at once, hence, the higher up the ladder the more valuable an asset time becomes. Effective prioritizing allows getting the maximum workload done according to each task’s importance, timeline, and your responsibility, or in other words, it optimizes efficiency.

3.Focus – Eliminate Distractions:

Today, to give credit where credit is due, communication technology has allowed swift, convenient, and effective communication 24/7 over a split second. However, living in the comfort of what modern technology provides, we forget to disconnect when it matters, from all the disruptions that come through the social media that we feel obliged to contact and interact. Without realizing, it can become a stimulus (or depressant, for that matter), and before we know it, a habit hard to break. The solution here is quite simple – awareness. Be aware of the effect it can have on us and prioritize accordingly. Usually, that means disconnecting when we need to focus, but if your responsibility renders that impossible, perhaps, switching your smartphone to Silent or Airplane mode along with proper automated text responding messages could work wonders. Working from home is a fantastic solution, too, and very popular, particularly, with duties where the physical presence is not required to get the good deeds done. A lot of productive hours can be redirected back to priorities instead of traffic. Finish 

4.Attend to emails and inquiries later in the day – save the mornings for priorities.

For most people with healthy lifestyles, the most productive hours of the day (when the brain is most fresh) are the early morning hours before 10 am. Hence, those hours should be saved for priorities that require more focus and thinking capacity. Leave responding to emails and inquiries for the end of the day, or at least not until daily priorities have been set, unless it’s the boss’s.

5.Before rushing a task to meet a deadline, find out if it’s really important to do, first. 

Doing something well doesn’t make it important. A good measure stick is your KPI. Granted the task is important, however, the focus should be on getting organized, not getting it done as fast as possible. Most of the things that can be done fast aren’t important things to begin with.

Moreover, One misconception about Quality vs. Deadline is that quality takes priority over deadlines, i.e., the deadline can be extended in light of maximizing quality. There is a clear distinction between extended deadlines where sub-timelines and milestone tasks were met and carried out as should and ones where sub-timelines were not met. The former, the project manager is effective, where the latter is un-organized project management. Secondly, as the old word goes; the quality of work is important, but not as important as getting work done on time. Of course, the line of work and sensitive nature of the work, as well as what constitutes “completing” a task all weigh in a heavy factor here, however, more or less, the advice holds true – a deadline should never be missed unless absolutely positively necessary, and surely not because the timelines were not well organized. 

6.Set Daily Objectives in Advance:

Thinking through and setting daily work objectives 24 hours in advance prior to jumping in to it can help us focus on the actual task beforehand and reduce possible anxiety associated to the work load that needs to be carried out as it prepares us mentally over a period of time instead of scrambling the last minute.

In summary, it can be said that productivity is an acquired trait, that is, it, too, is a skill we have to learn, practice, and master until it becomes second nature. It can be done, if only we make way for a healthy life style, navigate negative feelings, and therefore, self-destructive habits that holds us back. With that, it is only natural for a healthy mind and body to focus, develop emotional agility, stay organized, and thus, productivity should be right around the corner. Happiness, though, comes easy for productive minds. The biggest stake at risk is not realizing what is. When you do, though, there’s Eight Ways to Work Smarter Not Harder.

Compiled by BLOG.SCGLogistics

References:  Time.com

Share this post