There are days when I feel super productive and I’m getting the results I want, then there are days when it feel like my time and hard work are getting me absolutely no where. Can you relate?
I recently took a step back from blogging to re-examine the way I was doing things. I noticed that I had been spending a lot of time doing “busy work”, by this I mean work which makes you feel productive but doesn’t actually move the needle as such. I was spending much longer than needed on tasks which don’t need to take a long time and I was procrastinating a lot.
I took some time off to simply step back and figure out why everything felt a bit stagnant. It seemed like I was being productive but in reality I was working hard but not smart. I needed to make sure I was spending enough time on the important but uncomfortable tasks and not just tasks which are easy but don’t make a huge impact. In today’s post I’m sharing with you the ways I’m learning to work smarter not harder.
Use the 20/80 rule
The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, suggests roughly 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results.
Write down your one main goal right now and ask yourself, what are the 20% of my tasks which create 80% of my results? Then change your behaviour by spending more time on the tasks which bring the most value.
I had a think about this in relation to blogging and I found that the tasks which create the most results are Pinterest, my digital shop and writing blog posts. Tasks which don’t bring much result but which I devote a long time to are Instagram and YouTube (however YouTube is a new addition to my blog, so might need some more time to develop before I can judge). From this I can continue to change my behaviour to work on the tasks which bring the most value.
This may sound counterproductive, but slowing down can help you identify more efficient ways of working. Instead of rushing into the next item on your to-do list, spend just 5 minutes thinking about the task ahead and how you’re going to approach it. Is there another task which you could do first which would help?
Tune out new ideas
Do you ever start a new project and then find yourself getting distracted by new ideas? It doesn’t even need to be a better idea, but one which distracts you enough to stop you in your tracks. I’m so guilty of this! When starting a new project or even when I’m writing a new blog post, I find myself thinking of new ideas and steering away from the task at hand. When this happens, just make a note of your idea and then continue with what you’re currently working on. Ideas are perfect during the brainstorming phase but once you’ve already committed to something, they can slow down your productivity and make you work harder not smarter.
Do you have any tedious or repetitive tasks which you do on a regular basis? Work smarter by automating some of your tasks. This is exactly what I’ve started doing! There are a number of different auto schedule apps and programmes you can download, most of which are free. I use an app called IFTTT (If That Then This), it’s super easy to use and free to download. With IFTTT, you can auto schedule just about anything! Here are some of the schedules I’ve set up:
- Automatically share new blog posts to my Facebook page
- Automatically share new blog posts to Tumblr
- Tweet my Instagram as a photo on Twitter
The examples I’ve used are all related to social media and blogging but this app can automate a lot of other things too! Check it out and see if you can save yourself some time.
Know Your Priorities
Think about what your goals are and priorities are. Work smarter by doing the most important task first and be effective on the right tasks rather than productive with smaller less meaningful tasks.
I’ve found that I work more efficiently when I set a dedicate time to work on something. Otherwise I find myself feeling overwhelmed as my mind is unsure when to switch off and is thinking about the next task on my list. I’m also more likely to become distracted and play on my phone when I don’t set boundaries, but when I have a dedicated time to work, even if it’s just for 30 minutes I stay focused during this time. I recently purchased an app called “forest”, you set a timer and during this time a seed is planted which eventually grows into a tree, if you look at your phone during the set time, then the tree dies! It’s a good way to stay focused and keep you away from your phone.
What are some of the ways you work smarter?