Putting away a twin stroller in 45 degree weather is hard. I did that for three years with ninja precision because it was hot and I needed to get my babies in the air-conditioned car - fast. My husband works in the middle east and my twins were born in July, so I got to ‘expert level’ stroller folder pretty quickly.
When most people hear the phrase ‘work smarter’ they immediately pull out their planners and allot more time for whatever it is they feel that their being asked. What most people fail to realize however is that working smarter does not always mean working more, or even harder - just more strategically.
To work smarter you need to know and fully understand your ‘WHY’. It is hard to work strategically and fully focused on something when you aren’t quite sure how it’s helpful or who it’s benefiting. When you can get a solid motivation behind the task that you’re trying to complete (i.e. burning hot weather and newborn twins) you are going to almost automatically come up with the best solution without really thinking too much about it.
Manage the expectations that you’ve set for yourself and those others have of what you can do for them. You can’t do all the things and as crazy as it may sound you are not going to do everything perfectly. We are not all made the same and your strength could be someone else’s weakness so give yourself grace with certain tasks, don’t be afraid to ask for help and if something is too much - just say so!
One of the most important steps is to FOCUS. I cannot stress this one enough - you cannot multitask and do everything to the best of your ability. This means putting phones on airplane mode, closing unnecessary tabs, and specifically dedicating time to finish upcoming tasks. When you can hone in on one specific task it almost becomes second nature to you the more times that you complete it.
"The counter-intuitive secret to getting things done is to make them more automatic, so they require less energy," wrote Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, in the Harvard Business Review. This quote says it all - we only have a limited amount of mental energy in a day and having to think through every step trying to make it the most ‘efficient’ sometimes takes away efficiency altogether. Automating our decisions (e.g.: meal planning so that you can have a ready-made shopping list and don’t have to wonder about what to eat for dinner, or automating your inbox so you tell that Spam where to go so you don’t have to sift through your inbox) can keep our one reservoir of will and discipline, and it comes pouring out by any act of conscious self-regulation, or decisions we have to make throughout the day higher. In other words, if you spend energy trying to resist that piece of cake your coworker brought to the break room (thanks, Deb!), you'll have less energy left over to solve a more challenging problem. Will and discipline decline as the day wears on.
Speaking of Spam - checking emails multiple times a day is making your productivity superpowers suffer...big time, friend. You know the drill, you’re at the supermarket check-out line and you peek in your phone and BAM, email. You make a decision about opening said email, then you think about responding said email, start drafting the email then you’re next in line at the checkout line and you’re annoyed someone just asked you to move along because your eyes were on your phone and not on the checkout counter so you’re already annoyed because doesn’t the lady behind you know that you have an important email to write? You know where I’m going with this, right? As of this week, I no longer have email alerts on my phone. At all. Nada. This gives me two things: a) peace of mind to wander freely at the supermarket without the buzzing on my phone, b) it makes me SHOW UP at my desk and answer the emails twice a day, so I can focus on my actual work and my customers for the rest of my day.
And yes, we encourage setting a timer to complete tasks as a means to work smarter. Here’s why: According to Parkinson's Law, states that, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”, meaning: if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do. So set a timer, you’ll be surprised of what you can actually accomplish if you’re given a deadline. Bonus points if you set a timer AND identify your reward for completing your task on time (I go for aforementioned cake located in the break room -- with compliments from Deb!)
With all these things already mentioned, be sure to take some time to yourself and RECHARGE. We’re human can’t be assumed to be on the grind 24/7 or even close to that amount. If you don’t take time to rest I can guarantee you will not be working smarter, better or more efficiently at all. Rest isn’t laziness it’s necessity so don’t be scared of it.
I think sometimes society has such a way of complicating something that is really quite simple - work & schedules being one of them. Do what makes you happy, don’t overwork yourself and find something that motivates you. In the grand scheme of things that’s really all that matters and if you get those in place everything else tends to follow. If you have trouble tackling planning and it still feels messy every time you try to get things in order - No fear! We are having a planning workshop in November to come be a part of it!