Shirley's Articles / Personal Effectiveness

Are You Working Smarter Or Harder?

We all hear the old saying that we should ‘work smarter, not harder’, but how many of us actually abide by this? It’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Experts actually say the key to working smart is to be more effective, not necessarily more efficient. Efficiency is doing the job right. Effectiveness, on the other hand, is doing the right job! Think about that! Here are my ten top tips for managing your time more effectively:

  1. Figure out when you are at your peak
    I know I work better from 9am to noon, so that’s when I try to do my most important tasks. Figure out when you are at your prime and plan carefully around this.
  2. Turn off your email notifier
    Do you really need the pop-up or ‘ding’ every few minutes? Try turning off your email notifier when you need to concentrate on an important project, then you really can focus.
  3. Expect the unexpected
    Block out some planning time. Everyone needs some time for thinking, so try to build in some flexibility into your daily routines.
  4. Say NO occasionally
    Sometimes we may have to be assertive and say ‘no’ if something is not urgent or a priority. Saying no courteously may be seen as a strength rather than a weakness.
  5. Set priorities
    Categorise tasks according to priority, for example:
    1 = The task is urgent and important
    2 = It’s important but not urgent
    3 = It’s urgent but not important
    4 = Its not urgent and not important
  6. Stay focused in meetings
    How many meetings have you attended where people go off at tangents? It helps to be clear about the agenda before meetings, and make sure everyone knows what the objectives are. This will help you stay focused and keep the discussion heading in the right direction.
  7. Clear out your clutter
    I know I can’t work effectively if my desk is a mess with lots of paperwork everywhere. So once in a while I have a good clearing and sorting session, and I clear out the clutter on my desk, trays, drawers and files. It’s amazing how much better I always feel once the clutter is gone!
  8. Remember to take a break
    We all tend to make more mistakes when we are tired or stressed, so learn to recognise the symptoms when you are flagging and take a break from your work. Yes Mom, I hear you… this is something I’m not so good at!
  9. Don’t procrastinate
    Tackle what’s right now in the present and don’t let procrastination get in the way. It’s amazing how great it feels when you can tick off those items on your to-do list!
  10. Adopt a positive attitude
    Keep your mindset positive. See solutions instead of problems. See positives instead of negatives. Do your tasks with a happy heart, and smile!
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* Credit line: © Shirley Taylor. Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at shirleytaylor.com.
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