We’re all guilty of falling into the common work trap: In order to be successful, you have to work hard all the time. Forget sleep, hobbies and even your family—if you want to run a successful business, it’s work, work, work from here on out. And, if you followed this path, it probably left you feeling burned out and frustrated. While it’s vital to work hard, it’s also important to realize that your time, energy and resources are valuable. Here’s how to work smarter:
1. Time block your day. If you want to work more efficiently, get acquainted with time blocking. Time blocking is the process of breaking your day into 60 to 90 minutes chunks of time that allow you to focus on one task without any interruptions. The mind can only focus for a finite amount of time before it begins to wander. Time blocking uses this tendency to take advantage of the time that your mind will focus so that you can be more productive.
2. Shorten your to-do list. Chances are, there aren’t fifty things that have to get done today. Instead of maintaining a to-do list that has a million items, narrow it down to the five things you have to get done today. That way you can focus on what matters without becoming overwhelmed by the less important tasks.
3. Break larger tasks down into smaller pieces. Larges tasks can be overwhelming. By breaking them into smaller, more manageable pieces, you can maintain your focus and motivation toward completing a project.
4. Set time limits. For many of us, it’s hard to stop a task once we’re working on it. Breaks are important to your productivity. Time block your day—and stick to it—or set a timer for each activity. Once the timer buzzes, it’s time to move on to another task.
5. Build in wiggle room. Wiggle room is essential for your productivity. It gives you space to complete a task, deal with the unexpected things that arose during the day or even read that personal growth book you’ve been meaning to crack open. Build an hour of it into each day.
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