Who do you think is more productive—the person who works tirelessly every second of the day, putting in overtime and sacrificing lunches and personal time to plow through their to-do lists OR the person who breaks up the day strategically, follows a prioritized list and takes frequent breaks to refocus? While we may say that the first person wins this round, research shows that nose-to-the-grindstone workaholics actually get less done during the day. Why, you ask? It’s simple—their brains are fried. The average mind can only focus for so long and when you’re firing on all cylinders, those cylinders are sure to wear out, leaving you feeling burned out, frustrated and angry (and who can get anything done when they feel like that?) It’s about working smarter, not harder. Here are several ways to start working smarter today.
1. Prioritize your day. Many of us write a daily to-do list, but we don’t take it a step further and prioritize that list. As a result, we become bogged down with the time-consuming and less important tasks on the list, instead of doing the activities that drive our businesses. When you write your to-do list, put your most important tasks at the top. That way they can get your undivided attention and focus.
2. Time blocking is your friend. Studies show that our minds work best in 90-minute time blocks. Instead of working non-stop through the day, block out your schedule. When combined with prioritizing your day, time blocking can help you complete more of what’s important and help you take your business to the next level.
3. Take breaks! It may seem counterintuitive, but taking a few breaks throughout your day can help your brain refocus and recharge to handle the next challenge at hand. This means take a lunch (preferably away from your desk) and schedule a few 15 minute breaks throughout your day. Remember, a break (or two) a day keeps burnout at bay!
4. Just say ‘no.’ We’ve become trained to say ‘yes’ to everything that comes our way. After all, we don’t want to miss out on an opportunity, right? By saying ‘yes’ to everything we actually minimize the value of our time. By saying ‘yes’ to every client that comes our way, we lose control over the type of clients we’d like to serve. As a result, we end up grumbling and gritting our teeth as we try to serve D clients. Instead, say no. Practice saying ‘no’ in the mirror or when you’re in the car on the way to the office. Show that your time is valuable by saying ‘no!’
5. Reconnect with your ‘why.’ It’s easy to feel frustrated when you feel overworked or your mind just isn’t into your activities for the day. That’s when your ‘why’ comes to the rescue. Your ‘why’ is your reason for doing what you do, for getting up in the morning, for working hard to complete your activities each and every day. When you have a ‘why’ you can soldier on through all of the challenges that come your way.
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