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You’ve heard the expression: “Work smarter, not harder”, what exactly does it mean? When your mailbox is full, there are a lot of papers on your desk and the phone keeps ringing, how are you supposed to get everything done in time?
The truth is that the most common way of doing things is not always the most productive. When you focus on over-planning, you may be doing too many activities that aren’t leading to any results. That means time wasted on things that aren’t worth your attention or that could be handled differently.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are five cures to help you work more efficiently:
The most successful entrepreneurs know that by having a little structure in their schedule they can create a successful routine. If you’re running around putting out small fires instead of planning for the future of your business you’re going to burn it down.
The key to an effective workday is to have a little organization in place. Get up every weekday at the same time and work out a routine, e.g. get up, exercise, eat breakfast, answer emails, make calls, set aside time to plan and work, check your email again, make calls and go to sleep.
When you break the structure and start answering emails and calls all day and all night you lose a lot of time. Having a certain order allows you to prioritize things in your day, train your team and clients when they want access to you and set aside time with family, friends and yourself. Structure makes you a smart entrepreneur.
Maybe for some of the most talented moms there is something called multitasking. But for the rest of us mortals, we should put aside the idea that we can do many things and be effective at the same time.
The brain is not programmed to do two things well at once. You end up wasting more time trying to correct your words and rewrite your emails. Your brain is losing efficiency every time you jump into a new task. Focus on one, finish it completely and start another. This will help you gain more time later.
Part of being an entrepreneur is using your good judgment. Commit to knowing your business model and products. You must trust your judgment in hiring salespeople and other employees. Apply that to the urgent versus the important that comes up every day. Part of the brilliance of working under a structure is that on many occasions you must eliminate the urgent versus the vital issues.
If you check your email or return calls on a set schedule, you train your employees and customers to solve their own problems. Have the judgment and discipline to get out of the easy habit of thinking that everything urgent is important, it is not. Learning to let go of the urgent will take away a lot of stress so you can work well and focus on what is important.
It’s easy to take them for granted now because they’ve become a part of our lives and weren’t around ten years ago. Still, entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Richard Branson built million dollar businesses with a landline phone.
All this connectivity is very convenient, but it can also be very detrimental to your workflow. You must find times in the day when the messaging option is turned off, email notifications are blocked and the phone does not receive calls. All those distractions take your brain out of its creative process.
How can you do this and finish on time? Easy! It’s all about structure. When you plan your day to have moments between tasks and breaks, you’re preparing for success. If you organize yourself to take walks, eat meals and reset your brain to rest your body, you’ll have the energy and the brain ready to last all day.
Don’t feel guilty about getting up from work every two hours for water, a snack or a walk around the block. Keeping your body fed and rejuvenated will help you work better for a long time.
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