People have been debating whether we should work hard or work smart, and I say, we should Work Hard AND Smart.
Both styles have propelled successful people to where they are now. So, why should we choose one when we can do both? Through the course of my professional career, I and most of the people I have worked with have experienced that working hard and smart is the way to go.
Working smart means making smart choices when you are doing your work while working hard means you should exert the right kind of effort to finish the tasks and goals you have set for yourself.
In this 4-part series, I will give you general tips on how you can work hard and smart to achieve your goals. This part is all about managing your time and workload.
- A Themed Schedule for Everything
It is not enough to have a schedule, it also needs to be coordinated into a theme. Just like with color themes, if a color does not go well with the one next to it, it can be an eyesore and can ruin the pattern. The same goes for scheduling your tasks and workload. You need to have a sinuous transition between one task to the other. Grouping similar tasks lessens the fatigue on your brain since you do not have to jump between dissimilar thought processes and ideas abruptly. The flowing movement from your tasks gives you a smoother transition and prevents your momentum from slowing too much.
Time theming can also be done on a weekly and monthly basis. If you have fixed points in your calendar like weekly or monthly reports and meetings, you can anchor tasks on those points and work backwards. Remember not to overbook yourself when making a themed schedule so you can maintain your flexibility should an important task arise without prior notice.
2. Knowledge is Power (What, Who, When, Where, Why, How, and How Long)
Knowing all the details about your workload can give you power. It just means that you can prioritize and organize your work better if you know the essentials of your tasks. Nothing spells inefficiency more than going back and forth in figuring out your task while you are in the middle of doing it. Before starting any task, know the following items first:
- What the task is;
- Who are the key stakeholders;
- When is it due;
- Where is the project/task location;
- Why is the task needed;
- How should it be done and what are the processes involved;
- And, How long it will take you to finish the task.
This simple list of information can make or break your performance in delivering the task.
3. Make Lists (Master, Top Priority, For Later, Needs Clarification, and Finished)
Segregating your tasks into different lists can help you track what you need to do at any given time. This can also help you maximize your 8-hour working schedule without unnecessarily spending more time in the office.
- Having a MASTERLIST can give you a complete picture of what you need to accomplish. Have a bulleted format for your list so you can see if there are groups of smaller tasks that you need to perform before you can tick off a bigger task. It is also a good practice to break down big tasks into smaller ones so you can see if there are similar items on your list that you can do together.
- As the name suggests, your TOP PRIORITY list should include tasks that are essential and is due soon.
- The FOR LATER list, will house all the tasks that can be delayed. Just make sure to check this list often so you can avoid missing out due dates.
- Your NEEDS CLARIFICATION list will include all those tasks that needs additional information or would need assistance from other people. This can also include TOP PRIORITY items that can’t be finished without invaluable help from other stakeholders.
- Of course, let us not forget the FINISHED list. This can give you the much-needed confidence boost especially if you see that you have accomplished a lot. It can also give you the details that you need right at your fingertips whenever people call on you regarding finished tasks.
- A Note to Yourself
If a task cannot be completed within the time allotted and needs to be rescheduled, make a note for yourself giving you a quick overview of what you have done so far. This prevents wasting your time backtracking what happened when you last worked on the task. It will be more helpful if you share the task with another person because they can start from where you left off without having to consult with you too much about what has been done.
Do you have other tips in mind? Comment your ideas below and share it to us. If you like blogs like this, Share and hit Like so I can make more for you.
Thank you and talk to you soon!
– Tiya Meri