All business growth happens in stages. Eventually entrepreneurs realise that they need to work smarter, not harder to achieve the results they want.
People hit a point where they can’t grow any further without radically changing how they work in their business.
I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar in your own business.
As you grow, and achieve success in your business, you take on more and more complexity, stuff and complications.
- More clients to work with
- Additional admin to take on
- More stuff to deal with
- Less time to think and plan
- More obstacles to overcome
Work smarter, not harder
It becomes easy for your business to control you rather than the other way round.
Your time is swallowed up and you begin to work longer and longer hours to try and get ahead of yourself.
You hit a ceiling.
Despite working harder and longer, your results aren’t improving.
You actually have less time, rather than the time freedom you want.
When you feel like working harder isn’t working any more there is a simpler way.
Your business becomes about working smarter, not harder.
Rather than being efficient, it’s about being effective.
Instead of time and effort put it, the focus is on results and leveraging your time to achieve the results.
By developing this simplified way of thinking, communicating, and achieving, you’ll break through complexity and start working smarter, not harder.
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Use goal setting to work smarter, not harder
Think about your ideal future in terms of the specific, measurable goals you want to achieve.
Goal setting helps filter out a lot of busyness activity that keeps you in a work harder mindset.
When we have bigger goals, it forces us to develop better mindsets, habits and time management strategies.
Bigger goals provide us with the focus and opportunity to think about how we spend our time differently.
Rather than working harder, the future goals we set force us to eliminate certain activities and focus on collaboration, developing better habits, building teams and creating bigger relationships.
We all reach a plateau with our time that we have to progress beyond.
Working longer and longer won’t get us there.
Working smarter, not harder is the key to creating the time freedom that will allow you to achieve the next stage of growth you want.
Here are 7 ways working smarter, not harder will make you more effective and achieve your goals quicker.
1. Improve your time management skills
If you find yourself with more work than you can actually achieve in a day there are 2 options:
- Utilise time management skills to manage your time better
- Reduce the amount of activities you’re doing in a day
Being able to work smarter, not harder is about setting up your day so you’re clear on your most important activities, identifying your number one priority and then using time blocking to focus.
Remember Parkinson’s Law where work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
If you give yourself a full day to complete a project, you will spend the full day on that project.
“There are no impossible goals, only impossible deadlines.” – Dan Sullivan
Extend your deadlines
We often give ourselves impossible deadlines to complete projects and tasks forcing us to continually work harder.
Instead, be realistic about the specific deadline required for each task and try to be smarter about giving yourself just that little bit of extra time.
Use smart goals to be more realistic and timely.
3. Learn to say no more often
When you are clear about your unique strengths and the results you’re best at delivering, you get better at learning to say no more often.
Rather than having a massive to do list of stuff, that gives you pleasure ticking off, create a list of activities that only you should do and find other people to work with or on the other activities.
Many entrepreneurs waste a huge amount of time on activities that are not essential and that they’re simply not very good at.
Understand your capabilities, know where you’re most productive and focus on being effective rather than efficient.
4. Focus on progress not perfection
People spend huge amounts of wasted time on making everything perfect.
They are simply causing themselves to work harder by constantly changing and updating and making perfect things that could be done in half the time.
Rather than being happy with a completed project, they spend endless hours editing so it’s just right.
Do the work to do the best of your ability and move on, or do the first part of a project that you’re great at and find other people to work with you on the rest.
5. Set up your day the night before
Creating an effective evening routine that gets you clear on your three most important activities for the following day can free up huge amounts of time.
Rather than starting the day, and wasting hours, without a clear list of priorities, focus areas and action steps you know exactly what to do.
Having clear direction and focus every morning helps you work smarter, not harder.
Following up with setting up each day the night before compounds that focus and increases effectiveness.
6. Protect your greatest resource, you
If you are fatigued, have no energy or motivation you simply won’t be productive or effective.
Working less, getting better sleep, eating healthily and creating more time for rejuvenation increases productivity.
When you’re working, take regular breaks, learn to time block to reduce multi-tasking and take time to walk or exercise if you’re having a particularly stressful day.
These are some of the simplest ways to work smarter, not harder and increase a sense of balance.
7. Focus on results not time and effort
When it comes to productivity many people are focused on the time and effort taken to complete a project rather than the result itself.
Focusing on achieving a specific result helps us leverage our time because we are fully focused on the result.
If we can achieve a result quicker than expected then great.
This result mindset cuts through inefficiency and improves confidence and motivation.
When we are working on a bigger project that may take a week to deliver, some people get to the end of a day and think about how much more there is still to do.
An alternative way of thinking is to celebrate the results that were actually achieved that day.
An insight can be created in a short period of time as can a breakthrough in thinking.
These are results and have nothing to do with time and effort.
Always having a results first mindset will help you work smarter, not harder and ensure you are not just filling the day with non-essential tasks.
Now I’d like to hear from you:
Which strategy from today’s post are you going to try first?
Or maybe I didn’t mention one of your favourite tips to work smarter, not harder.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment.
A version of this article originally appeared at Lucemi Consulting