“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” -Albert Einstein
I had a boss who used to say 'Work smarter, not harder', constantly. My answer was, but I am working hard. It took a long time to truly understand what this meant and how to achieve it.
Working smarter, doesn't mean not working hard. You're already doing that. But are you using your time effectively and utilising the people around? You're not expected to know everything. Part of working smarter is asking for help when you need it.
For example: a client wanted to post a survey on linked in to understand her market. She wasn't experienced at linkedin, but was willing to play around with it. She's also not the most technically savvy person I know. I asked her if she knew anyone who could talk her through this? She did. So she asked her friend and it took her 20 minutes to post the surveys she needed. Had she just played around with it, she still would have achieved her goal, but it would have taken up a lot more time. Time she could spend doing something else. Working smarter is about understanding where you can do something differently. It isn't about plugging more hours into your day. You work hard already!
Here are 5 tips for working smarter, not harder.
1. Pick up the phone, rather than emailing back and forth. Email is easy, but doesn't always give us the best response without having to play ping pong. By phoning, you are more likely to make that sale quicker.
2. Work in chunks. If time management is something you struggle with. Work differently. Manage your time in chunks. The new studies say that 5 x 50minutes chunks is the ideal. By limiting your time on a task, it means that you have to focus on it for that time, which pushes you to complete it (don't under estimate the time a task will take, overestimate - you need to allow for the unexpected. You don't want to feel deflated at the end of the day, not having achieved what you wanted.)
Or use the Pomodoro technique - another time management method.
3. Take time out. Instead of staring blankly at the screen trying to tackle a problem, write a blog post etc. Walk away. Give yourself the head space to think clearly. Do another task that doesn't require your concentration, or get some fresh air.
4. Have a to do list - whether this is weekly, monthly or daily. By having a to do list you eliminate distractions. You know. Those exciting ideas that you get when you're working, but aren't about your current business.
You don't want to dismiss or loose those ideas - so write them down and come back to them when your business is ready.
5. Are there any processes that you can automate or use technology to help you with? For example - can use add your finances on the go using a phone app. Or is there a certain process in your business that takes a lot of unnecessary time?
Working smarter is seeing where you can be more effective or doing something different and getting a better outcome.