Here’s a scenario…
Two people sit down in their home offices to get started on their work for the day…
The first opens a word document on their computer.
Somebody texts them, so they quickly respond. Then look back at their computer and think…“Okay, where was I?”
Another text. They respond again. “Okay wait, let me see where I left off? Oh yeah”. Another text. They look down and respond. And on and on….
The second person sits down to their computer, responds to any lingering texts, and tells the coworker that they are talking that they need to focus and will talk to them later.
They then turn their phone on silent, plug in their headphones, and work without distraction.
After an hour, I guarantee you the second person was more productive than the first.
They got more done. They probably feel more accomplished and less stressed, because they were only focusing on one thing. And they probably entered a state of flow that allowed them to do good work.
The difference isn’t that the second person is smarter. However, they worked smarter and savvier because realized if they left the door open for distraction (kept their phone and text alerts available) they would be distracted.
The first person worked the same amount of time, but their time was not as well spent.
This is what people mean when they say it’s better to work smarter instead of harder.
Harder means measuring success by time.
Smarter means measuring success by what was accomplished.
To work smart, here answer these simple questions:
- What is going to distract me, and how can I preemptively remove those distractions?
- Is there a way for me to better organize my tasks so that I can get more done in less time? (For example: chunking similar items together so that you can get into a flow of doing the same sorts of work for a period of time)
- Based on what I’m looking to accomplish right now, would I benefit from a different environment? Should I be around people or by myself? What variables do I need to consider to do my best work?
- How am I going to measure my own success? What is my “finish line?”
- Is there someone I can get for feedback from, to avoid wasting time learning lessons the hard way when someone who has already learned those lessons can provide guidance on how to move forward most effectively?
Too many people in the world waste time trying to do everything themselves or trying to do too many things at once.
Focus on doing one thing well, faster, and more effectively. You will gain much more satisfaction in your work employing this tactic.