Let’s talk working harder vs. working smarter and the way I had a tendency to work hard but not smart. Long hours, lots of running around like a headless chook and a massive failure to delegate. You see by sharing my experience as the headless chook poster girl for working hard, I’m hoping I’ll share with you what I’ve since learnt about working smart. So let’s get a wriggle on.
The year was 2005 and I was property manager extraordinaire. My shoes were bad and my attitude was if you ask those closest to me even worse. Long hours at a 6 day a week job had me close to the edge. Worse than close to the edge, I was dangling over the edge. Emotional, exhausted and in desperate need of relief I had a conversation that would change my life. A conversation about who I was being.
And the sad truth of the matter was that I was being a jerk and at the same time a big sooky-la-lah. When offered alternatives to the way I was working I felt that I was being personally attacked. I would cry and find it difficult to adopt any manner of change because, let’s face it, working hard is hard work and it wears a person OUT. The person in the conversation I was in suggested something had to give. It was time to make a change.
Even I knew something had to change. OR my head was going to explode. So I took their advice, their coaching, and I started to make small changes that would soon add up to a massive shift. I’ve outlined them below because that my friend is the point of this… To work smarter rather than harder and ultimately changed my whole way of being, I did the following;
I stopped taking everything so personally. I would train myself to pretend that people were talking about someone else when they were talking about me. It made having those ‘we need to talk’ style work conversations easier for everyone involved. It wasn’t personal anymore, it was just what was being said.
When the time came to work in teams I allowed myself to be myself. Instead of trying to hide my issues with Math or cover up my goofy personality and be ‘professional and polished’ I gave myself permission to be myself. Perhaps you’re pretending to be someone you aren’t to hide something you see as a shortfall in you. Stop doing that, it takes too much effort.
Plan first, then actually follow the plan. That 15 minutes you take at the start of the day to review what you did yesterday, make a plan for what to tackle today and your impending deadlines will mean there is less last-minute ‘what the hell, I forgot all about that’ panic and you can move from task to task without dramatics. Such a win.
Take the simplest route to the end results. I’ve seen it time and time again, people will run themselves ragged fetching and scraping and sourcing something that a simple Google (or document) search would’ve turned up in a second. As questions, research before you run and you’ll find the shortcut every time.
Take your breaks. It’s a bit of a thing among business, professional type people that it’s a badge of honour to rack up millions of hours of overtime, holiday leave and to never take a sick day. But if you are working smarter, then you need to let your body and mind recharge. Working through lunch will make you slower in the afternoon. Working non-stop for a month does nothing good for you. Rest and recharge and you’ll be more effective in your role while you’re doing it. Guaranteed.
And that my friends are the steps I took, when your powers combine, that meant (MOST) of the time I’m working smarter, not harder. I know my limits now. It certainly takes something monumental to make my cry. And I enjoy my time at work, keep a clearer head and can just DEAL with things better.
Strung out isn’t a good look for anybody. Take my advice. And yes, you can apply this outside the workplace too. Just shuffle the words around a little and you’ll see big changes in your life. Smarter, not harder team, that’s the aim. Now go get some rest, you’ve got some work ahead of you!