In these days of shrinking budgets and ever-increasing demands, we’re constantly being told to do more with less, work smarter not harder. Most of us are pretty smart, but what does it actually mean to work smarter?
Working smarter means taking a good look at your own working style, habits and behavioural preferences, to see what you are doing that’s impacting on your personal efficiency. If you’re having trouble identifying anything, ask your manager, peers, family members or a coach for some feedback, or see if you can relate to any of these common inefficiency habits:
Not being organised
This can take many forms, but often comes down to not clearly identifying all of our obligations, not prioritising these in relation to urgent deadlines and longer term goals, not planning when and how we’ll tackle them, not delegating or getting help when needed, and not being able to say ‘no’.
Our brains are unable to focus on more than one thing at any given moment. If we’re trying to do two or more things at the same time, what we actually do is switch our attention very quickly back and forth between tasks. But every time we do this we’re using additional mental resources which drains our energy, and we’re wasting valuable time in the switching and refocusing process.
We live in an age in which it’s so easy to be distracted. We’ve become so used to technological interruptions that we now seek them and often crave them. And in trying to meet the ever-increasing demands of our colleagues, stakeholders and family, we easily allow them and their needs to hijack our own attention and priorities.
Many people put things off until the last possible minute, or worse, don’t get to important things at all. Sure, some people work better under pressure, but it’s unhealthy for our brains and our bodies if we operate in this state most of the time. Eventually using last minute pressure as a motivator to take action on things we’ve been putting off takes its toll on our health, our performance and our efficiency.
Once you’re aware that your own working style may be contributing to reduced efficiency, see if you can identify some changes you can make that will allow you to do things more quickly, with less effort or with better results for the same effort. Many people find that enlisting the help of a coach enables them to develop new habits and unlock enormous reserves of personal efficiency.
Prioritise your work to meet individual, team and organisational goals, and plan your days, weeks, months and years in accordance with those priorities. Get help to manage procrastination, and once you start, stay focused on the task you’re engaged in. That means managing your environment to minimise distractions, setting boundaries with others and working on increasing your own span of attention.
Call or email me to discuss how individual coaching can unlock personal efficiency for you or your team members.