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How Can I Work Smarter and Not Harder?

work smarter, not harder

How Can I Work Smarter and Not Harder?

Many people mistake being busy with being productive. But being productive means that you deliver results in a timely manner. If you want to be more productive and focus on impact without working harder, you’ll need to keep your focus on deliverables and the impact of what you’re doing.

Focus on Deliverables

A deliverable is a result you’re shooting for when you make your plans. It could be a report, a slide deck, or even an experience like a ski trip – when you focus on the result you want to create from your work, you’ll eliminate most of the busy work during the planning process.

Chunk Down Tasks

Every task has many steps that need to be done to call the task finished. Chunk each task down to these smaller steps so that nothing seems like too much work. When you have chunked down tasks, you can take five minutes to do portions of any one project rather than having to do it all at once.

Organize Your Space

The best way to work smarter is to start with an organized area to work in. You will waste a lot of time if you have to constantly look for the tools you need to work with. Even if you have to get them all out to start over, you’re less likely to do it. Set things up, so it’s easy to do so that you have no excuses.

Get Rid of Distractions

When you start to work on anything, it’s always better to focus 100 percent on the task at hand. Turn off the TV, turn off the radio, find a way to focus the time you set aside 100 percent of the task, and you’ll find you get done faster and more accurately.

Use the Right Tools

Don’t try to do things without the right tools to save a buck. The truth is, you can likely find the tools at a good price second hand and save yourself a lot of struggle. When you use the right tools, the task gets done faster without mistakes.

Delay Gratification

Sometimes to motivate yourself, it helps to delay gratification for yourself. For example, if you know, you need to create an outline for your next blog post, but you hate outlining you may set yourself up to give up. But if you set up delayed gratification that if you outline that blog post, you can have a cup of coffee or go for a walk or do something you really enjoy, you’re more likely to get it done.

Eat Right and Exercise

It’s hard for anyone to work with proficiency and speed if they’re not feeling well. If you don’t eat right, exercise, and stay hydrated, you may be wasting time being sicker than you need to be. Place a priority on your health so that you can focus on the good things in life and not illness.

Incorporate Breaks

Always set your schedule to include refreshing breaks. Check out the Pomodoro Technique, which incorporates 25-minute work sessions with five-minute breaks, and then every three “Pomodoro’s” you get a longer 30-minute break. Anyone can do any kind of work for a short time.

The thing to remember about working smarter and not harder is that there is no productivity without the product. The product is your desired result that you set when you developed your goals and objectives, whether the deliverable is 100 pounds lost or a finished novel doesn’t matter, it’s the intentional planning and delivering that is important to avoid extra work.

What Emotions Are Attached to Your Habits?

You don’t want to spend your life doing things that you don’t find fulfilling. It’s not fun to work hard to reach a goal only to realize you’re not really enjoying yourself. There are many people who feel that something’s wrong, but they can’t put their finger on it.

That’s where journaling can come in handy. When you journal, it allows you to see just how fulfilling what you’re doing with your life is. When you share your emotions in your journal, it allows you to see the connection between your emotions and your goals.

By doing this, you’ll see if what makes you happy is the too-high cost for the financial rewards or any other kind of success. If you’re not happy and you don’t feel fulfilled, then you’re just going through the motions in life.

Your emotions are linked to your habits and the reason why so many people fail to change their habits is because they don’t face whatever emotion is behind that habit. If you address the emotion, you can change the habit.

You’re not a robot, so obviously, you can’t turn off your emotions. But, if you want to find satisfaction with goals and your life in general, then you do need to determine if they’re behind why you’re doing whatever it is that you’re doing.

The thing about journaling is that you put your authentic self on the pages. You’ll open up about what your fears are. You’ll talk about what’s worrying you or making anxiety create knots in your stomach.

You’ll share how the ups and downs of your emotions might make you feel one way, when your behavior suggests something completely different is going on. If you want to be happy and truly successful, then you have to deal with the emotions.

You might have the habit of not being as productive as you could be. You put off doing tasks because the emotional link there might be fear. You’re afraid you’ll handle something the wrong way, so you keep putting it off until the last minute.

Then this procrastination makes whatever you’re doing a rush job, and it doesn’t turn out well so the failure feeds right back into the emotion of fear. Journaling allows you to see that your procrastination is rooted in fear of failure.

You’re hesitant to start something new - wary of going after what you really want. By facing those emotions, though, you can change or refine your habits and make the kind of progress with your life that you do find fulfilling.

Dig deep when you journal to see how you’re feeling whenever you’re engaging in certain habits. See if those emotions are attached to some kind of experience. See if the way that you feel betters your life or hinders it. By understanding how emotions guide your habits, you’ll be able to use their influence when they’re good for your success and appropriately respond to the ones that aren’t.

True Performers Track and Celebrate Small Achievements

Successful people track and celebrate their achievements, but many will only take the time to do this when they reach a big milestone. Or they’ll only track success when it’s something major.

Those who are truly successful don’t just focus on accomplishing the big goals. They also pay attention to the times when they take small steps - when they accomplish a small achievement.

The people who do this end up having more satisfaction with success as well as in their life. Not only that, but they also create their own momentum. Everyone wants to be successful and many people strive for that.

They want a better life, they want better relationships, they want to build a business and the list goes on. But sadly, most of those people will drop out of the race after a short time because the end just seems too far away.

The hurdles from the starting point look bigger than they thought they’d experience. Sometimes people get started chasing after success only to reach a place where they believe that the effort is too much for them.

The problem is that people who want success but don’t find it aren’t like those who do. The ones who do succeed have a different mindset. Their outlook on the journey is vastly different.

That difference is that people who want success see themselves reaching their big goals and that’s what they track. As anyone who has ever wanted to complete a big goal can tell you, looking at an end that’s so far away can be discouraging.

It can allow you to focus on issues and problems and completely miss all the positives. You can become blind to the success you’ve already experienced when you only look at the big picture.

Those who are true performers have a way of looking at the stuff that doesn’t go according to plan as just part of their journey. They don’t see it as a sign that something is failing to work out.

They see instead that they’ve eliminated one path so it’s time to head onto to the next one. These successful people can reach the big goal because they recognize the importance of a small goal.

You must always celebrate your small achievements. These signify forward momentum. True performers understand that each small step they take is hugely important because that step is crucial to getting what they want.

When you celebrate the small things, you strengthen your focus and determination. When people get discouraged and fail to achieve success, it’s usually because they haven’t taken steps that allow them to measure their success along the way.

This is what small achievements do. Like a staircase, they let you look at how far you’ve come and what you’ve accomplished and this success gives the feel good hormones in your brain a boost.

It’s important to track what you’ve done so that you can appreciate the success you have in that moment. By tracking and celebrating your success now, you’ll be able to maintain the right perspective necessary to reach your goals.

Track Your Education and Level Up on a Continual Basis

It can be easy to fall into a pattern of living life based on what you already know. This is usually a zone you get into where you know what you’re doing and so you do it. With experience in any given field, especially if it’s a lot of experience, it can be easy to start to believe that you know everything about a topic, even if you don’t.

No area of life or topic is truly stagnant. There’s always something else that you can learn. You always want to make sure that you’re the kind of person who’s always leveling up with your education.

There are several good reasons for this. When you level up with what you know, it helps to make sure that you have the latest knowledge with whatever field you’re in. This can improve your skills and it allow you to be a lot more effective with reaching your goals.

If you don’t stay on top of what’s going on in your field or niche, then you’re no longer at the cutting edge. When you level up with your education, it can help you to develop your accomplishments.

It’s difficult to excel at something when you don’t know how things have changed or expanded. You might find that your skills in that area are leaving you behind and costing you valuable opportunities.

With the development of skills, you’ll feel more self-assured and up to whatever task you face in the area you’ve grown in. Growth is inevitable in any industry. By leveling up your education, you’ll be able to see a new view, which can lead to problem solving, introducing new ideas and more.

You want to track your educational efforts so that you aren’t simply sitting still and not practicing self-growth. Boosting your education doesn’t mean that you have to head back to college.

You can if you want. But you can also take classes online. You can take a course offered by someone who teaches in whatever area it is that you want to level up in.

You can develop habits that level up your education.

This might be something like determining to develop a new skill in your field. It might be by creating a circle of peers and using the power of collective knowledge to enhance yours.  Or you might find a mentor.

Join organizations that support the field you’re in and learn from the educational material offered. Go to in person training events. Find a tutor for what you want to learn. When you’re tracking, look over the new things that you’ve learned and see how it’s added to your success.

Track Your Time Zappers

If you’re not being as productive as you’d like to be, there’s an underlying reason. You might be busy from the time that you rise until it’s time for bed - yet you don’t really feel like you’ve been as productive as you could have been.

It’s common for there to be several time zappers that occur during the day that end up causing you to waste time. Sometimes, one of the issues is that people don’t realize that a few five or ten minute breaks end up turning into something much longer.

One of the reasons for that is because when something disrupts your concentration, it takes a lot longer for you to get back into the flow of what you were doing. But by tracking your time zappers, you’ll be able to figure out what’s draining your productivity.

If you’re experiencing this, the first thing you want to check is your social media habits. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “just checking” what’s going on in your favorite online hangout, but the next thing you know, a half hour or even an hour has passed.

It’s a distraction that can get in the way of the success that you want because it steals the time you could use to further your goals. Your time zapper might be daydreaming. When you daydream, you’re creating imaginative scenes.

Your mind is wandering as part of an escape or fantasy that pulls your focus away from whatever you’re doing or supposed to be thinking about. Your mind can use daydreaming to create a mental image of what you’d like to happen.

Many daydreams focus on money, relationships, fame or create a picture of you in some other setting. Some people have a favorite time zapper such as streaming entertainment through Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus or Amazon Prime.

It’s easy to get lost binge-watching shows or movies. You can plan to check these for just a second and then realize you watched an entire season for your favorite show. Sleeping might be what steals your time.

You should definitely make sure that you get enough rest. But if you’re sleeping more than what you need, it can steal your time. A big time zapper is eating and that’s probably because a lot of people combine eating with spending time talking with others, having a cup of coffee after the meal, sharing a leisurely dessert and so on.

People can cause you to lose time. Socializing is one of the top ten ways to waste time and is also known as a form of procrastination in many situations. If you can track your time, you’ll be able to locate all the things that are robbing you of the time you could have to do what really matters.

By tracking your time, you’ll gain the ability to manage it, which means you’ll be more productive and able to accomplish your goals instead of having to put stuff off because you wasted time.

Successful People Track Other People’s Progress, Too

Success doesn’t happen living in a bubble. You don’t just need to focus your attention on how well you’re doing and not be aware of the success of others. Having blinders on so that you’re self-focused doesn’t allow you to grow as efficiently.

By being aware of the success of others, especially in the same areas where you also have or want success, you can see how well they’re doing and how you might be able to apply that knowledge in your life.

This is different from being someone who’s seeing the success of other people and is letting that turn into a comparison game. Jealousy is counterproductive and only makes you waste time and opportunity.

You want to look at their progress and allow their success to inspire you. Take the value and the positivity of what you learn, not anything that creates a negative response.

Tracking someone else’s progress is a way to let their achievements create a stronger motivation within yourself. It allows you to think that you can have the same kind of progress.

You can do this by not allowing yourself to feel jealous but by seeing what they’re doing and then looking at how they’re doing it. Because you could learn something in their actions or life that can help you with your own progress.

Successful people will also track the progress of the people who are a part of their career. When you take this step, it allows you to see where the strengths are and prevents anyone from weakening the chain of progress.

Tracking other people’s success can push you outside your comfort zone. When you see their progress, you can see that what you want is just as doable. It lets you push past your own internal limitations.

The people that you pay attention to can affect your mindset. If you track people who are successful, that success can be contagious simply because it makes you feel fired up inside. You absorb from every successful person you track.

Your life can reflect the potential of other people, especially those who are successful and you feel challenge you to reach for the next level.

By tracking success of other people’s progress, you will inevitably emulate their best traits.

When you track other people’s progress, you’re giving your brain a success boost. You’ll absorb not just their ways and habits of other successful people, but you’ll absorb their attitude as well and be able to apply that in ways that help you to be more successful. When you track other people this way, it also gives you hope that you’re on the right path, too.

Measure Your Accountability Versus Blame

If you’re striving to reach a goal, you can bet that something will go wrong. You’ll be under pressure to finish something and the next thing you know, a deadline was missed or a project won’t turn out well.

In the fallout of things going wrong, you could end up losing money, spending too much time trying to unsnarl what happened and maybe you’ll lose clients over what happened if you’re running a business.

When things like this occur, it can be frustrating, especially if whatever happens halts your momentum. At this point, when everything is weighing on you, it’s easy for emotions to boil over because you’re upset and because problems in general cause a lot of stress.

But it’s important for those who lead not to assign blame to someone else. That doesn’t necessarily mean that someone isn’t to blame for whatever went wrong. The problem is that it can become a knee-jerk reaction to let the responsibility for whatever happened land at someone else’s feet.

The reason people don’t like taking responsibility is because whenever you do something that ends badly, it can be embarrassing or make you feel guilty - especially if it’s your fault and other people are impacted by the situation.

But instead of feeling bad about things or finding someone to blame, ask yourself what steps you need to take in order to find a solution. By not placing blame and instead accepting accountability, you open yourself up to be making progress toward your success.

To keep yourself accountable, you want to journal so that you’re checking in with yourself. This will enable you to track to see if you’re accepting the blame for whatever has happened.

When you have a setback or your goal is delayed because of whatever has happened, you don’t want to waste more time by trying to find who or what to blame. Instead, you just want to assign the responsibility to yourself so that you don’t get sidetracked.

You also don’t want to get sidetracked by the emotions that come with trying to figure out who or what’s to blame. It’s a waste of time and energy to let anger or irritation or anxiety wash over you when something goes wrong.

It’s better to have the mindset that something you didn’t plan or want happened and now you need to move on. By accepting accountability, it sets you free from a situation that could hold you back.

 But it also sets you free from a situation that could cause issues with those that you might be responsible for leading. A successful leader doesn’t look for someone to blame. He looks for solutions. Track your accountability and you’ll be a better leader

Know Your Intentions and Track How Well You Do

If you want to be successful, you should know your intentions. If you intend to do something, it means that you’re aiming for a goal. You mean to get there and you’d like to accomplish that in the end.

Intentions can be anything. You might have decided what you want your financial picture to look like. You can already see how you’re going to use your wealth once you reach those monetary goals.

You have action steps for reaching these goals. You know going into it what you’re going to have to do each step of the way to see that your goals become reality. Intentions aren’t like that at all.

With an intention, you don’t really have a concrete blueprint for accomplishing your goal in mind. You don’t have anything planned out in advance. You mean to get there, but you don’t have any idea whether or not getting there is actually going to occur - you’re just going to try.

Having intentions isn’t a bad thing. It’s just what people do when they hope for something and they’re going to head that direction. It’s not like a step by step blueprint that you follow.

That doesn’t mean intentions don’t work. So don’t discount the power of intentions. It depends on several different factors. They can either help or hurt your path to success. It all depends on what you do with your intentions if you do things that you can control.

For example, you can intend to win the lottery and buy a ticket, but you have no control over whether or not you’ll actually achieve that. You can intend to have your business make a million dollars in its first year, but you can’t control that, either.

All you can do is aim for that if it’s what you want. You can discover your intentions through journaling. This lets you track how well you do with what you’d hoped would happen.

As you journal, you can discover what interests you about your intention. It’s a way of allowing you to define a hope or dream. For example, you might intend to make more money.

But if you journal about that intention, you might discover that what interests you about it is so that you can quit your day job and be your own boss. By tracking your intentions, you’ll be able to tell if these intentions bear fruit or not.

You’ll be able to track if your efforts allow your intentions to come true. Having intentions can help you follow your own path with what you’d like to see in your life. However, that doesn’t mean that intentions can lead to guaranteed results.

You can put all your effort into something and sometimes, no matter how much you might want that thing to happen for you, your intention just doesn’t work out. That should lead you back to the drawing board for a more substantive plan.

If You Want to Experience Success, Make Sure It’s Not All About Money

Far too many people think the amount of money they have in their bank account determines whether or not they’re a success. If they don’t have much money, they feel that reflects personally on them.

But when you attribute the amount of money you have to your own worth, it can cripple your self-esteem to the point that it’ll make you feel like you can’t do anything. When you attempt to determine what you’re worth, how you feel about yourself and your success, you’ll always feel like you fall short.

That’s not because something is wrong with you. The problem is that you’re trying to give your self-worth a monetary attachment. When you feel like you have enough money, enough success, you’ll feel worthy and act like you can accomplish anything.

But when you don’t, the opposite will happen. And, as your money fluctuates, so will how you feel about yourself. There are consequences to making your success all about the money.

You can build an entire life and belief system that rests on feeling good because you’re wealthy. But if something happens to tear everything out from under you, the emotions will hit you hard and you’ll find it difficult to be able to function because the foundation that you stood on, that you based success on, changed.

You want your self-worth, just like your success, to be based on what doesn’t change. What doesn’t change is your character. Your character is who you are as a person as evidenced by your character traits such as you’re fair, responsible, optimistic, honest, and so on.

Your character is your true value. Your moral path is similar. You exhibit outward signs of the good that’s within you. This might be loyalty, having a strong sense of empathy, being courageous, or choosing to do what’s right even when it would be easier to do what’s wrong.

That should be figured in as what makes you successful. You want to look at the entire person that you are, not just your career, the amount of money that you have and where you are successfully versus where someone else is in life.

Measure who you are by defining what’s important to you and let that line up with your success. Because this is who you truly are. When you seek success based on what your personal values are rather than just chasing wealth, then you will find success.

By taking a look at who you are and what matters to you, you’ll be able to measure every aspect of yourself. These measures can easily be tracked in a journal. For example, you can measure how you experienced emotional growth and see how that intersects with your success.

By tracking your whole person, you’ll be able to see your own growth. But on the other hand, you’ll also be able to see areas where you can improve.

Don’t Always Have an Agenda for Personal Growth

Journaling can be a great way to find clarity with your success or to develop self-improvement. That’s provided that it’s used as an effective measuring tool. But you do have to be careful that you don’t use it like a hammer to pound yourself harshly.

Sometimes when people journal to track their lives, they tend to have an agenda and that agenda doesn’t always leave any wiggle room. Instead, it’s strict and creates an either/or way of tallying maybe what they need, but not in the best way of getting it done.

When you journal so that you track success, it’s okay to have a goal for something that you want improvement on, but it doesn’t always have to be that strict. If you want to accomplish something such as taking your income up another level, the steps that you journal to get there don’t have to be rigid and leave you feeling like there’s no other alternative.

When you have an agenda for personal growth, that’s not a bad thing as long as you don’t make it one. It’s okay when you journal to just sit down and let your thoughts go in the direction that they go.

Don’t have a destination in mind. Just free your thoughts. Don’t give them a label of good or bad, just pour out what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling and whatever it is that your hopes or dreams are.

Give yourself love and kindness when you journal. You don’t have to always push yourself to take action. You don’t have to have a plan. You can just put into words what you’re dealing with or what you want to get out of your system.

Don’t force yourself to fit into a certain success box when you journal. This can happen when you fall into the thinking that if you’re going to track your success then you need to make sure you write down what is or isn’t working, what you are or aren’t doing every time you journal.

Just write whatever you want. Even if you just write something like how the scent of a candle made you feel like working or not. Or it reminded you of something you’d like to have in your life.

There are no rules to journaling for success or personal growth. What you might not realize is that when you’re doing a free-style type journal, it is a form of self-growth. That’s because you’re giving yourself the freedom to be who you are and what you feel like doing in that moment.

That doesn’t mean that the moment won’t change the next time you approach journaling. You can take the thoughts that you wrote when you were writing without an agenda and look them over.

This will let you revisit what you wrote when you’re in that working state of mind. You might look back and find nuggets of wisdom in what you wrote that will help take you in a new direction when you’re rereading the words.

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