Minding Her Own Business: Become a Business Magnet

7 Ways to Work Smarter

By Saralyn Collins


The common suggestion that we “work smarter” instead of harder is a good one. Who wouldn’t want to do that?


Often, however, this advice falls short of actually providing information about what it really means or how to apply it.


Are you thinking now about what you can do to make this coming year one of greater productivity and profitability? Here are seven sure-fire ways you can start working smarter today!


Work Proactively: (This is different from “Re-actively”!) When you are planning a project or your tasks for the day, consider the impact what you do now might have on your future productivity. A little extra time spent today on making tasks more efficient and simple will leverage tons of extra time for you in the future. Start now using “Outcome Based Thinking” as your formula and you will be amazed at the difference. Preplanning your desired outcomes and then only spending time on activities that build that outcome naturally works wonders for productivity!


Get Organized: Before you begin anything, make sure you have a plan of action that specifies your desired end result and how you will achieve it. Prepare yourself in advance by securing all of the necessary supplies, materials, resources, and people. Organize any files, paperwork, manuals, reference information, etc. in a logical way so anyone could find it when it is needed. This will save you from having to waste time searching for stuff and refocusing your attention each time. When you know your outcomes in advance, then you have to change both your language and your actions to match those outcomes.


Standardize Activities: When you have activities you engage in on a regular basis, find a way to standardize your process. Do it the same way each time rather than reinventing it each time. If you need it written down, a flow chart is a much quicker reference than a written procedure. Each subsequent time you implement an activity, consider how you might simplify it or make it more efficient. When you discover steps that aren’t needed, eliminate them. When you find ways to do it more efficiently, incorporate them.


Automate Tasks: Find ways to help make parts of or entire tasks automatic. Today’s technology offers endless possibilities for this. Computer software can be utilized for list management—including your to-do list, database management, budgeting, word processing, etc. Take a class or get a good manual so that you’re aware of possibilities you might not realize exist.


Streamline Your Workflow: Learn to look at the big picture as well as each individual task. There might be pieces you can combine or coordinate, reducing your total execution time. Batch similar tasks together and do them all at once rather than spreading them out (i.e. keep a list of every errand you need to run in town and when you have ten or more, make one trip to complete them all).


Eliminate Waste: Project possible roadblocks ahead of time and make a plan for what you will do in those situations. Pick out tasks that can be done if you run into a roadblock so you can continue working on something rather than waiting for something else to happen. By having a handy “to-do list” you can quickly find tasks that might fill any available time that just comes up. But having that list handy means you have to have written and organized it to begin with. Too many people don’t really understand how to write out a workable list much less how to actually accomplish everything on that list.


Keep your end result in mind and if you find yourself doing something that isn’t contributing to your goal, stop doing it. (Of course, that could possibly cut out much of your daily activity. Be ready to move away from anything not supported by your desired outcomes.) Consider whether or not you include unnecessary steps or rituals in your work style. Reduce time spent making corrections by upfront planning, pacing your workflow so you’re not in a rush, and working checks and balances into your process whenever possible.


Build Your Ability to Focus: The ability to focus or concentrate your attention onto one thing is a skill that can be learned and further developed. It has been fairly well proven now that those of us who previously prided ourselves on our ability to multi-task were truly not doing ourselves or anyone else a favor. The ability to really focus in on one thing, like your task at hand, helps reduce natural tendencies to react to external distractions and interruptions.


So here is the bottom line: If 2013 is going to be more successful than this year has been (and who wouldn’t want that?) then you are going to have to change some of the ways you do things. You’ve heard it before but maybe this is a good time to remember; “If you keep on doing what you’ve been doing…. you WILL keep on getting what you’ve been getting!”


These steps will at least get you on the right starting track, but in the words of Mark Twain… “You WILL get run over if you just sit there!” So do something … NOW!


If you want information about how to start the New Year on the right track, contact Saralyn at Saralyn@SaralynCollins.com or (828) 649-8011

Written by Saralyn Collins