If productivity advice were music, “Work Smarter, Not Harder” would be one of the biggest chart toppers of all time. But like most popular ditties, the tune familiar, but the meaning is somewhat unclear. What does it actually mean?
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In part, it’s about taking the long view. At Levo League, Kate Matsudaira writes about coping with a shift in working styles when she discovered she was pregnant with her first child.
“Working smart can be a hard pill for a ‘working hard’ type to swallow, since working smart tends to mean letting go of certain projects to free up time,” writes Matsudaira. “The key is to take your career on a long horizon. Don’t look at what a decision could mean for the next six months or the next year; instead, think about what it will mean over 10 or even 20 years.”
And how do you do that?
1. Don’t do everything yourself.
“Working hard” types aren’t always the greatest delegaters. If you want something done, do it yourself — but only if you want to do every single thing that needs doing for the rest of your tenure at your company.
Delegating means giving up a bit of control and perfectionism, in order to invest in the future — one in which you don’t have to take care of every detail.
2. Don’t let other people’s schedules dictate yours.
This is one of Matsudaira’s big points, and it’s a good one. Of course, you’ll have cope with last-minute meeting requests from your boss and teammates, but as much as possible, say no to the schedule-changers that aren’t necessary or helpful to your career goals. That might mean turning down a few networking coffees or informational meetings. It definitely means getting out of the habit of answering every email seconds after it arrives.
3. Let an app do the work.
There’s a productivity app to solve just about every work-smarter challenge you’re facing. This list is a good place to start.
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