Believe it or not, there are people out there who only ever work their contracted hours but still manage to exceed expectations in what they manage to deliver. Believe it or not, there are people out there that dare to leave the office as soon as the clock strikes 5pm. Believe it or not, there are even people daring enough to keep their evenings and weekends completely free for a selfish dose of ‘me time’. I know, crazy right?
So many of us just aren’t able to complete our work within the allotted time period and are left feeling as though we have to stay in the workplace later and later each week. I used to be this person as a rule. Now, I’m this person as an exception. Rarely do I work over my contracted hours. I even dare to take back time on a Friday afternoon if I don’t have any further work to do. How? Because I live and work smart… not hard.
Some people have the ability to just get things done. Inside and out of a working capacity. Others, can only reach their goals and action those tasks when they extend their days and stresses. The question I ask, is this: If some can achieve what they set out to without driving themselves beyond capacity, then why can’t everyone? If this really does come down to working smart, rather than hard, then what does this look like in practice?
Working smart, rather than hard, is sometimes easier said than done, but I believe that with a few small changes we can all be on the way to working less but achieving more.
Reflect on the Day Just Gone
Certainly within a work context, one of the greatest stresses can be not knowing what you managed to achieve that day. Spending 8 hours at work and not having done anything is a real challenge. Even the laziest of us would be too bored not to work. But there are certainly days when it seems like you haven’t achieved anything. Taking 10 minutes at the end of the day to look back at what you have managed to complete is a great way of relieving that stress.
Set a Bedtime
I don’t mean to sound like a pushy parent, but at all ages having a set bedtime can be a perfect end to a day. This goes hand in hand with my next point, leading you towards sleeping for a set number of hours each night. Scientific evidence shows that most people need 6-8 hours of sleep per night to truly rejuvenate the mind and body enough to be productive during the daytime. Getting in to a good sleeping routine is a great place to start.
Ban the Snooze Button
I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like to snooze. There seems to be a joy in setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier purely so that you can sleep for an extra 10 minutes. This not only doesn’t make any logical sense, but it also doesn’t help you to start the day well. Your body sleeps in 2 hour patterns and that ‘extra’ 10 minutes can end up having the opposite effect then you hoped for, as your body fights to stay in its sleep cycle. Set your alarm for when you need to get out of bed and stick to it. It really does make a difference to your day when you don’t try to stall it.
Utilise Your Mornings
There are some things we have to do with our mornings: wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, make our way to work. The repetitive process takes longer for some than others. Many pf us don’t manage to achieve much more than making it out of the door on time. An article from BusinessInsider shows us what times 21 successful people wake up at and what the get up to in those early hours. Most exercise (we’ll come on to that), and all make the most out of the early, quieter hours.
Prepare For the Week Ahead
Though you wouldn’t expect me to tell you to work on the weekend I do think that there’s a time and a place for planning the week ahead. Spending half an hour to think about what you need to do before you hit your desk on Monday morning can work wonders for someone that would usually spend the first hour or so pondering where to start. Dedicating a small part of your weekend to planning your Monday morning can also be a great way to plan your week before the distractions from the office, emails and phone calls start.
Pursue Your Passion
In the busyness of life it can be easy to forget to spend time on the things you’re really passionate about. I love this quote from an unknown source
“Don’t work 8 hours for a company then go home and not work on your own goals.”
It’s easy to fall in to the trap of working really hard for your company but not on your own personal passions. Making time to completely leave the workplace behind you and focusing on something you truly love can make a surprising difference to your productivity. Instead of resenting your job, you learn the art of a work life balance in which you can leave work at the office door and enjoy your free time that you work so hard to deserve.
Exercise releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel happy. These endorphins are the same natural chemical that we realise when we fall in love. There are more benefits to exercising than weight loss or staying in shape. It’s a fantastic way of boosting productivity throughout the day, helping you to get your work done faster. LiveStrong reveals that one way exercise can help boost productivity at work is through alertness. When you exercise blood flow to the brain increases, which can help to sharpen your awareness and make you more ready to tackle your next big project.
So why not give some of these lifestyle changes a go and see if you can Make the Most out of Your Work Day.