How to Work Smart First, Hard Second

Originally published on SEBASTIAN.CO

It is not those who work the hardest who succeed the most; it’s those who work smart first and hard second who succeed the most.

To work smart you have to be working on the right things. And to work on the right things you have to plan and define what it is that you’re trying to accomplish.

After planning, besides focusing on your strengths, practicing the 80/20 rule, eliminating, delegating, and automating as much as possible, and focusing on one thing at a time, there are a few more things you can do:

  • You can always work with urgency by remembering that your time is very limited; remembering that you are going to die.
  • You can work on Airplane Mode or with your devices turned off, so that nothing interrupts your work. Simply let people know your schedule.
  • You can break your work into small pieces that you can tackle easily day by day, instead of being overwhelmed by the whole thing at once.
  • You can get the ball rolling and just do what you can at the time; and over time your work will suddenly be done.
  • You can work in batches, doing similar tasks all at once. For example, one day you might work on all the images of your project. Batching will also give you the continuous practice you need to sharpen your skills.
  • You can work on the hardest tasks in the hours where your willpower is the highest, and on the easiest tasks when your willpower is the lowest.
  • You can force yourself into an environment where there is nothing else to do, but work, or an environment that inspires your best work.
  • You can play a looped song while you work. For this method I use instrumentals and avoid songs that trigger bad memories and bad patterns.
  • You can tap into your current emotional state. If you’re feeling depressed, try tapping into that energy and transform it into work.
  • You can work in time intervals using the Pomodoro Technique, where you focus for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break, and then do as many sets as you need; there are many Pomodoro apps and add-ons available.
  • Lastly, be aware of Parkinson’s Law, which states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, if you have a week to do something, you’ll probably take the whole week to do it. Be aware of it and fight against it by working with focus and with urgency.

Work smart by planning well, by working effectively, and by working hard.

“Well begun is half done.” ― Aristotle
“Plan your work and work your plan.” ― Napoleon Hill

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