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Work Smarter, Not Harder: And You Can Start by Forgetting that Multi-tasking Nonsense...

Work Smarter Not Harder

4 min read

Posted by Amy Lucas on May 26, 2016

No matter how much we may love our jobs, it’s important to strike a balance, leaving room for relaxation and play. And while it’s great to be industrious and hardworking, why work harder than we actually need to? Especially when we could save so much time and energy by working smarter! Whether you’re a small business owner, as many of you are, or an employee with a passion for advancement, it’s not always easy to find the sweet spot for work productivity. Busy doesn’t necessarily mean productive, so I'm going to share some busy-busting tips to help you work far more efficiently.

Multi-tasking Is a Myth

Multi-tasking fits right in with the hectic pace of modern life… and we just love it! Unfortunately, our brains don’t. We actually can’t do more than one cognitive task at a time. Multi-tasking is really just task switching, and it has an adverse affect on productivity. According to this article in Psychology Today, research shows:
  • Switching from task to task (aka multi-tasking) takes more time than focusing on just one task.
  • You make fewer errors if you focus on one task at a time.
  • Every time you switch between tasks you lose 1/10th of a second, but that can add up to as much as a 40% productivity loss in a day!
Working smarter means breaking the multi-tasking habit, and zeroing in on one to-do item at a time - which brings us to the importance of prioritization.

Prioritize Projects

At the start of every week and every day review your priorities. If you’re a list person, then write them out with handy check mark boxes to the side. If you love your tech, try one of the many apps available, as neatly wrapped up on this list. Once you’ve determined your most time-sensitive priorities, set a time limit for each task and then stick with it. Try not to cave to multi-tasking!

Time Suckers

Along with prioritizing projects comes identifying time suckers, such as checking your email every two minutes, or being lured in by a headline on your home page. Check your email at assigned times of the day. Perhaps first thing in the morning, right after lunch, and before you leave for the day. Then turn off notifications so you aren’t tempted to re-engage. If you find yourself procrastinating with unnecessary tasks or distractions, then write out specifically what has got you on a detour. Sometimes, having a helpful reminder of “what not to do” nearby can whip your attention back to your prioritized task.

Respect Your Brain Power

Science says that on average the brain can only remain concentrated on a task for 90 minutes. It’s part of our ultradian rhythm. Yup, you read that right. Circadian rhythm refers to the 24-hour sleep/wake cycle, but we experience an ultradian rhythm every 90 to 120 minutes, and it’s important to respect your brain’s desire for some downtime. Experts typically recommend taking a 15-minute break once every 90 minutes, or taking a 10-minute break once every hour. Research also shows that taking a break in nature, such as enjoying a 15-minute stroll through the park, can help recalibrate your focus. Too often, we bring our work home with us, which isn’t good for our social lives, our family lives, or our productivity. Take at least one full day a week to do no work. You need that time to recharge your brain!

Rest…and Then Rest Some More

It’s tough to work smarter on lack of sleep. Shoot for between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Sleep experts recommend going to bed and waking up at around the same times every day in order to maximize sleep quality. And don’t be afraid to check out for 30 minutes and take a nap. Studies suggest that naps can improve brain function and boost creativity and memory. Don't you just love the science here! Napping at work

Work Well With Others

We are sure you’re a master at getting along with others, but how good are you at saying “no”? It’s important to know your limits, communicate properly, and manage expectations. Sometimes saying “no” is preferable to saying “yes” and then not being able to deliver quality work on time. Working well with others also means maximizing people’s strengths and delegating tasks to them that may not be your forte. Delegating frees up your time so that you can say “yes” a little more often. Concise communication is also preferable when it comes to working smarter. Don’t be too verbose in meetings, but strive to get your point across clearly and succinctly. Likewise, with emails, when they’re too wordy, people tend to skip over important points. So, to sum up, it’s all about: singular focus, lots of brain breaks, minimal distractions, and respecting your limits. Comment below with any tips you have for working smarter, not harder. We’d love to hear from you!

Amy Lucas

Amy Lucas

LA based actress and writer, Amy Lucas, is our resident beauty blogger. With a penchant for living life to full, you'll find her here sharing her musings on health & wellness and of course beauty. We're sure you'll love her positive, open and honest approach to life. It's a much needed breath of fresh air and we are thrilled to have her as a contributing author on the Glad Lash Blog! You can read more from Amy at her personal blog

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