By Nicole Hughes, IEP Campus Coordinator 

You can cut your lawn with scissors. And no one will doubt you’re working incredibly hard. But using a different set of tools could allow you to finish the same job much more efficiently. See below for some tried and true tips for working smarter, not harder to complete tasks and reach your goals.

  1. Prioritize (A.K.A. Pick Two)
    1. At the beginning of every day, decide on two tasks you absolutely must get done within the day. Write them down and then check them off when you’ve finished! Something as simple as prioritizing 2 tasks versus looking at an entire 30 point to-do list makes a huge difference in terms of setting yourself up for success in your day instead of feeling overwhelmed. Anything else you complete after your 2 established goals is just icing on the cake.  
  2. Batch
    1. Instead of switching from task to task to task throughout your workday, set aside chunks of time to work in a particular area. And then hold yourself accountable to that time slot. For instance, twice per week, block off time in the morning on your calendar to focus in on a project. Set aside a different time to strategize about another project. Try to plan most of your meetings on the same day every week. By avoiding constantly switching back and forth between tasks, your thoughts and energy can be completely focused in on the task at hand without the constant interruptions. And speaking of constant interruptions….
  3. Pause the Inbox
    1. Email is consistently rated as one of the biggest productivity killers in any office. It can take 25 minutes to get back on track after responding to an email. And I’ll be the first to say that I’m as guilty as anyone. We’ve all been there – happily working away when we happen to click over to the dreaded email tab…and then we don’t return to the original task until an hour later. So pause it using a simple extension! Even if you’re only comfortable with pausing your email for a few hours at a time, it will free up your mind and time to focus in on your current project.
  4. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
    1. Before starting a new project or venture, check to see if others in your office or field have any resources you can use! Has anyone done something similar? Can you base your model off of their example in order to save the time of creating something from scratch? It’s all about reducing, reusing, and recycling to free up your time for other endeavors.

Using simple tools and strategies like the ones above allow you to complete the same amount of work in less time. You’ll feel more relaxed and have time to complete some of those exciting projects you’ve had waiting in the wings!

Do you have other successful strategies to work smarter? We’d love to hear them! Let us know in the comments below!