10 tips for working smarter, not harder
In this day and age, it’s incredibly easy to get sucked into the “hustle” and “grind” mentality. People are praised for working a ridiculous amount of hours, ultimately sacrificing their own physical and emotional wellbeing for a paycheck. What if I told you that you could tackle your to-do list, accomplish your goals, and still make it home at a decent hour with your mental state intact? It may sound crazy, but I promise, it’s possible.
So, here are 10 tips on how to work smarter, not harder.
- Set clear goals and crush them.
Focus your energy on getting the important things done, not getting everything done. The 80/20 rule generally applies to most things in business, and in this case, it refers to the fact that 80% of your money is going to come from 20% of your clients, so focus on the necessary tasks to move the needle in the right direction. A good way to focus more on what’s really important is by setting feasible, actionable goals for yourself and your company. You must get serious about them, first and foremost, and use clear, specific language about what it is you want to achieve. It’s hard to work toward something that you haven’t been 100% clear about, so take the time to sit down and write out what it is you want to accomplish and when.
Part of this process can include making a list. This could be a step-by-step list of how you want to achieve these goals, or you can create a to-do list of the tasks you’d like to complete within a specific timeframe. Whatever it is, make sure you’re specific and deliberate, as any generalizations or generic language can confuse you, causing you to procrastinate or abandon your plans altogether. Another helpful step in the goal-setting process is making them visible. Whether you share your goals with a friend or leave sticky-note reminders around your office, it’s important that your goals are in your face, so you can hold yourself accountable and avoid forgetting them or becoming lost in the process.
- Pick up the phone or slide in the DMs.
With the prevalence of social media in today’s society, there’s literally no excuse for not learning as much as you can about your specific industry. Find people you admire on these social media sites, reach out to them, and ask if you can get 15 minutes of their time to pick their brain about whatever topics you’re currently interested in. A lunch/coffee meeting or a quick phone conversation can put you six months ahead of other colleagues and even your competition. In the same vein, it’s important that you find people to network with in your industry. A great way to do this is at trade show events or industry conferences. I’ve met countless folks who were willing to give me “free advice” over a glass of wine at a reception.
Drew Houston, Co-Founder and CE) of Drop Box suggests, “Talk[ing] with other entrepreneurs. Not just famous entrepreneurs, but people who are one year ahead, two years ahead, five years ahead.” The amount of information you can find on Google about running a business is endless, but starting and maintaining a business is still hard work. I’ve met quite a few people along the way who were willing to give me just a little bit of their time and advice. Those brief conversations have made all the difference and have helped me to cut months, even years, off of my workload.
- Hire people for growth.
One of the most crucial aspects of my business’s success was realizing that I can’t do everything, nor should I. There are parts of the business world that I excel at more than others, and that’s where hiring comes into play. It’s vital to the success of your business and your wellbeing that you hire someone to undertake the responsibilities that you can no longer dedicate all of your time. For example, it may be hard for you to act as a salesperson, bookkeeper, social media manager, and a customer service rep in one 8-hour workday. Instead of spreading yourself thin, hire other qualified candidates who can assist you in accomplishing the daily tasks and goals of your company. Who knows; they may even teach you a thing or two that you didn’t know before.
- Refuel to rejuvenate.
As I stated before, “hustle and grind” culture is very real in today’s society. While it’s great that people are so passionate about their goals and are willing to work incredibly hard to accomplish them, there comes a time when a bit of rest and recuperation becomes necessary. When you overwork, you’re doing yourself and your company a disservice. While you may think a never-ending hustle is the key to achieving overnight success, you have to realize that you will eventually burnout, which could spell disaster for your business ventures. Everything in moderation; and business is no different.
Now I’m not saying you should throw away all your hard work and become a couch potato forever. As a certified workaholic, I understand the near obsession of working until my eyes cross. However, I also had to learn the importance of taking a step back and slowing down every once in a while. Refueling gives you the chance to see your company from a different perspective, and it could be the perfect opportunity to recharge your creativity and come back better than ever with more efficient ways to run your business!
- Eliminate decision fatigue.
I used to take forever to make decisions, but one day, someone gave me great advice. “Call it like an umpire. You’re either out, or you’re safe, but the game must go on.” After receiving this piece of advice, I never really fretted over a decision again; and to be honest, I couldn’t afford to. As theCEO of an ever-growing company, there are new ideas, concepts, and strategies being thrown my way every day. In any given week, I have an incredible amount of decisions to make regarding business partnerships, product development, in-house situations, etc. If I spent nearly as much time as I used to on every single decision, I’d be months behind schedule.
I had to change my entire decision-making process by thinking quickly and critically about each situation. I often use my morning hours for the most important business decisions I have to make that day. In the morning, my mind is fresh and can think objectively about a situation better than if I waited until the end of the workday.
- Outsource strategically.
The hardest part of growing my company was coming to terms with the fact that I’m not Superwoman. I can’t do everything on my own, and I quickly learned that I needed help. As much as I wanted to be able to do my bookkeeping, sales, and payroll all on my own, I knew it wouldn’t be a sustainable practice; I would eventually run myself into the ground trying to keep up with every little thing that comes with running a successful business.
Instead of relying solely on myself for everything, I began to focus on the things that I’m the best at and outsourcing the rest. Now, I have a marketing/social media team, customer service reps, salespeople, an accountant, etc. I’ve freed up my plate a bit, while also providing career opportunities for others. It’s a win-win!
- Tighten up meetings.
At TGIN, meetings are a necessary evil. While some things can be discussed or announced through a quick email thread, other things require in-person, face-to-face conversations. Everyone is busy and has quite a lengthy to-do list, so it’s imperative that these meetings are short and sweet. I often tell my team members to bring some notes and talking points along with them to our meetings, so we can quickly and efficiently discuss the most important topics without wasting time talking about things that can be left for email conversations.
- Hire people smarter than you.
Similar to my point about hiring and outsourcing, it’s important that you hire employees that are smarter than you. By this, I mean to hire people who know more about certain topics than you do. As I said before, I started to focus on the areas of business that I was good at, and I hired/outsourced for the things that I was just okay at. The only way to grow and succeed in business is by surrounding yourself with like-minded, talented individuals who really know their stuff.
- Do one single thing at a time.
People like to think that they should multi-task, especially when they have a million things on their to-do list. However, that’s really not the case. It’s virtually impossible to do thorough, accurate work on three things at once. Instead of jumping around from one task to another without completing the job fully, focus on doing one thing at a time by prioritizing your most important projects first on your list; leave the tasks that require little to no effort for the end of the day, so you can utilize your most efficient brain power for the more demanding work. By doing this, your mind is concentrated on a single topic, and you’re able to complete it as thoroughly and efficiently as possible.
- Ignore what everyone else, including your competitors, are doing.
It can be so easy to get caught up in what your competitors are doing, who they’re partnering with, and what business trips they’re taking. Focusing on all of that can really get you down, especially if things seem to be happening slower for you and your business. Instead of constantly looking at what others are doing, concentrate on you and your work. What can you do differently to grow your company? Are there any tasks or responsibilities that you are actively avoiding? Take some time to reflect on your business, and make the necessary moves to accomplish your goals.