Five Tips to Work Smarter, Not Harder, in 2017


Five top tips for a productive 2017.

Here are some useful pointers to help you work smarter and not harder during 2017:

1) Create mental space at the start of the day

What’s the first thing many of us do as soon as we wake up? Or once we’ve found a (cramped) space on the train or bus for the daily commute? We grab our mobiles and check social media or the latest news.

Whether you commute to an office or work from home, create space in your mind at the start of the day for internal reflection on what you want to achieve.

Try and avoid getting caught up in the first thing that looks urgent or interesting, without really thinking about your broader priorities. Do nothing for 15 minutes, leave your phone switched off and give yourself some space to think high level.

2) Break regularly

Reflecting on how successful you’ve been on a task largely only happens when you’ve stopped doing it. Take regular breaks to reset your mind and give you some closure on your recent work. Although powering through can feel like you’re being more productive, your end result may end up being less successful.

Also, ensure you get at least 30 minutes for lunch. Give your mind some time off and avoid looking on your computer phone for the duration. When you return to your desk, you’ll feel far more refreshed.

3) Monotask

There aren’t many of us who are brilliant at multi-tasking. Although we might think we are great at doing many different things at the same time, our brains can’t cope with focussing on each task as a whole.

When our brain switches between lots of different focus points, we become tired and less productive. So, instead, try monotasking more often. Choose one thing to work on and do that thing for 60-90 minutes. Any longer and you may lose momentum.

Prioritise your tasks and reduce your stress by writing each task down first and working through them in order.

4) Manage interruptions

Anybody who has a mildly stressful or busy job will tell you that they’re often being pulled multiple directions on an hourly basis. How can you get anything done?!

Ringfence time for yourself and don't feel guilty for doing so. Turn off your notifications, and close down your email when you’re trying to finish off that important proposal. When you’re done, you can answer those emails that came through whilst you were busy.

Many of you may think this is unrealistic; you need to be available for your clients at all times, right? Not necessarily. Your clients don’t know where you are, or what you’re doing every minute of the day. They won’t expect you to reply immediately. Create your own ‘available’ times and let your clients know when they’ll receive the answer they require.

5) Look after your body

Clarity of mind is closely linked to the condition of your body. If you feel sub-optimal, you'll perform that way. You don't need to hit the gym every day; it's more about the small things. Go for a short walk on your break, even just to the local coffee house; it will get the blood flowing. We also underestimate the importance of oxygen and water.

Dehydration limits brain function, so keep a 1.5 litre bottle of water on your desk and finish it by the end of each day

Whatever your challenges in 2017, remember that everything is within your control. With a little discipline and dedication to managing your environment, you can make it the best year yet!

This post was based on an original idea by Urban Guru.