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Your Clear Next Step Blog

Your Clear Next Step Blog

Are You Working Too Hard?

Work smarter, not harder, plan better!

Do you ever feel like you work way too hard and you're not seeing the fruits of your labor? In honor of Labor Day next week, we thought we'd share some tips to help you spend your precious (and finite!) time and energy on the right stuff to help you get more done and make the most out of your day.


Here are some tips to help you get more done so you can rest easy this Labor Day weekend!



1) Plan the Work & Work the Plan

128There are some of us who don't necessarily see the value in planning...why plan it when you could be rolling up your sleeves and knocking it out, right? Well, actually, planning helps you wrap your mind around a task or a day, and it will allow you to think strategically about how to complete a task at the right time with the right tools instead of floundering through it. The time you spend to plan can make the time you spend "doing" easier, and even shorter. It doesn't even have to be one task or one project--think about your entire day or week. What will you do when, and what else could come up that might interrupt or distract you?


2) Determine What's Urgent &/or Important

1866You're human. There are only so many minutes in the day. We hate to break it to you, but no matter what you do, you can't do it all. Prioritize what you have to do today, should do this week, and will do eventually. And then pick someone to motivate you to do anything in the "will do eventually" category, because, let's face it, unless it's on fire or a fun task, you might need an extra push to get you moving on it. If you're working on something that's NOT urgent or important (or both), ask yourself "Is there something else I should be doing right now?" We get trapped into paying attention to the low-hanging fruit, or fun stuff, and putting off the trickier things that will actually put a dent in our to-do list. Spending that 5 minutes each on 7 easy tasks might be more desirable, but that's 35 minutes that you could have spent on a slightly more difficult task with a more satisfying end-result.


3) Practice Good Time Management

291It's pretty common to get stuck on a task--especially for all the fiddlers and perfectionists out there (you know who you are). Is this the right font? Should I put this picture over here or up there? How can I get this wording just right? It's even easier to linger on a task if you like it. This is a trap, and you need to know when to move on. Filler, fun (or less awful) tasks are great to break up the day or help us switch to something light before we dive back into heavy think-mode, but make sure you timebox yourself. See if you can weigh your tasks in terms of priority, or in terms of what's urgent and/or important, and allocate timing accordingly. If it's a fun filler, set your timer for 15 minutes and move on when it yells at you. If it's important, but you might lose track of time, give yourself an hour or an hour and a half--remember, every time you switch tasks, you lose 15 minutes (which also explains why multitasking isn't really a thing).


4) Know Yourself and Work Accordingly

6329You know when and where you do your best work--so go do that. If you've got something icky on your plate and you need to treat yourself to a venti iced caramel latte to give you the energy (and sugar/caffeine) to get through it, then do it. If you need silence to hammer out a complicated spreadsheet, go find a quiet corner and put a "Busy" block on your calendar. Use tools you like, and do what works for you. If you receive unsolicited advise on how to do something, smile, say "thank you," and just keep on keepin' on.



We hope you can use these tips to have an even better Labor Day this year. Do you use these tips? Did they help? Let us know on social media!


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About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day.

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