Have you noticed this?
You begin working on something. You follow prescribed techniques and templates to do it.
Slowly, you realize you’re working hard, putting in more hours and effort. You would rather work smart — more output for less effort. How can you do it?
Simple. Get rid of this toxic phrase — “This is how it’s always done.”
Think about it.
When you start a new task, people who apparently know better, say, “This is how it’s always done. Follow this method and you’ll be fine.” So you follow preset techniques and templates without thinking. The result? You become a victim of mindless hard work. You feel like a hamster on a wheel — working hard yet going nowhere.
On the other hand, when you free your mind of preconceived notions and look for ways to optimize your work, you turn even the most mundane task into something fun. That’s when you start working smart.
Use Your Energy Wisely
According to Dilbert creator Scott Adams, your personal energy is your most precious resource. You cannot manage time, because it doesn’t belong to you. You can manage tasks. To do that, you must use your personal energy wisely.
Applying your energy wisely keeps you happy while working. You don’t have to wait to be happy after you achieve a goal. To work smart, you must work hard. But what you do matters more than how much you do.
When a plane takes off from the ground, it uses 110 percent thrust. Once it reaches an altitude of 25,000 feet, it cruises at 60 percent thrust.
Most people apply 100 percent energy for the entire journey. many of them burn out long before they reach their goals. The smart workers, on the other hand, apply 60 percent and yet are more efficient and effective. Which one would you rather be?
As I mentioned before, smart work involves hard work. You must put in 110 percent energy. But divide this energy. Invest 70 percent in doing the task, and 40 percent deconstructing why you do it at an elementary level.
Take time to dive deeper into what you do. Identify the crucial elements and steps which offer highest returns. Once you do, the neurons in your brain will start flying all over the place to form seemingly unrelated connections. You’ll discover faster, easier and better ways to do the same task, with better results.
Set a goal. It’s important to know where you want to go. But don’t commit to it. A goal can demotivate you, or leave you feeling hollow once you’ve achieved it.
Instead, commit to a process — the process of deconstructing and optimizing. Invest energy and time to study why you do what you do. Imbibe it deeply within you. Then, look for ways to improve. When this process becomes a habit, working smart will come naturally to you.
According to Jason Fried, there’s no such thing as “this is how it’s always done,” but “this is how it has been done until now.” You should learn from people who have skin in the game. But don’t let that stop you from discovering your own processes. Conduct tiny experiments and pay close attention to what you learn from them. At the end, you’ll have a better outcome or a better lesson. Either way, you’ll work smarter.
Success, just like working smart, is nothing but a result of consistent habits.