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9 Ways To Work Smarter Than Others

9 Ways To Work Smarter Than Others

Do you ever have lots of work to do and not enough time to get it all done? That’s not unusual. Many people complain about having a never-ending to-do list with items that never seem to get ticked off. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways to improve your daily experience and get more work done more quickly and more efficiently. With a couple of simple changes to your day, you can turn yourself into a powerhouse of productivity and efficiency. The best place to start is with your goals.

1. Know your goals

If you are clear about what you want to achieve, that’s a great start. People who don’t define their weekly, monthly or yearly goals end up being the busy fools, frantically racing from one task to the next without really knowing which one is their priority. Having clearly-defined goals eliminates this possibility. Knowing what you are aiming for helps when deciding what is your top priority and what you should be working on each day. Once you decide which tasks have priority, the next step is to schedule them.

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2. Schedule your time

My number one tip for beating procrastination and staying focused is to use your calendar. What gets scheduled gets done, or at least doesn’t get forgotten about. Once you schedule something into your calendar, it will get done sooner or later. So often people complain that urgent daily tasks push out what they had scheduled. This may happen at times, so when it does, reschedule your planned task for tomorrow or your next available slot. But remember to always ask yourself which task has priority. Sometimes tasks appear urgent but they could actually wait for tomorrow.

3. Turn stuff off

Ever get disturbed by a text message while you are writing a report, or by an email notification while concentrating on important documentation? If you want to be smarter than others, the wisest solution is to switch off your phone and gadgets and close any programs on your computer that you are not currently using.

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4. Use a task management system

You need a place to store and prioritize your tasks. Don’t use your inbox as a to-do list. If you do, you will always be reacting to the work other people want you to do instead of what you have planned to do. Use a task list and your calendar to schedule the work you choose to do.

5. Work with your energy

Some of us are night owls, while others are early birds. Know which one you are and work with your energy and focus. Plan the difficult work for the times when you have the most energy. The post-lunch slump is never a good time for brainstorming important projects. Most people are more alert and focused in the morning.

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6. Get enough sleep

Sleep is vital for focus and productivity. If you want to work smarter, make sure you are getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep affects the neurons in the brain and makes Jack a dull boy!

7. Get plenty of exercise

Branson’s number one productivity tip is exercise, so make it your first priority. Exercise creates energy and focus. It reduces stress and increases well-being. Try to get some exercise daily — not only will you work smarter, you will feel great too.

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8. Drink water during the day

Because our bodies are said to be made of 70% water, being low on water will affect every cell in your body. If you want to work smarter, you better be sure the cells in your brain have enough water. Dehydration will drain your energy and affect your brain’s ability to focus.

9. Don’t skip meals

Lack of energy and low blood sugar are two states you want to avoid if you are trying to focus and get things done. Regular meals throughout the day will reduce the possibility of an afternoon or midday slump, or a slump at any time of the day. Eat a substantial breakfast and try not to eat too large a meal in the middle of the day. This will maintain your energy levels throughout the day and keep your brain on high alert.

Try any of these ways to work smarter and you will get a lot more work done while feeling more focused, energetic, and maybe even happier, too.

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Ciara Conlon

Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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Last Updated on September 22, 2020

How to Wake Up Early: 6 Things Early Risers Do

How to Wake Up Early: 6 Things Early Risers Do

You have probably heard the success stories about people who wake up early. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Oprah Winfrey, and Olympic medalist Caroline Burckle all talk about the positive impact of waking up early on their lives.

Even though many assign a portion of their success to waking up early, many find it difficult to make the switch. While most people know what needs to happen to change their life, they find then difficult to implement consistently. To understand how to wake up early, you need to tap into the wisdom of those already doing it.

Here are the 6 things early risers do:

1. Stop Procrastinating

The first thing you need to do when you want to learn how to wake up early is to go to sleep earlier. Stop procrastinating. You will find it much easier to wake up when you are getting the proper amount of sleep. Set a bedtime that allows you to get 8-hours of sleep and hold yourself accountable.

The problem most of you will have at first is how tired you will feel. If you are someone who goes to sleep after midnight, waking up by 6 a.m. will not be easy. The reason you need to push through that initial difficulty is that you are going to be very tired at the end of the day. Realistically, you probably would fall asleep at your desk or doze off on your lunch break. Either way, waking up early no matter how you feel will motivate you to go sleep at the proper time that night.

Think of it as someone who procrastinated until the night before their project was due. Having done this myself, you do what you need to do to complete the project, whether that means working all night or cutting some corners because you don’t have time to triple-check your work.

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After you turn in your project, you feel both exhaustion and jubilation. After you make it through the workday and crash at home, you promise yourself you’ll never wait until the last minute again. This same feeling will happen when you force yourself to wake up early no matter what time you went to sleep. You are going to promise yourself you will go to bed at the right time.

Most people don’t go to bed when they should because they know they will ultimately make it up in the morning.

2. Pace Yourself

If you want to start waking up a couple of hours earlier each day, you may not be able to make that change all at once. It stands to reason the more drastic the shift, the more difficult it will be.

So, instead of trying to adjust your sleep pattern by several hours, start in 15-minute or 30-minute intervals.[1] If you wake up 30 minutes earlier each week, you will be a morning person by the end of the month. This may feel like you are drawing out your goal but in reality, you are accomplishing it much quicker than most. Most people who are naturally night owls find it difficult to completely change their sleep habits overnight.

Think of it as someone who is trying to quit drinking coffee. Outside of the fact you may enjoy the taste of coffee, your body is used to operating with a certain amount of caffeine and sugar. Some will be able to quit overnight and their body will adjust accordingly. And if you are one of those people, then do what works for you.

However, if you were to take an incremental approach, then you may first start drinking your coffee black. Then, you could switch to decaf before slowly lowering the amount of coffee you drink each day. As you can see, this approach will help minimize the feeling of withdrawal while getting the results you want.

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3. Watch Your Lighting

Light reduces your body’s production of the sleep-inducing melatonin hormone. In practical terms, your body naturally wants to be awake when the sun is up and go to sleep when the sun is down. This is called your circadian rhythm.

In the technology-driven world we currently live in, you likely look at a screen or two before bed. Studies show television and phone screens trick your body into thinking the sun is up. As a result, your body starts producing less melatonin. To help you fall asleep, you should stop looking at screens at least an hour before bed.

This can also mean that if you want to wake up before the sun, looking at your screen when you wake up can help you to stay awake.

Peter Balyta, the President of Education Technology for Texas Instruments says he wakes up at 5:20 a.m. and scans his emails before starting his day. This is also true for M.I.T. president L. Rafael Rief. He wakes up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. and checks his phone for anything urgent.[2]

4. Make It Worth Your Time

Have you ever woken up early but went back to sleep because you didn’t have a reason to stay up? To put it another way, have you ever fallen asleep because you didn’t have anything better to do?

If you want to be excited about going to sleep and waking up early, then you need to give yourself a reason to be excited. You can accomplish this by listing the three things you want to accomplish the next morning. Notice I said “want” and not “need” to accomplish. You don’t want to be dragging yourself into the next morning kicking and screaming.

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Your list should not only include what you want to accomplish but also why you want to accomplish it. If you want to take it a step further, list the consequences of not waking up early.

People who have figured out how to wake up early are shown to be more successful, persistent, and proactive in their life. They tend to be happier and handle stress better. It is also shown that people who wake up early procrastinate less.[3] If you find any of these benefits something you want to add in your life, then waking up early is shown to help.

5. Avoid Binging

There is a difference between sleeping and getting a good night’s sleep. Sure, you can drink alcohol and fall asleep, but you will not be getting quality rest. You will wake up feeling as though you slept for only a couple hours.

It is best to stop drinking at least 4 hours before bedtime. Binge drinking is known to impact your sleep-inducing melatonin hormone levels for up to a week. The same holds true with eating a large meal right before bed. It is not that your body can’t process food and sleep at the same time. The main concern has more to do with the possibility of indigestion or heartburn than anything else.

If you find yourself dealing with either of these symptoms, then you may want to stop eating at least two hours before bed.

6. Get the Blood Flowing

Those who have mastered the technique of how to wake up early tend to start each morning with movement.

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Your first movement is to get out of bed. To help you get out of bed, have your alarm far enough away that you need to get up and turn it off. Before you allow yourself to contemplate going back to sleep, take a moment, and do 10 push-ups or 10 jumping jacks. Think of each exercise as you taking one step further from being able to go back to sleep.

Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments wakes up at 4 a.m. each morning. She starts each day by exercising. Her exercises include running, weight lifting, swimming, and cycling.

You decide for yourself how you want to get your blood flowing. Whether you want to go on a walk, workout at the gym, or do something at home, make sure you are scheduling time to exercise.

Final Thoughts

The key to understanding how to wake up early is to recognize that it is heavily driven by the actions you take the night before. You will wake up early if you go to bed at a good time and get the proper amount of sleep.

By taking the time to prepare yourself both mentally and physically each night, you can ensure you are positioned for success the next morning. Once you have taken the proper actions the night before, make sure you use that momentum to start your day, on time.

The goal is to make the actions you want to take as easy as possible. The key to changing your life is to discover a way to have the wind at your back, going in the direction you want.

More Tips on How to Wake up Early

Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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