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How To Work Faster And Smarter

How To Work Faster And Smarter

As the old saying goes, “work smarter, not harder.” But what does that really mean? When there are deadlines looming, bosses looking over your shoulder, and clients ready to launch, how do you stay focused, and get everything done efficiently? How do you produce effective results, even when you’re under the gun?

Sometimes we know what to do, but we get distracted, or over-commit, only adding more onto our already full to-do lists. Everything soon feels like a priority, and it is unclear where to start and when to take a break. Going at that rate, burnout, sickness, and exhaustion occur, and then we are useless and can’t get anything done.

It will take will power, fortitude, and laser sharp focus to work more efficiently, but avoiding time-wasters can leave you with more time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. These 10 things will help you to work faster AND smarter:

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1. Structure

Planning, using productivity tools, and scheduling tasks on your calendar can help. Set yourself up to win by breaking tasks down into manageable chunks, so you can know what is most important to do first, and still have time to take care of yourself, such as eating well, exercising, relaxing, etc. Without self-care, you lose efficiency due to being overworked.

2. Don’t multi-task

There is an illusion that doing many things at once is productive. Instead, it leaves you half-focused, and constantly switching gears. You may have a sense that nothing ever really gets complete this way. Set a timer, and work in 90-minute increments. Focus on that one task either for 90 minutes, or until it is complete. Then, take a break, and move on.

3. Urgent doesn’t necessarily mean important

What someone else thinks is urgent can create a sense of people-pleasing induced panic. If you know it is not important, then prioritize, and do what is most important first instead. You know best how to set your priorities and get your work done. So listen to yourself.

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4. Turn it off

Power down those phones, turn off notifications. Set up an autoresponder if you need to, but disconnect in order to avoid distractions. You will get more done, if you focus only at the task at hand and answer to all missd calls and notifications once you’re done.

5. Take breaks

Get up. Move around. Shake it out. Eyestrain and headaches can happen if you look at a computer screen for too long. Get outside for a quick stroll and come back feeling refreshed and energized.

6. Closed door policy

Hunker down and hibernate. People popping in and out of your office creates stops and starts in your productivity and you have to keep starting over again each time. Create true office hours and stick to them.

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7. The eye is on the prize

Keep the end in mind – the big picture. Focus on how great it will feel to accomplish the task. You are on your way if you are taking action. Staying focused on the end result can remind you of the big picture, so that unimportant pieces, or your perfectionism, can’t stop you from getting it done.

8. Celebrate the little victories

Projects take many steps until completion. Break down your project into these steps, and then do a little happy dance each time you complete a step. Rather than beating yourself up for what you haven’t done yet, taking time to pat yourself on the back as you go along, can give you the confidence to see it through to the end.

9. Say “no”

Don’t over-commit: When you are already on a tight deadline, don’t take on anything else. Put a moratorium on saying “yes,” to anything new until you complete this project. Don’t leave people hanging, but say you will contact them when you are finished. Stepping outside of the task at hand has you lose focus, and makes you feel overwhelmed and scattered.

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10. Stop saying “I’m so busy”

It is complaining, and complaining only makes you  – and everyone around you – feel worse. Instead of saying “I’m so busy”, say “I have already come so much closer to my goal”. This will encourage you to keep going.

Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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Bridget Baker

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

6 Ways To Make Progress (And Realize All Goals)

6 Ways To Make Progress (And Realize All Goals)

Are you at a critical stage in your life, and it seems you are not making headway as far as your life goals are concerned? Does it feel like you are complacent, and you are struggling to accomplish your set goals? You can make progress by establishing and diligently working towards those goals that align with your life mission.

A lot of dreams are not terminated because the dreamers gave up; they died due to a long period of inactivity. This is the more reason you need to develop a progress mindset while you pursue those relevant and meaningful goals.

A progress mindset will enable you to work on any disability or inadequacy that can truncate the realization of your goals. With such a mindset, you are constantly evaluating yourself, improving your skills, and seeking ways to learn and grow through life.

Why Is It Essential to Develop a Progress Mindset?

Your mindset encompasses your beliefs-how you perceive your talents, skills, knowledge, personality. Your belief system eventually influences your viewpoints about goals and success. A fixed mindset can hinder your progress, while a progressive mindset will enable you to achieve sound health, happiness, good relationships, and peace.

6 Ways to Make Progress and Realize Your Goals

Here are 6 practical ways that you can make progress and realize all your goals.

1. Figure Out Your WHYs—Reasons

Nothing is static! You are either making progress or retrogressing. However, no one desires to retrogress, and that’s why you are here. You need to establish why you want to move forward.

  • Career: Why do I want to be fulfilled in my career?
  • Marriage: Why do I want a happy home and lovely children?
  • Health: Why do I want to be physically and mentally sound?
  • Finance: Why do I want to be out of debt?
  • Academics: Why do I want to ace my grades?
  • Relationship: Why do I want to communicate better?
  • Personal: Why do I want to be a better person?

For every aspect of your life, establish the reasons for changing levels.

Someone once said,

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“When your why is strong and convincing, the how will emerge.”

Establishing your reasons will help you to be an active player in decisions that affect your life. You will also be able to establish if your motivation to progress is intrinsic or extrinsic.

2. Establish Your What—Tangible Goals

Once you have established your reasons, the next step is to establish your life goals. Develop your aims for short-term, mid-term, as well as long-term. This process will enable you to track your progress and implement changes that improve your progress.

Keep your goals SMART: Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. For instance, I want to improve my typing speed by 150 wpm within the next three months. I will spend two hours daily practicing on Mavis Beacon. I wrote in detail on how to set SMART goals that you will accomplish.

Write your goals on paper: Sticking your goals on your wall or notepad will offer you a visual cue that can reinforce your goals.

Update your goals as required: Review your goals at intervals to ensure you can still achieve them.

3. Create Your How—Game Plan

It is not enough to know what you want from life; you need to design a roadmap to get to your destination.

Here’s what you can do:

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Break your smart goals into habits: Begin by highlight the good habits you need to cultivate and the bad habits you need to eliminate. Here’s how to break bad habits that can truncate your progress.

Master one habit at a time: Once you figure out the good habits to have in your life, then ensure you practice them daily. Scientists revealed that you would need 18 to 254 days to develop new habits and that a new habit will only become permanent after 66 days of practicing it.[1]

Once you have gained mastery over a habit, add more routines that will enable you to make progress in the direction of your goals.

4. Imbibe Positivity

A positive outlook means you are always optimistic about yourself, interactions, and events. It also means your ability to expect favorable outcomes when working towards your life goals.

Positivity is a mental posture that sees accomplishments and opportunities instead of failures and defeat. It will keep you hopeful when you are facing daunting challenges.

A study on positive thinking conducted by researchers at the King’s College in London and published in the Journal of Behavior Research and Therapy revealed that visualizing positive images can reduce worry and anxiety.[2]

How do you maintain a positive outlook on life?

  • Look out for the best in every circumstance. This will enable you to be more progress-minded.
  • Use positive affirmations. For instance, when you wake up, say, “I will work hard to complete all my milestones today.”
  • Associate with positive people that will support your progress. You need positive energy to make consistently make progress in the direction of your goals.
  • Change your perspectives about failures and setbacks. See them as significant components of making progress.

5. Practice Reflection as You Progress

A lot of things will occur once you are determined to advance. You will learn new lessons and implement changes. You will form new habits and eliminate bad ones.

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It is reasonable to take time out and evaluate what worked and what did not. Ask yourself how you can improve and surmount new obstacles. You can log your answers in a diary or use a virtual journal to track your thoughts.

Scientists have proved the significance of reflective practice on your productivity. A group of students at the Harvard Business School found out that call center agents who reflected for 15 minutes on what they’ve learned outperformed their colleagues by 23% who attempted the test without revealing.[3]

Self-reflection will enable you to keep your goals in mind constantly.

How do you make this happen?

  • Set up a weekly appointment with yourself: It sounds funny, but it works. During this period, define your goals and reflect on them. It will also help you to verify if your goals are still achievable.
  • Ask reflective questions: Did I achieve all I planned? What salient lesson can I pick this week? What new things did I learn and what actions do I need to make progress.

6. Celebrate Your Achievements

It is highly crucial to acknowledge every milestone you complete as you make progress in life. Celebrating your achievements will build your confidence and provide you the motivation you require to continue.

One of the best ways to do this is by pampering yourself with rewards when you achieve a goal. These rewards could be things you enjoy, such as a special meal, a music collection, or a mini-vacation. These little rewards will continuously remind you of victory anytime you feel like giving up. Merely looking at your mini-vacation pictures will motivate you to keep working towards your next goals.

Bill Carmody wrote in a report by Inc that celebrating your achievements will enable you to build on existing momentum and will allow you to attract more successes.[4]

Bonus Tips

Here are other things that you can do to help you make progress toward your goals.

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Invest in Self-Improvement

Self-development enhances your self-worth and self-confidence. You can improve yourself by listening to podcasts or audiobooks on any subject of interest. You can also attend webinars, seminars, or workshops to enhance your skills and broaden your knowledge.

Keep Moving

Every success comes with obstacles. Not giving up on your goals despite setbacks will help you achieve anything you desire. For instance, if you write a book and don’t make a single sale, write another one.

Don’t allow anything to discourage you from making progress. In case you missed a deadline, train yourself to meet the next one. A positive attitude will enable you to stay on course and infuse you with confidence.

Final Words

Goals offer you a sense of mission. When accomplished, it gives you a sense of fulfillment. When you make progress relentlessly in the direction of your goals, you build up the confidence to overcome obstacles, and every setback becomes a stepping stone to achieve your next target.

Apply these six practical steps to make progress and achieve every goal you have set.

More Tips on How to Make Progress Toward Your Goals

Featured photo credit: Khiet Tam via unsplash.com

Reference

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