We have five core values our team lives by, and one of those is “Work Smarter, Not Harder.” Ironically, this was originally “We Work Harder Than the Rest.” We realized we were asking staff to basically run themselves into the ground instead of finding ways to complete tasks in easier and smarter ways.
Working harder isn’t smarter. Why run yourself ragged when you can be productive and happy by changing how you work and manage your life in and out of the office?
Here are just a few ways you can work smarter, not harder. These lifestyle changes will give you the energy to really crush it.
Go to bed earlier. We’re not talking at 7:30 p.m., but if you can—do it. Don’t stay up till Midnight perusing social media or drinking that bottle of wine (save it for the weekend). You’ll wake up refreshed and ready to kick the day’s ass, and maybe, just maybe, you can jump on the Peloton you’ve been using as a coat rack for the past year.
Knowing what the week holds before Monday morning is going to do wonders for your mental health. Take an hour or two on Sunday, pull out your planner and determine the major tasks you need to accomplish and when you’ll have time to do them. If you know your mornings are going to be hectic due to meetings, block out time in the afternoon to work uninterrupted.
Stop responding to emails the second you receive them. It ruins your productivity. No one, not even Karen, expects a response from you in .001 seconds. Plan out when you will check your emails. If there is a true emergency, a client will call or text.
Do the same for chat. With a hybrid workforce, many companies have turned to Slack, Microsoft Teams and GChat for cross-company communication. You can set any of these for uninterrupted time. 8THIRTYFOUR has a rule, no chats before 10:00 a.m. This gives each team member time to plan their day, set priorities and answer emails as needed.
A lot of us are back-in-the-office, but that doesn’t mean you should be chained to your desk. No one can be productive staring at a computer screen for 8 hours straight without a break. Go out for lunch or take a walk during that time. Sit in the common area with your team members and just chat about things; avoid work topics.
It’s hard to set aside time in your job to improve on certain skills, but it is so important. Companies need to invest back into their employees, show them they care about their professional development. 8THIRTYFOUR invests in LinkedIn Learning, and employees are asked to complete three classes a quarter and then report back to the rest of the team during our Friday meetings. You might think this adds another thing to their plate, but it is considered part of their job to enhance skills and learn new things. No one wants to feel stagnant in a job. Feeling unmotivated hurts everyone’s productivity.
Our biggest takeaway? Invest in you, whether that results in naps, walks or uninterrupted mornings. It isn’t just your employer’s job to ensure you are happy and fulfilled.