Whatever your plans in life, be they humble or ambitious, it is (or should be) a given that you are going to have to work hard to achieve them. But as most successful people know, hard work alone will not cut the proverbial mustard if you allow distractions, poor planning or misdirected energies to blur your focus and force you to put in more work than is necessary to accomplish your objectives. Working hard is a necessity for success, of course, but working efficiently is every bit as critical. I tried to avoid procrastination the best way I can. I’m constantly trying to find ways that can help me to optimize the time I spend working on different projects. I drive about 500+ miles per week. That means that I spend about 9+ hrs. driving every week. However, I’m still able to get things done in time. Here are some guidelines for getting maximum results from your valuable work time.
Stay on Schedule
Get your act for the day together before you dive in. You know what you need to accomplish, but don’t rely on a mental picture to plan your itinerary if you are good at following through that way. Every day harbors the capacity for unexpected tasks and events, and any one of those can take you off course—leaving tasks undone and forcing you to scramble to make up time, or put them off until the next day. Either way, you are wasting time and efforts. Take a moment or two at the start of the day to write up a schedule of what you need to do, and check off each task as you complete it. Then, even if you are interrupted, you can refer back to the schedule and get back to where you left off.
Keep Your Priorities in Order
Now that you have a list of what you need to accomplish during your day, arrange the tasks in order of importance and/or timeliness. Is someone expecting that report today? Get on it, then, or at least get it started. Even if you are less than enthusiastic about a particular task, dreading it is more dispiriting than diving into it, and many such projects have a way of coming to life once you begin; getting easier and more rewarding as you go along.
If it is still a strain, or is a real time consumer, you might consider breaking it up into blocks that you can work on at intervals during the day as you complete your other high-priority projects. Choose the right tools for the right job—they will increase your efficiency and kick start your creativity; new online applications are created every day to make your life easier.
Keep Your Working Tools in Working Condition
There is no more frustrating impediment to working efficiently than unreliable or insufficient tools. If you have ever worked on a computer that decided to delete an important document for no discernible reason, or shut down during a critical lecture or meeting, you know what I mean. As an Internet marketing consultant, it is very important that I have the my PCs and laptops performing at the same pace that my mind works. It is also very important for me to have the right Internet connection at my office, mobile office and at home. I really don’t like to wait a lot for time for documents or other files to download. I also don’t like to wait a lot of time for my software to run.
The best way to deal with such unnecessary roadblocks is to avoid them. Check your arsenal for each day the night before. If you use a laptop or notebook, make sure it is fully charged; check your Internet access; keep the necessary software together with your other equipment; and, if possible, keep a backup computer at the ready. You never know when problems will strike, so think ahead and always have a backup plan.
Give Yourself a Break
The human brain can only take so much focused concentration before it starts overloading. You may feel you need to keep working when mental exhaustion starts kicking in, but you may actually do more harm than good to push yourself past your limits. A tired brain is a forgetful and inefficient brain, and you will very likely find yourself losing the ability to focus, making careless errors and weakening your incentive to excel.
So admit that you don’t have super powers—take regular breaks from work to refresh and recharge. Do exercise, spend quality time with your family, grab a bite to eat, read a magazine; talk to a friend; do something undemanding and enjoyable for a while before getting back to the tasks at hand. You might be surprised at the recuperative and rejuvenating power of even a short mental break, and the way it will benefit not only your work, but your state of mind.
The main idea here is that working efficiently does not mean working non-stop from dawn ‘til dusk, but working in a manner that keeps you interested, refreshed and productive—in other words, at the top of your game. You will soon find yourself achieving better results in less time, with less strain. And what could be more efficient than that?
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