There is no substitute for hard work. Hard work alone however doesn’t necessarily equate to success. Success requires working harder AND working smarter.
To paraphrase an old quote, “productivity is not enough, just look at the ants.” In other words, you want to focus on “doing the right things right.” This means to be both effective and efficient. You can work extremely hard and also be very efficient, but if not efficient on the right and effective things, it won’t lead to substantial progress in the areas where it really counts.
So, what’s the secret? First you want to know what you working towards. This requires having a clear and focused professional vision. This vision has to be clear and simple so there is no misunderstanding. You don’t want to spend resources and energy on things that don’t align with your professional vision.
Here are some other ways that you can “work SMART” to help maximize both your effectiveness and efficiency.
Become More Sustainable
As a business, employing efforts to ensure that recycling most of your staff waste is essential, as well as implementing potential means of renewable energies to fuel your business. From solar panels feeding directly into the best Fronius inverter to biomass fuel used within wooden briquettes, it could be that powering your manufacturing line or equipment, or your simple office lighting becomes much more economically friendly. Over time, you will actually save money on this approach also, vastly outweighing the surface benefits any false PR approach might have taken.
Innovate To Solve Problems
As a business, you have two choices: offer s useful product or solve a pain point. It is more important to solve problems. The top brands manufactured their own value propositions by solving problems. They are creative problem solvers. For example, consider Uber’s new carpooling feature, a means for people to share rides, lower costs, and fewer Uber rides to be taken at once.
As a business, employing efforts to ensure that recycling most of your staff waste is essential, as well as implementing potential means of renewable energies to fuel your business. From solar panels feeding directly into the best fronius inverter to biomass fuel used within wooden briquettes, it could be that powering your manufacturing line or equipment, or your simple office lighting becomes much more economically friendly. Over time, you will actually save money on this approach also, vastly outweighing the surface benefits any false PR approach might have taken.
Hiring Virtual Assistants
Tim Ferriss, one of the pioneers of the modern “work smart” movement – introduced many productivity and “live hacking” concepts in his hit book “The 4-Hour Work Week.”
Ferris places a major emphasis on strategies for generating “passive income.” Instead of the typical work than retire life, he advocates living a life of “semi-retirement” by enjoying life now, rather than at some vaguely-defined point in the distant future.
Ferriss advocates the use of and benefits of using virtual assistant services. He has essentially outsourced many his tasks, everything from planning his vacations, to compiling complex presentation documents.
Virtual assistants are, in essence, part-time workers who you can hire remotely. They can handle various administrative tasks personally or for your business that might be time-consuming. The premise is that the most valuable resource is time and the best use of your time is to focus on only things you can do.
Leveraging today’s technology, you can find many different types of virtual assistants, ranging from general-purpose virtual “secretaries,” to virtual receptionists, and more. You can also hire companies that will have a set of skillsets in a variety of fields. When it comes to making things easier to manage, you’ll want to ensure that you start delegating with people that can really help you. And these days, there are so many options with virtual assistants online, that you don’t have to bring someone in-house.
Using a virtual assistant who is already trained can save you time and also save overhead costs. A major part of “working smart” is freeing up some of your mental and physical energy, and more importantly your time.
Using the attorney example, if you as a lawyer charge $300 an hour for your time, you don’t want to waste any time doing work that you can outsource to a virtual assistant for $25 dollars an hour. Let’s say you work 8-hours a day, 4-hours doing attorney work, and the other 4-hours doing admin work.
Outsourcing your admin work would cost you $100 ($25 x 4 hours). You can use that extra time to do more work at your $300 hourly rate. You can work just 5-hours a day and even though you are paying a virtual assistant, you would still make more money than doing everything yourself! Let’s look at the math:
- Scenario 1 (no outsourcing) = 4 hours x $300 = $1,200
- Scenario 2 (outsourcing admin work and work one extra hour at your rate) = $300 x 5 hours = $1,500 – $100 virtual assistant costs = $1,400
So in this example you are working 3 less hours a day and making $200 more! Even though you may not be in a situation to make $300 an hour, if you can outsource tasks at a lower cost than what you can earn in that hour, then it makes sense to use someone like a virtual assistant!
In today’s economy, many software programs can save you from having to hire an employee or a consultant. Technology can help you streamline your operations, help you avoid mistakes, and help you focus on the high impact tasks.
Have lots of customers? It can be difficult to keep track of all of them. There are not customer relationship management tools, like netsuite crm software, to help you keep track of them, accelerate your sales with live quotes, email integrations, and get a 360-view of your customers.
Turn Off Your Phone!
Cal Newport is a writer and academic who has written an impressive portfolio of productivity-boosting books and blog posts over the last decade or so.
His most recent book, “Digital Minimalism” builds on some powerful observations from his earlier book, “Deep Work.” According to Newport, working “smart” essentially comes down to eliminating as many distractions as you can from your professional life.
He states that during certain periods of the workday “dumbing down” your smart devices so you can better enter a hyper-productive state of “flow” and laser-like focus. You don’t want to multi-task, but focus on completing one task at a time.
Newport cites research that suggests that checking your phone casually for a few seconds can ruin your ability to get into that “flow” state for the next 20 minutes.
Find it difficult to “dumb down” your mobile device? Then consider installing apps that monitor your usage, and prevent you from using certain applications that distract you. Some have taken the drastic step of deactivating, or outright deleting their social media profiles to focus on being productive.
Set a Schedule – Put Money on the Line to Enforce Self-Set Deadlines
One of the problems of being self-employed or working remotely is maintaining structure and discipline in your professional life. You don’t have external pressures like a boss, co-workers, or a regular work environment forcing you to “toe the line” and stay on point.
To hold yourself accountable, you can use websites like StickK and Beeminder to act as “accountability-enhancing mechanisms” to help you stick to self-set deadlines. These sites are both highly popular web-based services (with accompanying apps) that work by getting you to put your money on the line.
If you don’t meet the deadline, your money will be donated to charity or other organizations. StickK tends to focus more specifically on achieving particular results by specific dates, whereas Beeminder is more about maintaining consistent habits on a day-to-day basis. Studies show that when money is on the line, you are more likely to hold yourself accountable.