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Work Smarter

Friday, July 04, 2014


Bill Gates once said:

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

What is the difference - 

Hard work – always busy, working late to get the job done, no breaks to clear your mind, taking on more work than you can handle, overwhelmed with work load.

Smart work – setting time boundaries, saying no, organising your day, clean work space, documents filed, taking breaks to freshen your thoughts, good time  management, completing tasks


1. Create a to do list.  This should be created at the end of the day for the next day.  Write the five most pressing/urgent items to be dealt with and those items should be dealt with first the next day before anything else is added to your list.  Then do each one singly and tick it off as it is done.  If it is not done/completed, then write a very brief note of what needs to be done to complete, staple to relevant documentation and put in to do tray/folder. 

  2.   Read.  Spend ten minutes in the morning reading any articles / magazines etc of interest that is work relevant.   Note the words WORK RELEVANT.   When you have finished either put them in the paper collection bin or file them.  Make sure they are worth filing – are you just hanging on to them for the sake of it?  Will you really pick them up again to re-read.

3.  Working on your emails.  Either do them first thing in the morning or in the afternoon but not ALL day.  Every email you open should be dealt with immediately.  If it cannot be dealt with immediately because research needs to be done or whatever, then flag it And put it on your to do list.  When you have finished with the email delete it (it can be retrieved from the delete folder) or file it – preferably in documents file (save as a text though).  Any email in your inbox or files over two years old should be archived/deleted.  Consider how often you have referred back to it.  HONESTLY? 

4.  Do you need to be c.c.’d on every email that is sent in your office?  Isn’t that what a weekly meeting/report is for?  To inform people but letting people get on with their job.  If you had to read every email that is sent in your work environment all you would be doing is reading.  CC’s should only be sent to those involved in a discussion currently.  If you are not making decisions in these discussions you do not need to be involved.  The report will keep you informed.  Staff are employed to do the job they were employed for.  Do not micromanage. They need to have the authority to make decisions without you.  Unless of course it is going to cost you major $’s.

5.  Keep a rack file on or near your desk and put in each section a clear plastic sleeve with each project you are working on.  Every time you work on a project and come to a stop write a summary of what you have done and why you needed to stop – e.g. Email sent to Joe Blogs re ? now waiting on email response.  And date it.  Write down when you expect a response. That is your reminder of what went on and what needs to be done to carry forward.  Make a calendar date /task whichever you prefer of when you would expect a response by.  That will pop up like a meeting reminder on that date you expected to have heard by and then follow up – say you have not responded to my email of…… re ….  Follow up. Once you have dealt with the project totally then file it.  Use the plastic sleeve for the next project.

6.  Say No. Do not take on too many projects at once.  Say “I’m sorry but I cannot do this right now.  However, I can do this on such and such a date/time.  Book it in for then.  Remember saying NO will not lose you your credibility if you book in a time to come back to them.  The customer will not feel forgotten.  But do come back to them when you arranged – not a day later. 

7.  Have a break.  YES!  In order to think smarter and more clearly you need to have a break from business.  Take a walk, get some fresh air or go to the lunch room.  Whatever you want to do for that break TAKE IT 

8.  Do not have a cluttered desk!  Tie all wires together and out of the way.  Put all your filing away in the files NOW.  Do not clutter your work desk with lots of personal items.  One photo one nick knack.  That’s it.  You have a home for the rest.  Keep close to hand items you use regularly – stapler, paper clips, and pens.  I will let you have a box of tissues on your desk though.

9.  When you have finished for the day file away all documentation that will not be required for the next day.  Seriously – do you need to clutter your desk? Then do Item 1 above.  Ensure that everything you need for meetings the next day are filed in the relevant clear plastic folder(s) in the rack file for easy access.  

10. At the end of your work day WALK AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER.  You may not use it for work after the time you have set for your day to end – the WORLD WILL NOT END if you do not look at your emails.

11.  Finally – de stress.  Can you tell me what it was you were so very stressed about twelve months ago?  Put the stress in its place – not on you.  Remember everything can be resolved one way or another and if you can do something about it then do it but if not then get that other person to deal with it.

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