Often we think that working harder is the best way to achieve our goals most efficiently. Strangely enough, that does not always seem to work out as planned! We have identified 4 simple lifestyle changes to help you work smarter not harder.
We keep on learning new tools to increase our productivity. This includes creating endless lists of things to do, multi-tasking, strategizing etc. But oddly enough we can find that even with these strategies, the end result seems to be moving further away!
The key problem is that the harder we work, the harder work becomes, on and on in a downward spiral.
It’s time to re-think our approach to work and explore ways to uncover ways to work smarter, not harder. When we work hard, we ignore our own needs for space, relaxation, stimulation and joy to make our lives worthwhile living. The more we focus on satisfying these intrinsic needs first, the easier it becomes to do our work – whatever this may be.
Lets look at some of these factors further.
1 Engage In Creative Hobbies
Creative hobbies include any activities that involve a level of creativity. Think painting, doodling, making music, creative writing, woodworking, gardening, spending time with family, enjoying nature, visiting art galleries, and so on. Most of us have experienced the feeling of satisfaction these activities create. Amazingly, the creativity we unleash also stimulates our creative problem solving ability at work. This, in turn, can make our work a lot more efficient!
2 Create Meaningful Goals
Not everybody has the good fortune to work in an environment that is totally aligned with our interests and passions. For many, when it comes down to it, work is the job we do to bring bread on the table and pay the bills.
If this is the case, a positive attitude around work is more difficult and work seems harder. However, even if you are in this situation, you can work around it. Try setting positive goals and creating positive rewards. These could be either within the or outside of the working environment.
Plan your working day so that you get little personal rewards during the day. For example, a cup of coffee with a mate, a short walk to a local park, listening to your favorite music or simply some stretching exercises in the chair.
Create work tasks that have inherent meaning to you personally. Also, see whether you can delegate or outsource tasks that are especially boring or uninteresting.
If you find that this is difficult to do within your working environment, you can create goals outside of your work. Make sure this is aligned with a personal interest – a Yoga class, meeting friends or doing hobbies. Focus on this during your working day. It will make you work harder and faster without too much effort and help you leaving work on time
The more personal interest you can create during a working day, the easier it will become to work efficiently.
3. Get Your Work-Life Balance Right
Often our lives and energy seem to be taken up just by work. We are our own worst enemies – staying back at work, taking work home, taking on tasks that are really not in our job description.
However, by getting the work-life balance wrong, we can experience a major dip in productivity and also well-being over time. Make it a habit – be courageous – to get your work done during the day. Get away from work on time. You have a life to live outside of work!
Research has found a direct link between work-home conflict and burn-out. This can creep up on us over time so the earlier we get the balance right, the better for us.
Be pro-active in setting a positive work-life balance for you, whatever this may be, including the creative hobbies and interesting personal goals discussed above.
4. Practice Gratitude
Amy Morin, psychotherapist, keynote speaker and author says:
“When you’re so busy that you don’t feel like you have time to think about anything other than work, take time to practice gratitude. Acknowledging all that you have to be thankful for and express thanks to your employees, supervisors, and business associates alike.
Research shows that gratitude increases resilience to stress, reduces physical health issues, and produces an overall increased satisfaction with life—all things that can certainly help boost your workplace performance….
There’s a Zen proverb that says, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day – unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” In today’s fast-paced world, it’s hard to find time for healthy habits. But, slowing down can actually speed up your productivity. Minor lifestyle changes can go a long way to helping you work smarter and not harder.”
How Yoga Fits Into This Picture
In picking up on the need to create space and slowing down to lead a more productive and satisfying life, don’t forget the role Yoga can play.
Our article on Yoga, curiosity and happiness discusses this in greater detail: how Yoga can guide you towards greater happiness.