One of the most important things we can do to help improve the performance of a company, is to help people work smarter. If you search for “work smart”, Google will return 543 million hits. There’s clearly no lack in information about how to work smart, the challenge is to find the stuff that really works. To save you the hassle of browsing all 543 million websites, here’s a quick summary;

Ask yourself if you are doing the right thing

Let’s face it. If you don’t like what you do, you are never going to be any good at it. The speech former Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave to a graduation class at Stanford summarize this pretty good;

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

It is no use doing the things right if your not doing the right thing.

Set specific goals for the day

According to Richard Branson, he would never had been able to take Virgin to where they are today without setting specific goals. Richard Branson always made lists of what to do each day, and he didn’t finish work until everything was checked out.

I have always lived my life by making lists: Lists of people to call, lists of ideas, lists of companies to set up, lists of people who can make things happen. Each day I work through these lists, and it is that sequence of calls that propels me forward. – Richard Branson

Learn to say NO

You will never be able to get things done, if you constantly are being interrupted by other people and other priorities. Saying YES to something always means saying NO to something else. If you need 2 hours to prepare for that very important meeting, you can’t answer the phone or “just” take 5 minutes to look at “a couple of good ideas” at the same time. Learning to say NO is about learning to communicate your priorities to the people around you. If you have made the right priorities, everyone will understand why you can’t do that specific task right now.

Eat a live frog in the morning

Do the big, shoulder-sagging stuff first. Mark Twain said that, if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, you’ve got it behind you for the rest of the day, and nothing else looks so bad. “Choose your frog”, and set a reminder that you’ll see when you arrive back at your desk in the morning. Get that one thing done before you wade into email, meetings etc. One benefit to tackling that terrible, weighty thing you don’t want to do first thing in the morning is that the rest of the day feels less complex, and you can get more done.

Use the right equipment

Most people are not aware of the vast opportunities that smart technology solutions can give them. You might be using the right equipment, but are you using the equipment right?  What separates good from the great, is often how you utilize smart technology. With so many tech tools and business apps on the market the biggest challenge is to find the right technology and making it work for you. Here’s the top 25 list of smart business apps. How many apps are you currently using?

Put first things first

One of the most popular self improvement books of all time; “The seven habits of highly effective people” by Stephen R. Covey states that in order to be efficient you need to put first things first. This means prioritize, plan, and execute your daily tasks based on importance rather than urgency. If you set specific goals for what you want to accomplish, you need to make sure that you prioritize the tasks that will help you achieve these goals.

Quality not quantity

Work smarter, not harder. Try to limit the number of work hours and take vacation time. If you ask a top athlete about the most important priorities in order to perform on a high level, they will highlight the importance of “getting enough sleep and time for restitution”. The same goes for performing in business. In order to make the right decisions, your mind needs rest and time for recovery. You need to find a work style that propels you in the right direction at a pace that you can live with.

That’s all there is to it.

Lighthouse8, Business Engineering