Ever been told by your parents if you work hard then everything will fall into place and you will become successful?
If so, bad news for you and it is a load of crap.
Stop Being A Busy Fool – Work Smarter Not Harder
Working smarter is needed because when looking into investing in companies I am finding the same problems over and over again.
This article is going to run through my findings on why so many businesses are struggling online.
The catalyst for nearly every busy fool is they are too cheap.
It is simple maths and if you raise your price and a few clients leave that is fine but you will still make the same profit over the year working less time as a lower quantity of customers to service.
Price is only an issue in the absence of value. If you don’t ask the answer will always be ‘No’
Common wisdom is that if you want to make more money you need to increase the sales. It’s a good theory, but getting more sales can often lead to less profit margin because expenses rise but the majority of businesses do not increase prices through FEAR.
They fear their customers will go somewhere else, somewhere cheaper. They are competing on price and forgetting to add value and give service.
This table astonished me personally because it shows you if you reduced your margins how much extra work you would need to bring in just to get the same amount of gross profit over the year:-
Just take a second look at that again chaps.
Yes, that is right that if you drop your margin for a sale 10% and currently work on 30% profit you would need to make sure this sale brought in 50% more sales just to break back even. You do the maths and understand why pricing is key with working smarter.
Cool to Look Busy?
Ever been asked by friends or family – “How’re Things at Work Going?” And your default reply is “Yes Really Busy Thanks”.
Is it because being busy makes you look hard-working, a grafter, valuable or maybe even cool?
I am not sure, to be honest, but I used to always fall foul of doing it as a default response in my subconscious mind.
“Don’t mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by being busy. The question is: Busy doing what?”
If you find yourself personally saying this as default then reading my article on being busy is a lame response and certainly not cool.
Ways to Work Smarter
I see entrepreneurs and business owners being busy and I often wonder if they are really being effective. You see being busy and being effective in business are not the same.
Here are some ways to combat working smarter but not harder:-
- Get used to delegating your work and having systems in place to give yourself thinking time
- Hire staff smarter than you as you don’t know everything and give specific roles to allow them to head up that sector within the company
- Learn how to find your flow state of mind is super important
- Limit your bright shining object syndrome mindset and try to complete existing tasks before moving on
- Prioritise your important tasks and complete the important tasks before the urgent tasks (therefore you never get an important task to become urgent)
- Learn to say NO. Get rid of your Entrepreneur ADD trying to be a jack of all trades and master of none
- Price is only an issue in the absence of value so raise your prices
- Study the power of upsells and make the most of your existing client base instead of always focusing on new
- Don’t work for money, make money work for you by investing wisely so you can be making money while you sleep
- Improve your time management skills by creating a to-do list and ticking off one task at a time.
It is crazy sometimes to think about declining work. The first couple of times you’ll struggle, always calculating the money you turned down. Find a way to turn that extra time and focus on something more productive.
Productivity always takes a huge hit when carrying out repetitive tasks due to spending time carrying out similar tasks constantly. It can be boring and drains energy levels rather quickly. But, what if there was a way to carry out these tasks whilst maintaining focus?
Research shows that 90% of employees are being given boring and repetitive tasks which could easily be automated. As a business owner, the last thing you want your employees to think is that they’ve wasted time carrying out their tasks.
An efficient way to counter this issue is to add more tasks to the employee’s to-do list. By this, create a variety of different tasks, from easy to challenging tasks. Providing variety stops the employee from losing focus and gives them the feeling of choice with their work.
Not only this but implementing a to-do list with a wide variety of tasks, gives the brain a break from the long run of repetitive tasks. Implementing this technique will help improve productivity as well as time management skills.
As I previously mentioned, research shows that 90% of employees think their repetitive tasks could be automated. Obviously, not all tasks can be automated, but most tasks can be helped through the power of automation.
A great example is content writing. Writers can often get frustrated by writing the same content over and over again. Even though the content writers are working hard, you’ll notice that the time spent on the task will reduce over time as eventually, they’ll become bored and/or too tired.
Implementing software like Surfer SEO can help your content writers out massively. This software provides the employee with a neat to-do list of what they should include in their writing, whilst ticking off certain words and phrases as progress is made through the writing.
This simple change can give content writers more motivation as by the simple inclusion of a to-do list being ticked off, the human brain will start increasing the production of dopamine, leading to an increase in motivation and less stress. In layman’s terms, the task becomes more enjoyable rather than a chore.
Important Task Stress (ITS)
Important Task Stress, or as I like to call it ITS, is a common symptom amongst workers. It occurs when an employee is given a task that has ridiculous deadlines whilst having to multitask on less important projects.
It’s frustrating as a business owner as it’s hard to counter ITS due to how prevalent it is, but what if I was to provide you with a simple solution that has worked for my business ventures?
Read the factors below to understand more about how you can counter ITS and get the most productivity from your employees without the hassle of stress or lack of motivation.
Let’s start with a simple step. Stop giving your employees too much to do when you need your most important tasks carried out. Having too many tasks can cause the feeling of being overwhelmed occurring, and can lead to the person becoming unmotivated and not delivering the important tasks with the quality you want.
Instead, give your employee your most important task first and once they have completed that, then deliver them the other tasks. Energy levels are finite and you can tell when someone’s energy is drained through the quality of their work.
Think about it like this. You start with 100% energy for the day. This energy can be divided between tasks. For example, if you have 4 tasks to do, then each task will get 25% of the energy spent on it. But, the more tasks you give a person, the less energy will be spent on each one.
Giving the most important task focus, your employee will spend the most energy completing it, meaning that the quality of it will be high and meet your expectations. We have implemented this system for a year and have had great success with it!
Right Levels of Rest
Human beings aren’t machines. We can work hard, but at the same time, we need to rest ourselves and give our brains a chance to process information and store it. However, too much rest can cause the brain to shut down and enter a relaxed mindset, completely disrupting workflow.
Finding the perfect balance is important. A great rule of thumb is that for every 20 minutes, have a 5-minute break. Not only does this help your brain, but it also helps your eyes from being damaged from staring at a computer screen for too long.
Having this 5-minute break allows you to take time to digest the information you’ve been given and think about the task without stressing out. At the same time, try encouraging workers to turn of their phone and try to minimize distractions in the office. This stops the brain from going into rest mode.
COVID-19 gave employers a look into this technique as many of us were forced to move our operations from offices to homes and work remotely. In the beginning, productivity was really high, displaying that employees were more motivated being in a relaxing environment like their home, but over time, productivity started going down as employees stopped focusing on work, and more on their TVs, phones, games etc.
It’s key to have these 5-minute breaks in place to create a sense of calm and allows people to manage their stress levels effectively. But remember, don’t encourage too long of a break, as your focused employees will become less productive.
Focus and productivity have a strong correlation. The more focused a person is, the more productive they will be. So, the question becomes: how do I create a focused environment? Well, it’s a lot simpler than you think.
Start by trying to promote a healthy lifestyle. I know, it sounds really cheesy but honestly, this is one of the best things you can do. Make sure you get enough sleep and go for a walk during lunch. The idea behind this is that it allows the brain to shut off for a while and begin to differentiate work time from rest time.
Health isn’t the only way to increase focus & productivity, but try to keep on top of your to-do list. Check your inbox and organise it correctly. Have a smaller to-do list. Improve your time management skills and avoid any last-minute jobs. By focusing on your to-do list, you have a clear idea of what your tasks are and can spend your work hours in the right way.
Finally, minimise distractions. Turn off your phone, save conversations for lunch or scheduled breaks and spend less time overthinking. It’s really simple to carry out and you’ll see the benefits pretty much instantly, you just have to create the habit of it and stick to it. It’ll stop the short bursts of productivity and will create an environment of progress and productivity.
Hours of Work
Finally, you need to recognise that your time at work is finite and limited. Save time by dedicating your hours to the important task rather than spending less time on it and more time on other smaller tasks.
As a business owner, I know we all want the ideal employee to work longer hours whilst having high levels of productivity, but this is near impossible to achieve. Stop trying to force employees to do overtime and instead, let them come to you asking about it.
Those who ask about doing longer hours will show greater productivity than those forced into it. You can promote the idea of working more hours by creating dopamine-production tasks, which will help give employees more motivation and more enjoyment. The ability to create these types of tasks isn’t hard if you follow our guide.
Start Working Smarter
If you have read through this complete guide from top to bottom, then congratulations; you now know how to work smarter not harder!
All of the productivity tips we have given are simple to implement and promote the habit of working smarter. By working smarter not harder, you’ll notice that it saves time throughout your work day and you’ll be able to focus on one task at a time, whilst dedicating a lot of energy to it.
Try promoting this work habit in your workspace and you’ll notice increased productivity within your workforce. It may take time for people to start working smarter, but once they do, your office will be minimal in distractions, super-efficient, really productive and a lot easier to manage within your life.
If you are interested in learning more about work habits you can promote within your office workspace or would like to know-how by implementing the work smarter not harder mindset within our office has helped, then be sure to check out our other blogs.
My Final Thoughts
The reason for this article is to make it really simple for me to share this when I think my friends or potential partners are not working effectively.
I want my friends, family, and partners to enjoy work.
But more importantly, have free time to actually live their life.
When you set yourself up to work more with less income, you’re asking for exhaustion, disillusionment, and unhappiness. You’ll eventually give up on freelance work, or quit and find a “regular” job with a “livable” wage. Be sure that the dream you gave up was because you wanted to, and not because you didn’t charge enough. Underselling yourself poisons dreams and makes them monsters.
For me, wasted time is much worse than wasted money and time is invaluable.
We work to live not live to work so need to understand the working smarter vs working harder model.
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I’m a full-blown Search Engine Optimization specialist earning the majority of my income from SEO-focused endeavours, including affiliate marketing, lead generation, as well as SEO services. Love travelling the world networking while working on my laptop. Life is a perception of your own reality. You have no excuses and should be making memories every single day.