BACK TO BASICS
WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER
BY CAROL L. BROOKS, SR/WA
“Simplicity means the achievement of maximum effect
with minimum means.”
The popular lifestyle phrase, “Work smarter, not harder,” was coined
by Carl Barks, a Disney Studio illustrator and comic book creator.
But what does it really mean and how can we do it?
build relationships while keeping you plugged into the office
grapevine. Share an anecdote or personal story while waiting for
a meeting to start. Have coffee with a coworker. Consider joining
your office softball team or helping organize the annual toy drive.
Work-smart experts advocate that we prioritize, delegate, set
deadlines and goals, organize and plan ahead. But there is another
philosophy that I call simplicity. Simplicity means working in an
arena of ease. It’s about removing complications from your life.
When you do, you are freed up to carve a personalized approach for
Don’t Make Work Harder than it Is
Many times, pressure is self-induced. We set unrealistically high
goals or standards for ourselves and feel like we should be doing
more. Remember that tasks get completed in a step-by-step
fashion. Rather than focus on the entire project, break it into
manageable steps. This can help alleviate those feelings of being
overwhelmed and enable us to think creatively, freely and more
Does this sound too elementary? Too trivial? For some reason, we
think a solution has to be dynamic and powerful to really work.
But when it comes to working smarter, that’s not the case. So what
are the best ways to work smarter? If you want to save time, relieve
stress, think creatively and improve the bounce-back factor after a
setback, then consider these basics in simplicity:
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Why waste time duplicating something that has been created or
optimized by someone else? Instead of spinning your wheels, tap
into the experiences of others and learn from them. Take their
ideas and solutions and build on them. Glean the basic concepts
that can become the foundation for your own ideas. Now that’s
Keep it Simple
Declutter your life. Create a “to-do” list and organize it logically. If
some of the items fall under one category, group them together and
work on them until that category is completed. This will help keep
your thoughts and efforts focused. Identify items that seem like busy
work and ask yourself if this item needs your attention today. Can it
be deferred? Can it be eliminated altogether?
Listen More; Talk Less
Something dramatic happens when we relax and really listen
to what someone is saying. It allows us to chill out and think
clearly. We gather information about the person’s feelings, wants,
concerns and needs. When we interrupt, we get only part of
the story. With only a portion to work with, we think ahead to
solutions that can easily lead us down the wrong path. Remember,
if your lips are moving, you are not learning anything new.
Go with the Flow
Walking with the wind at your back is easier than facing a head
wind. The same notion applies to making smarter judgments.
Do you tend to make a mountain out of a mole hill? Do you find
yourself going against the grain and always rocking the boat? This
can be adding undue stress to your life. Ask yourself, “Am I going
with the flow?” Then figure out how to switch your position in favor
of the wind.
Live Life King-Size
Life is unpredictable, so make sure you’re having some fun along
the way. Being overworked and stressed can rob your joy and make
you sour. The first step is to do something simple - smile. A smile
tells your subconscious to expect happiness and sets the wheels in
motion. It will make you more approachable, which encourages
others to want to interact with you. Chitchat at work can help you
Carol L. Brooks, SR/WA
Owner of Cornerstone Management Skills, Carol is an
internationally-recognized author and lecturer on conflict
management, interpersonal skills and success strategies.
She has nearly 20 years experience in the right of way
profession and is a Master Instructor for IRWA courses.
©2013 Carol L. Brooks All Rights Reserved. For more
information, visit www.cornerstonemanagementskills.com