“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
– Abraham Lincoln
Most people would use all six hours to do the actual cutting, but planning for a task and sharpening skills can help you accomplish a task in much less time. We never have enough time and that we just cannot cope with 60 things all at once. How can we get out of that spiral? Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. When setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus. Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.
“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.”
– Richard Branson
When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend. Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward. Always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections in your niche. Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fast-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning.
“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.”
– Sir Ray Avery
Your greatest resource is not time. It is you. What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. If you do not get enough sleep and exercise, you find that you become less and less productive. Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter. As a society we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around. But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work. Don’t fall into the trap of working smarter and harder together.