“Success at the speed of balance”

It seems the new business buzzword lately is to work ‘smart’ not hard. We all need to be working smarter. Putting our health at the top of our priority list and all that that entails. Making sure that we achieve that elusive balance and regularly take time out of our busy work schedules for other interests and time with those closest to us. I follow Gary Vaynerchuck online and he is all about working hard and ‘hustling’! Towards the end of last year, I started following Tai Lopez and he is all about working ‘smarter’, putting health at the top of your priority list, making time for the things that you love and working smart. Arianna Huffington the founder of Huffpost wrote a whole book called ‘Thrive’ which I read last year about how working herself into the ground and surviving on very little sleep for years led her to collapse at her desk and break her cheekbone. I recently read her second book ‘The Sleep Revolution’ and along with her first book, it is all about working smarter and putting your health at the top beyond anything else. I just don’t know if she would have gotten to where she is if she was only working smart!

In her book ‘The Sleep Revolution’ she briefly touches on how during the industrial revolution people moved from their farms into the cities and starting working really long hours in the factories. It had disastrous effects on families and communities. It was common for working hours to be 14-16 hours per day, six days a week! In 1817 Robert Owen petitioned for an eight-hour workday – “Eight hours’ labour, eight hours’ recreation, eight hours’ rest.” Progress in this area was relatively slow as there was so much cheap labour available. One of the first businesses to implement the eight-hour working day was the ford motor company in 1914. It decreased labour hours to only eight hours per day but also doubled wages in the process. The productivity of the workers increased significantly and Ford’s profit quickly doubled. Interestingly enough New Zealand was the first country to follow on and adopt the eight-hour workday whereas other countries made slower progress!

Can we be even MORE productive in less time?

Often part-time workers can be often just as productive as their full-time counterparts! Tim Ferris wrote a whole book awhile back called ‘The Four Hour Workweek’. While I think four hours is probably not enough time for most people to get all of their work done he has some really good tips for working ‘smarter’ and really getting the most out of your work hours.

Five simple tips to work SMARTER:

1. Separate your wages from your time: As much as possible work to separate your wage from your time. If you are an entrepreneur you are already doing this and eventually, at some point, you can be getting paid while you sleep! If you work for wages try and negotiate some out of office work. You have more flexibility in how you spend your time, you can fit more things into your day, and you can often get your work done much faster if you have to.

2. Set deadlines or due dates: There is a very important old saying called Parkinson’s Law. It states that your work expands to fit the hours you have allotted for completion. So if you work an eight hour day your work will expand to fit the full eight hours and if you work a six hour day you can often get your work done much faster in six hours if you have to. Setting due dates (even if self-imposed) can help motivate us to work much faster and harder to get everything done much quicker!

3. Exercise before you start: I think I can pretty much put exercise on every single self-help list. Getting some good quality exercise in before you start work gets everything flowing and moving and helps to boost your brain power, optimism and productivity. Plus it is much healthier for your body! Healthy body = healthy mind!

4. When do you work best? Figure out what times are best for you to get work done. We are all different! Writers and creatives will often get their best work done early in the morning or late at night. Figure out when you do your best work and rearrange your schedule to suit.

5. Take regular breaks: I love the Pomodoro Technique but I am really bad at actually taking the breaks when the timer goes off! However, I think it is really important to regularly stretch and move around and rest your eyes from screens. Creativity does not exist in a vacuum we need to be regularly changing things up to create space for new ideas!

Our world is changing it is becoming more innovative and creative and the way that we do work is changing! The factory worker model no longer exists as we are rapidly gaining more control over how we work, when we work and what we choose to work on. Even in organisations the employees that show entrepreneurialism and creativity are going to have greater control over how their work gets done. So my posts coming up on this blog are going to be all about making the best use of your time, working smarter, and how you get yourself into that creative state where your work just flows and you can get more done in less time!

-B xx

(Photo: Frank Mckenna)

Finding Balance by Lavendaire