3 Ways to Work Smarter and Not Harder in 2020
1. Become more productive while conserving your time and energy.
The 80/20 rule
The Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule, states that about 20% of your efforts account for 80% of your results. This means that of all the things on your to do list, 20% of them will have the biggest impact on your work and life and the other 80% are mostly busy work that is not usually worth your full time and attention.
(You know that this is true in your closet too, right? We wear about 20% of our clothes 80% of the time!)
What moves the needle most in your work and life?
In order to capitalize on this principle, we need to take a look at our to do lists and see what will have the biggest impact on our work or life and tackle those tasks first. They are usually the more challenging tasks creatively so we may tend to put them off until we check off easier to do items that make us seem productive.
But if we are going to work smarter and not harder in 2020, we need to focus on what will move the needle most in our day, week, work, and personal life and let those things have special priority for us. That 20% will have the most impact on our lives and will leave us with the biggest impact and less exhausted from running around with smaller tasks that have less value.
- Make a list of the top 10 things that you need to do this week and focus on the two most important items on that list. See how that moves the needle and gives you a sense of true accomplishment without feeling exhausted.
- Check out Brian Tracy’s work on goal setting using this rule. He discusses ways to set priorities that will make the biggest impact on your life and how to tackle the most impactful tasks first.
- Pick up a copy of Chris Bailey’s, “The Productivity Project”, which is basically a book on mindfulness of your time, attention, and energy. It really opened my eyes to ways that I was making myself feel productive while putting off the harder things that I need to do in my business. Our time is such a valuable resource that we can’t get more of it, but we can use it more wisely.
2. Let go of what doesn’t serve you.
Since we will be focusing more on the 20% in our work and personal lives that really move the needle for us without exhausting us, we will inevitably have to let go of some things from the other 80% that we just can’t get to or don’t add enough value to put our efforts into them.
Sometimes this means letting go of relationships (personal or work) that don’t serve us. Sometimes it means cutting back on the responsibilities that we take on. And sometimes it means letting go of being hard on ourselves when things don’t work out as we anticipated.
- Try sitting for 5 minutes a day in quiet meditation. Sitting for just a few minutes a day in meditation can help you get some space in your mind so that you actually have the time and the quiet energy to actually see how you feel to determine what would feel great to release.
- Listen to or read Francine Jay’s book, “The Joy of Less”. This book is probably the one book that has made me the happiest in life and had the biggest impact on my life. This book is about letting go of the stuff that doesn’t serve you, but also the emotional stories that go along with that stuff.
It shifted my whole philosophy on some things that I had held onto that made me feel bad and tied down and also how I looked mindfully at everything that I bought and brought into the house.
3. Slow down and schedule time to refill your cup and recharge.
Working smarter and not harder also means taking time to purposefully rest so that you have the energy and attention to put towards your work when you come back to it.
If you are constantly running, you will eventually run yourself down. You will get sick and your body will make you slow down. Your mind may feel so busy and cluttered that you become stressed and anxious with no way of turning it off when it comes time to take a break.
Scheduling time to find things that will refill your cup and recharge you doesn’t take time away from your work or family, it gives you more quality time to be present.
- Check out my blog post holiday self-care post. Self-care gets seriously neglected around the holidays, but these tips work year round
- Start journaling 3-5 minutes per day and see where you’re at so you can determine what things would actually recharge you. Everyone is different and every day you may need something different based upon what you need to get done and how you feel in your mind and body.
- I love Jenna Kutcher’s podcast, The Goal Digger. She has so many tips about being an entrepreneur and how to enhance your business, but one of my favorite things about her philosophy is that she emphasizes that there are times for hustle and times for resting.
She strikes a balance in her own business and in what she teaches entrepreneurs who follow her that one of the reasons for starting your own business is to get some control over your time and how you spend it.
And if we are constantly working on our businesses we’ve lost that value. Even if you don’t own your own business, I recommend following Jenna as she has some great tips on how to use your time and attention at work while keeping your personal priorities a priority.
What do you think?
I hope you’ve come away with a few simple ideas on how to make 2020 a year of working smarter and not harder, of feeling more productive, and less run down.
Do these things seem like they could leave you feeling like you have more energy to do what you love? Send me an email with what suggestion connected most deeply with you. I would love to hear about it!