Work Smarter, NOT Harder

How many times have you heard some time-management “Guru” say the words above?  If you’re like most people, when you hear them, you nod, as if to say, “Yeah, that’s a really great idea!”  But you really want to scratch your head and add, “But how do I do that?”

People often confuse hard work with struggling.  To be successful at anything usually means you have to work hard at it.  But you should never have to struggle.  Hard work may include making multitudes of phone calls or spending long hours creating, preparing, or practicing.  Struggling is doing that same work—or extra work—feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or desperate…or with the view that what you’re doing is tedious or distasteful.

If you’re working hard to reach a goal that has meaning for you, congratulations!  Don’t let anything stand in your way.  If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, here are two things you can do:

1. Let go of the outcome.  Set a goal, develop a plan to reach that goal, determine the details of the plan, and focus your energy on accomplishing those details.  The goal you are pursuing will happen—or it won’t—whether or not you worry, fret, and make yourself sick.  Those feelings are optional.  The end result only comes from your focused energy and your actionnot from struggling.

2. Get help.  The “self-made man” is a myth.  My father always saw himself as Gary Cooper in High Noon.  He was convinced that in order to be successful, he had to do it all himself.  As a result, he never achieved the success he wanted.  The reality is that most of the people we think of as being successful got where they are because they sought support from (and gave support to) many other people.

To me, working smarter means: Do the things you like the most and what absolutely must be done by you, and delegate the rest.  Get rid of the things you hate to do—or that don’t make sense for you to do.

“But how can I afford it?” you may ask.  That’s easy.  Promise yourself that you’ll earn money to pay for it doing what you do best.  Think about this: If you do just one hour of work that generates $300, you’ve earned enough to pay for 15 hours of an assistant’s help.  How ridiculous is it to waste time doing the $20/hour paperwork you hate—work that you could much more easily give to someone else?  STOP doing it, and hire the help you need.

But don’t stop at the things you hate in your business or practice.  Find someone to clean your house or complete those other personal chores that weigh you down.  There are people waiting to take the jobs that distract you off of your shoulders—people who love to make a living doing the stuff that you dislike, don’t have time for, or feel you’ve earned the right to stop doing.  They’re everywhere!

In most pursuits, strong, independent work is necessary.  But the “smart” work is the work you do best and that brings you income.  As for the rest, delegate it, automate it, systematize it, or simplify it.  Computerize what you can.  You can use a simple money management program like Quicken, Quickbooks, or Microsoft Money, and have an accountant or admin take charge of the bookkeeping.  Get rid of the clutter that distracts you and have a system for everything that needs to be done, so that you can focus on what you want to be doing.

Start by making a list of the things you’re struggling with, and then, get help.  You can check out my no-cost Audio Program on this topic, or explore other complimentary downloads on my Resources Page.  Whatever you do, be smart, stop struggling, and above all, keep REACHING…