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  • Writer's pictureRihazudin Razik

How to be as productive as possible at work

Always go back to the why.

Burnout is very real. Taking on too much work, missing deadlines, not taking breaks, and always pushing yourself to do better can hurt your work and personal life in a big way.

Most of the time, the key to success is to find ways to work smarter, not harder. "You have the same number of hours in a day as Beyoncé," says a picture that is often shared on Pinterest. In the spirit of doing just that, here are six ways to work smarter at work and get more done.

Check goals off

Even though it seems obvious, make a list. Even if it seems old-fashioned, write down what you need to do in bullet points on a piece of paper. It doesn't matter if they are goals, deadlines, or errands. Whatever you want to accomplish, write it down and hold yourself accountable. Not only will it give you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment as you cross each one off, but it will also help you manage your days by setting small, time-bound goals that you can reach.

We all know about the "SMART" scale for setting goals, and when you have a lot of tasks planned for a certain amount of time (like those 24 hours you and Bey share), you get so much more done because it keeps you on track, and at the end of the day, you can look back at your list and feel like you've done exactly what you set out to do. Then, move on to the next list and set of goals. If you're "carrying over" any goals you didn't finish, put them at the top of your next list.

Stop multitasking

We'd all love to be five different versions of ourselves, wouldn't we? Especially for freelancers, start-ups, or small-to-medium production companies where you wear many hats every day, you kind of wish you could have the "accountant," "manager," "client director," and "sales manager" versions of yourself all working independently at the same time, but that's just not possible.

Don't try to put out fires in every direction at once. Instead, focus on one at a time. It's not a good idea to split your attention and time, and it's also not a good use of your time. Give one task or commitment your full attention, then move on to the next one.

Simply say 'no'

Saying "no" is sometimes much better than saying "yes" to every offer that comes to your door. Don't forget that the goal is to work smarter, not harder. So, if you already give your all to every chance that comes your way, pick and choose the chances that will help you the most.

You don't want to spend all your time and energy on a project or brief you never really wanted in the first place. That's a good example of wasting your time, energy, and passion on things you don't really want to be doing. A key business skill that everyone should learn is how to politely and confidently say "no."

Set deadlines

Set deadlines that are realistic and doable to manage your own expectations as well as those of your clients. If you're trying to keep your business going while juggling 70 things at once, you might find a lot of reasons to put things off or put them aside. But if you stick to a schedule, you'll find that things almost take care of themselves. For example, if you have to do payroll, set a time each week to do it. If you want to finish a project in three months, put a date on your calendar and work toward it. Check in with yourself and/or your coworkers every week for 10 minutes to see how things are going.

Having deadlines and sticking to them not only pushes you to reach your goals, but also forces you to figure out what's most important. This makes your work much more efficient.

Make down time a priority

You are not invincible. Mantra: Repeat this to yourself as often as possible. You are the best thing you can do for yourself, so don't burn yourself out by not taking time to rest, recover, and just relax. The best version of you is the one who has slept more than five hours, had a fun, stress-free weekend, and is ready, rested, and ready to go for what's coming up next.

Don't be hard on yourself and think that you could be doing or achieving so much more when you're not working. Do yourself a favour and put downtime at the top of your list. This is because downtime is an investment in your future productivity. Taking care of yourself means you have to take time off.

As much as possible, delegate.

It's physically impossible to split yourself up into five or more people, but it's not impossible if you have other coworkers or contacts you can share the work with. "If you want something done, do it yourself," says an old saying. However, it can be very helpful to take yourself and your feelings out of the equation and, if possible, give small tasks to others so you can focus on the bigger fish that need to be fried.

We can all be guilty of giving ourselves too much work because we want it "done right," but stop and ask yourself if that is making you less happy with your work. Think of the saying "many hands make light work" in the future.

Now, go accomplish those goals one by one.

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