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5 Ways to Work Smart

Updated on November 16, 2015

Introduction

I'm sure we all have days when somehow we feel really motivated to work, but I bet there are also days when working feels a bit of a drudge. Often that happens because we aren't really sure what we need to do and when that is the case it is very easy to procrastinate and put things off. As someone who runs their own business its important to keep up a steady work pace, after all if you are your own boss there isn't going to be anybody checking up on what you do or how much work you get through.

We all know there are some days when tasks can feel like a uphill struggle and other days when we sort of breeze through. But if you want each day to be manageable so that you keep up momentum, which is especially important if you run your own business, then make sure that you work SMART, its a great way to stay motivated and make sure you keep moving forward to achieve your goals

Specific

The S stands for specific. That is so important. Think about whether you are working or shopping or taking part in any purposeful activity - you need to be specific. Imagine you go shopping and you have no list, or even any idea of what you want to buy! Usually the actual purpose of shopping is to buy something - whether that is food for dinner or a birthday gift, it simply wouldn't happen unless at some point you were specific about your purpose. The same would apply to going to the gym, or planning a holiday, organising an outing or even cooking a meal.

The same is true ofr work. There may be an over arching purpose, some long term goal or dream you are chasing but if you want to be productive at work you need to be very specific about what your actual purpose is TODAY or this week. Think back to the last time you maybe frittered away time, checking facebook, surfing the net or just being very slow going about things, more often than not it's because there was nothing specific that you were working on. There may have been a ton of things to do but no one specific thing that you had determined to get finished.

So whether you like a daily 'to do' list or a weekly set of targets make sure that each day you have something very specific to work on. It needn't be just one thing some tasks take time and can be interspersed with other things but be careful to always have some specific actions to take and tasks to complete.

Measurable

Once you have been specific about what you want to achieve it is important to devise a way for it to be measurable. Its easy if it's things like, sending emails, writing copy for an advert, producing something tangible, but its harder if it things like networking.

Harder but still possible, if you are going to a network meeting to build your client list for example or perhaps to find someone to collaborate with on a joint venture, give yourself a measurable goal - so in this case perhaps talking to at least 5 people who'd be potential collaborators or clients.

If you are writing content for a blog or following up leads with sales calls then give your self a target that is measurable. If you do that you are much more likely to achieve it - when the clock starts ticking you will probably find you make sure you talk to one more person, or make one more call to ensure you don't fall short of what you have decided to measure.

We all like to track our progress and this can be very inspirational but if we haven't set our self any targets or goals that are measurable it is hard to actually see how far we have come.

Achievable AND Aspirational

I know that is two 'A's not one. Technically it should be achievable and that is important. If we constantly set ourselves things to do or goals to achieve that simply are not possible we will simply find we lose all motivation. So it is important that set ourselves targets and working patterns that are achievable. In the example of networking then speaking to 5 new people is very achievable, speaking to 30 (and having anything other than the most cursory of conversations) is probably not.

However for a lot of people talking to 5 new people might not be stretching so it is important too to try and be 'aspirational' when you are setting yourself goals and targets to achieve. An aspiration is a strong desire so when you are dreaming your dreams, dream big, then weigh it a little against the achievable scale. It's simple really if things are too easy and don't stretch us we can easily become de-motivated but if they seem to hard to achieve we also become de-motivated because things will always seem out of reach.

So strike a balance and set your self some goals or targets that are aspirational but still achievable.

Realistic

This may be a bit about you and what you 'do' but it is also about all the other things that can impact our work or business. When unexpected things turn up sometimes we need to work hard to keep on track with our progress, sometimes we even need to adjust things a bit. But when we set our targets it is important to be realistic.

Say I was wanting to get a book completed in super quick time - I could set myself the target of writing maybe 8 to 10 hours per day. In all likelihood though while I might be able to do this for one or two days it would not be sustainable. I would be exhausted after the first day. Being realistic would mean that whilst there may be fewer hours completed each day - it would be more sustainable and therefore a lot more realistic and in the end the project probably would actually get finished. Once again if aren't realistic and set ourselves things to do that are simply not going to happen we will end up feeling completely demotivated.


Timely

Even if you are specific and you set your sights on well worked out goals and targets that are specific, measurable, achievable (whilst being aspirational), and realistic if you don't put them within a time frame the chances are they may never happen.

Whether you are the sort of person that will complete a task the minute before the deadline or days before, the fact that there is a 'deadline' usually means that it does actually happen.

So make sure that you always set an appropriate time scale in which to achieve things. If you don't then don't worry the fact that you have set a deadline will mean that at least you are AWARE that time has passed and it hasn't been achieved as opposed to just drifting through being unaware of time passing.

Get Smart Now

So whether you are a small business owner, an entrepreneur, or an employee, beginning to approach each day by setting yourself some SMART targets will help you be more productive and successful.

Perhaps you are working hard on a hobby or craft project, or even striving to bring more organisation to you life the best way to see results is to work SMART. However daunting the task may seem, by approaching it in a way that is smart it will feel more manageable and you will be able to see progress as you keep working.

Note down the things you want to achieve, be specific, make sure the targets you set are measurable, achievable, but also aspirational, realistic and are timely. That way you are much more likely to stay motivated because you will see your progress and be more productive because you have a plan.

So go on get SMART now.

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