A recent survey shows that many of Singapore’s workers work beyond official working hours. Most cited tight deadlines and work overload as the top reasons for working overtime. Perhaps you may find yourself in a similar situation, where you often work your fingers to the bone to get things done and keep up with the competition.
While it’s easy to equate working harder and longer with better results and productivity, that’s not always the case. Many times, pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion can be counterproductive. Aside from increasing your stress levels and putting your health at risk, overworking can also impact performance and productivity. After all, it’s practically impossible to perform at your best if you’re physically and mentally fatigued.
That said, you may want to adopt a different approach to achieve your goals. Instead of burning the candle at both ends, consider working smarter. Find effective ways to get the results you want without sacrificing your health or personal time. To help you get started toward this end, consider the following tips:
Upgrade Your Skills
To learn strategies that can make you more efficient and productive at work, prioritise skill upgrading. When you enhance your knowledge base and competency, you can improve your performance, adapt better to work challenges, and have more control over your career trajectory. As you learn to leverage technology and use innovative techniques, you can get things done better and faster.
There are many ways to upgrade your skills. You can search for educational resources online or attend webinars related to your field. Better yet, if you’re a Singaporean citizen aged 25 and above, consider using your SkillsFuture Credit to enrol in a wide range of SkillsFuture credit courses, from accounting and business management to data analytics and information and communications.
Create a “Not-To-Do” List
Chances are, you already have a list of things you need to do, and while it’s helpful to keep priorities in order and track your progress, it may not be enough. To maintain your focus on essential tasks, make good use of your time, and avoid distractions, you may also need to create a not-to-do list.
Assess your daily activities and jot down all the things that distract you from maximising your work day. Scrolling through social media, internet browsing, answering text messages, and gossiping with co-workers are some common distractions you may want to include in your “not to-do” list. When you identify the things that hinder productivity and commit to avoiding them at all costs, you might be surprised at how much more you can accomplish in a day.
Perhaps you frequently multitask in order to get more work done. If so, you may want to adopt a different approach because multitasking can actually hurt your efforts. One study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance shows that multitasking is most likely reducing the brain’s efficiency, especially when doing complicated tasks. That’s because it takes additional time to change mental gears every time you shift between tasks.
As such, consider grouping related tasks to maximise efficiency and keep your brain in the zone. For instance, you can schedule your meetings one after the other so that your mind will get into the flow and remain in problem-solving or brainstorming mode without interruptions. Manage the rest of your work assignments in the same manner. Allocate specific hours to do the same type of work as much as possible instead of switching back and forth between unrelated tasks.
Boost Your Time Management Skills
One of the most important components of working smart is adopting effective habits to make the most of your working hours. If you know how to manage your time wisely, you can get a lot of work done and enjoy a better work-life balance. Do you need ideas to boost your time management skills? Here are several strategies that can help you plan your day better:
- Create a to-do list. Make a detailed list of essential tasks you need to accomplish and plan your day accordingly. Remember to prioritise your tasks and keep your list realistic and manageable. Otherwise, you’ll probably feel overwhelmed and become demotivated.
- Learn to delegate. Share responsibilities with your team members as much as possible instead of carrying most of the load. Aside from having more time to focus on high-impact tasks, you can also lower your stress levels and meet deadlines readily when you master the art of delegating.
- Take advantage of downtime. Instead of fretting over long commutes, heavy traffic, or long lines in your favourite hawker centre stall, use this time to do something useful. Perhaps you can create a to-do list for the following day, answer emails, send text messages, or brainstorm ideas for your next presentation. You can also use your downtime to de-stress and give yourself a much-needed break. Listen to relaxing music, do breathing exercises, or catch up on your reading to recharge and keep yourself motivated.
Contrary to a common misconception, working longer hours doesn’t necessarily translate to increased productivity and success. You might just end up exhausted and overly stressed. To have a better chance of achieving your goals and performing at your best, learn to work smart. Use the tips above as a jumping-off point and continue searching for similar strategies that suit your unique situation.