Career Control: Working Smarter, Not Harder

Think that you’re a one-track kind of person? Impossible. With the amount of technology in our lives, distractions appear minute by minute with email and social media notifications being the biggest disturbance to your train of thought. Regularly switching between tasks and apps will give you the impression of being busy, yet it will be damaging to your concentration levels and detrimental to your ability to complete set tasks to the best of your ability.

Learn how to narrow your focus and introduce the coping methods you need to meet your targets. Force yourself to put your phone on sleep mode and turn off your notifications for outlook, text messages and all your social media apps. As the go-to person, do you get interrupted more times than you can count? Hire out a meeting room to allow yourself the peace and quiet you need to get the job done. Give your PA a clear outline of your commitments and utilise their gatekeeping skills to maximise the time you need outside of meetings to concentrate on your pressing deadlines.

Learn to say no. 
Over committing on our own time, energy and resources is something that happens to us all, call it a natural skill. It’s not always a bad thing but if you start to find that your original to do list is still outstanding by the next morning, you may want to rethink your workload strategy. Consistently saying ‘yes’ leaves you open to inefficiency, stress and will ultimately compromise the standard of your own work. Be confident, say no and watch your performance and productivity improve immediately.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. 
Have a looming deadline for the presentation which could open the door to your next promotion? Need to pull together a board pack for your new CFO by tomorrow? Standing in as the keynote speaker at an event commencing in a couple of hours? When it comes to big and or important tasks, don’t sweat the small stuff. Instead, utilise the materials which have worked for you in the past whether that be a document template, a slide deck, maybe even a step by step on how to get you from a to b without falling off track. New to the task at hand? Communicate, ask for input from your colleagues on whether they have had to deal with a similar scenario in the past and use their advice to your advantage.

Understand your rhythm. 
We are all familiar with Circadian Rhythms, the 24 hour body clock which defines our wake/sleep patterns however our Ultradian Rhythms are equally important, working as our natural body cycles signaling when we need to take a short break to avoid losing focus and burning out throughout the day. 

It is scientifically proven that your brain can only go between 90-120 minutes (your Ultradian Rhythm) before it needs some down time so aim to take periodic breaks to manage your energy levels. This will allow yourself to focus properly and recharge your ability to process information as opposed to powering through by pumping yourself full of caffeine and drinking the entire coffee supply for the office. Taking a 10-15 minute break will be a game changer to your routine.

Team work. 
Working smarter rather than harder boils down to understanding the most efficient and effective way to complete tasks without compromising on the quality of your work. Queue your team, colleagues and the resources available to you at work. Don’t be shy in reaching out to those around you, remember that as a team you all have a common interest in making the company and your finance department successful with everyone having different skill sets which can be used to achieve different goals. Able to delegate? Fantastic! However, resist the urge to only delegate the less interesting tasks and always make sure that you are delegating in the right direction. This will be the person most suited to best execute the job at hand to avoid having to revisit it further down the line.
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