I lost count on how many “get rich quick” schemes I saw advertised in my social media feeds today. Ironically, the requirement of hard work was mysteriously absent. No surprise since their profit accumulates from the delusion that reaching our wildest dreams requires minimal effort. For those of us who have been around a while, we know that these so-called promises grossly exaggerate.
Therefore, if you were expecting my blog to tell you that smart work does not require hard work, please close the browser now and give yourself some time back. For the serious success seekers, keep reading.
The truth is, to reach any form of success, hard work must be a pillar of the strategy. Our odds of achieving success accelerate when we learn how to turn hard work into smart work.
Three steps to turn hard work into smart work
Step 1) Build a REAL Strategy
It might sound obvious to some, but you must have a well thought out written strategy and execution plan for achieving your goals that lead to ultimate success. The overused term “strategy” has become somewhat of a cliche or an assumption of thought vs. a real document. I observe many people talking about their goals and dreams, but drowning in long hours of random busy work making minimal progress.
I list strategy as the number one step because turning hard work into smart work is impossible without one. It’s the foundation for everything that drives the outcome of success. Whether you’re the CEO of your own company or an employee within an organization, you need a strategy for where you want to go and how you will get there. If you don’t have a defined strategy aligned with an executable plan, I urge you to schedule time to create one. Being intentional about slowing down to speed up accelerates hard work into smart work.
I recommend taking two days, perhaps over a weekend, and unplug from the rest of the world to focus on building a strategy. There is too much to share in this post so check my blog next week to learn my step-by-step approach for building a strategy to work smart.
“Without a vision, people perish. Without a plan, people flounder.”
– Teresa Devine
Step 2) Master Time Management
It’s a topic beaten to death because if it’s vital importance to success. If you struggle with wasting time or distractions, it is imperative that you gain control of every precious minute. There’s only one gift that every human receives equally, and that’s time. So, why is it that one person can maximize every minute while another can burn through 24-hours with nothing accomplished except sleep?
Far greater success is achievable for those who understand and embrace time mastery. Managing the gift of time prevents us from neglecting key relationships, burn-out, and many other harmful outcomes when practiced daily.
To ensure activities align with your strategy, perform a time audit on yourself! First, determine what is occupying your time. Remember those big heavy day planners? You can still track your day manually or automate the process with helpful tools like rescuetime.com.
After logging where your hours go, adjust the activities by saying yes or no to each task. Ask yourself, does this activity produce the results needed for success, yes or no? If not, stop doing it! Identify the gaps in missing activities to promote growth and do that! To ensure execution, schedule your tasks with blocks of time on your calendar or task list and avoid distractions by shiny objects that derail us from high-yielding activities.
Delegate tasks that others can do and replace that time with high-producing actions. Every person that I coach on time management gains time back while increasing productivity and results.
My day is driven by what is either on, or not on, my calendar. If it’s blank, I can expect an unproductive day. If it’s filled and well structured, I can guarantee a day of results. I am a tools geek, so I use time management tools like Outlook, Nozbe, SmartSheets, and Monday.com
“Time: We can’t reproduce it, bottle it, or pause it. Therefore, it’s true value is priceless.”
– Teresa Devine
Step 3) Apply “Deep Work”
Bill Gates made the concept of “deep work” famous. Gates mastered the skill of long-term concentration without disruption. He used intense FOCUS! He would produce code well into the night, fall asleep at his computer, wake up, and continue coding without missing a beat.
According to an article in Business Insider, “It’s a perfect example of “deep work,” Georgetown professor and author Cal Newport says in his new book of the same name, and it’s the reason why Gates had such a remarkable rise to success while still in his early 20s. Newport defines deep work as “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit, [which then] create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to duplicate.”
I love that! The application of deep work not only maximizes our time to produce results, but it also catapults us into higher levels of performance, knowledge, and capacity. Do you see how each step builds upon other?
“A chaotic mind creates chaos. A focused mind creates futures.”
– Teresa Devine
I challenge you to take these steps today. Approach each one methodically and be kind to yourself as you build a smart approach to hard work. Remember, like everything in life, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. This is just a sampling of the many ways to turn hard work into smart work. Check my blog for more on this topic and share your progress here to help others succeed!
Need some help getting to the next level? Work with me. As a certified Gallup Strengths Coach and experienced Fortune 500 executive that’s been there, done that. I can accelerate your results towards TRUE success!
Learn more about corporate leadership training and Strengths coaching at http://serveleadsucceed.com
Business Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/bill-gates-deep-work-productivity-and-success-2016-1
Cal Newport: http://calnewport.com/