We have all heard about how to work smarter and not harder and how it’s almost certainly something we should be considering when we have our own business. But what does this buzzword mean and how will it practically help us to make our own working lives more productive?
The truth is that many of us, whether experienced bloggers, plumbers or entrepreneurs, are very stuck in our ways when it comes to how we work. We’ve found a pattern that seems to work well for us and produces the results we need, so we’re not looking to upset the apple cart and change a practice that has worked perfectly well up until now.
There’s a lot of truth in this and for many of us, it’s an attitude that will see us through to the end of our working lives but for others, this inability to adapt is going to spell trouble in the long-run.
We take a look at what it means to work smart in an age of every changing technology, without getting overwhelmed.
Smarter Doesn’t Mean Harder
It is important to say this right from the off. Your business might be creeping forwards at a steady pace, or it might be hurtling at the speed of sound, but neither of these scenarios means you have to work yourself into the ground to keep up with its demands.
The problem with a non-adapting attitude is that ultimately it can be you that suffers. You will find that either you lose out on vital customer sign up or that you can’t cope with the workload and ultimately lose repeat business.
With a little common sense and by maintaining an open mind towards technology and smarter working theories, you might even find yourself working fewer hours as you streamline and make your business work harder for you.
It’s Not All About The Tech
But let’s face it, tech is going to play a big part in helping you to get your business well and truly moving forward. You don’t have to be Elon Musk, to keep up with the trends but keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing and some of the advancements being made in your industry are certainly going to help.
If your website sells physical goods, how do customers feel about your checking out options? Are there enough or could you, for example, include Apple Pay or PayPal to provide safer and quicker payment options. You might not be ready to accept a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin yet but do your research and find out what would make your customer happier when it comes to paying you.
This might also apply to your invoicing options, so contact customers directly with a market research strategy to make sure you’re not only missing out on vital return customer trade but that your customers really know that you’re listening to their needs and are willing to adapt to them.
When it comes to less tangible tech solutions, you’ll need to look at some of the fundamentals of your business practice. For example, how are your customers finding you? Are you having to invest a lot of money in advertising with little result or perhaps you’re simply relying on word of mouth or free social media options.
It might seem counter intuitive but by calling in the experts at this stage, an SEO Liverpool based consultant for example, might well end up saving you money and your time in the long run. Get them to do the leg work finding where your audience are online and tailoring your blogs and website accordingly.
Work Better, Not Longer
This is really the crux of the work smarter campaign. When you run your own business it’s very easy to adopt a head down approach that has you ploughing forwards and not leaving much time to come up for air. It’s easy to get lost in the day to day planning and execution of tasks, without stopping to see the bigger picture and where you’re heading.
The idea of working smarter, helps to eliminate that approach and relies on you having laid a good foundation with clear goals and objectives in order to spend your working day more productively and ultimately more profitably.
You might need to take yourself, or your team, off on a retreat for a day away from the office in order to get this ball rolling. Be somewhere that you can avoid the distractions of the work environment and start by forming your big picture, or your mission statement. Who are you and what do you believe your business is all about? It’s not an easy question to answer and if you are only just about turning over a profit, then you are going to struggle to answer this fully. For most people though the answer will include something about the quality of your product or service and the role it plays in meeting your clients’ needs.
Getting that big picture done is the first step in really being able to plan your workload much more effectively. You undoubtedly have your business goals in mind but when was the last time you re-visited your objectives? If you have lost sight of how it is you plan on achieving these goals, then it’s time to start from scratch and get them down on paper. These crucial steps are what will take you further along the road to your goals and without them you will struggle to see where you are going.
If your goals describe your future achievements in words, then your objectives take you there in figures. Use them to give you tangible, realistic targets to work towards, whether that is an increase in traffic to a particular page on your website or the number of email addresses you have signed up to your mailing list. Naturally, it will also include financial targets but make sure you follow the SMART approach of making your objectives Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
Very often the element that gets most overlooked in this scenario is that of measuring and evaluating your targets. Perhaps because we are so keen on getting on with the job and heading towards our goals, we forget to step back and evaluate the actions we are taking. But rather than just getting on with it, we should be pausing now and again to evaluate if the actions we are taking are heading towards our desired outcomes or taking us off in a wrong direction.
It can be easy to adopt a blind faith in the objectives themselves and believe that they are set in stone to be followed to the letter. While they are well thought out and act like an instruction manual, if we don’t stop to evaluate them we can find ourselves going well away from our intended outcomes. Far better to adjust objectives if needed in order to get back on the right track, then go off on a tangent and create twice as much work rowing back to the beginning.
The You Factor
Working SMARTer and not harder is our objective and yet very often we find ourselves if not physically working, then certainly thinking about work at precisely the moments we should be winding down and relaxing. Sometimes in order to work more efficiently overall, we have to step back and allow our brains and bodies time to process and relax after a long week or day. This can make us feel guilty but avoiding burn out from excessive hours can only benefit you and your business so carving out some much-needed down time should be something of a priority for you.
If you do have a team working with you, make sure you recognise their mental and physical health as a priority and have ingrained as part of your company culture. In order to lead by example, you are going to need to set aside time for exercise or spending time with your family and you’ll need to encourage your staff to do the same. Your standards are high, but you know that looking after their wellbeing is what will keep your team loyal and hardworking in the long-run.
You don’t have to continue to pour in everything you have to your business. If you are someone who has built from the ground up, then that sense or determination and pride goes a long way in motivating you and pushing you forward. But there is only so far you can go, on determination alone and there are times when you’re going to have to recognise that change can be a good thing. Whether it’s saving you time, keeping your customers satisfied or just keeping up with the times, you’ll be glad you made the commitment to change.
How I Make A Living Online
I make my living online, through affiliate marketing and I have learnt everything I needed to know about building such a business through Wealthy Affiliate.
Wealthy Affiliate is a comprehensive training platform for anyone wanting to either start an online business or build upon an existing one.
If you want to check it out for free with no credit card required click on the link below.
Set yourself time out of the working week to really consider where you are and where you want to be. Give yourself time to reflect and think about how you have got where you are and how smarter working can take you into the future. Make your action plan a reality and get going.
If you have found this post useful then please do me a favour and give it a share on your favourite social media platform. Sharing is Caring.
As ever if you have any questions or want to share your own thoughts or experiences, please leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
With Grace and Gratitude
Please be aware that this post may contain affiliate links which means that if you click on one and then make a purchase, I will earn a commission but it will not cost you any more.