The modern day hustle culture teaches you to “work hard play hard” and “sleep when you’re dead”…
But what if I told you that you can go further than you would through hard work by working smart, fostering a positive and creative state of mind, and maximising the periods where you do work through proper focus.
Sounds good right? Go further for less time and energy spent...
I have to preface this by saying there is a balance to be found, because periods of intense commitment - whether that be in your working or professional life - can take you very far.
Especially if you are faced with tasks or projects that simply require hours.
For example, when I first set up live. - my coaching platform - there was SO MUCH that needed to be done, that no amount of “working smart” was going to get me around the time that needed to be spent.
Having said this, there are many occasions where time spent isn’t the only driving force. These period tend to rely more on choices (like the strategy you take) and quality of work.
So let me break down each practice you can apply:
1. Take action in the right direction: (touched on in idea 1)
If you are spending time, effort, and energy, in the wrong direction (or in no direction!) you may have the sense of fulfilment from being busy - however, this doesn't mean a lot was achieved.
Let that sink in: You can be doing lots and feeling busy, whilst taking no steps in the right direction. You will feel good because you're doing lots, but little action has been made.
There are two things you can do here that must be balanced with one another:
a) Give yourself sufficient time to gain perspective, ensuring you're moving in the right direction.
I've been doing this in the last month, and some of the ideas generated, plans made, systems put in place, will make the work I do in the year to come 100x more impactful.
b) Stop over-planning and procrastinating, including doing a) too much.
A simple rule of thumb: If you have tasks that you know should be done, i.e. they are necessary or you know are in the right direction, do them before all else or delegate them to someone.
If you reach a point where these tasks no longer fill your plate, the foundations have been laid and you're moving in the right direction, take a step back once in a while to ensure your direction is the correct one.
2. Foster a positive and creative state of mind that leads to good actions and decisions:
One creative thought or decision can change your life, or change the trajectory of where you're going.
If your mind is full and unclear, you have little room for this to take place.
Transfer your thoughts to paper or notes, get organised (the more organised you are the better), and free space in your mind to do what it does best: think and generate ideas.
“Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think.” - Albert Einstein
This will also massively impact the quality of your work, and likely the amount you’re willing to do.
Treat yourself well; and not just your body... your mind too.
Rest, time outside in nature, exercise, high quality nutrition, sunlight, periods where you have no stimulation (phone, TV, even friends); just following what YOU KNOW you should and need to do.
Note: More often than not we know what needs to be done, we’d just rather someone give us a specific/complex answer because we don’t want to do it.
3. Design your environment:
Two individuals could sit at a computer for 3 hours, one could do 2hrs 30 of productive work, whilst the other could do 1hr 30.
(assuming two equal individuals with the same attention span)
The second individual might have just had their phone at their desk, that’s it.
That can literally be all it takes.
The environment of your work space, your fridge, your room, your kitchen, your car, your wardrobe, is the simplest and most effective way to change your actions.
Put the things that add to your life in sight and in mind, and those things that don't serve you, either get rid of them or moderate them.
You have to see yourself as the architect of your life, designing it to create an environment that lets you be your best.