It is not those who work the hardest who succeed the most; it’s those who work smart first and hard second who succeed the most.

To work smart you have to be working on the right things. So you have to start with a plan; a plan to define what it is that you’re trying to accomplish.

After planning, besides focusing on your strengths, practicing the 80/20 rule, eliminating, delegating, and automating as much as possible, and focusing on one thing at a time, there are a few more things you can do:

  • You can always work with urgency by remembering that your time is very limited; remembering that you’re going to die (sounds weird, but it works).
  • You can work on Airplane Mode or with your devices turned off, so that you’re not interrupted (let people know your schedule).
  • You can break your work into small pieces that you can tackle easily day by day, instead of being overwhelmed by the whole thing at once.
  • You can get the ball rolling and just do what you can at the time; over time, little by little, your work will suddenly be complete.
  • You can work in batches, doing similar tasks all at once. For example, one day you might work on all the images of your project. Batching will also give you the continuous practice you need to sharpen your skills.
  • You can work on the hardest tasks in the hours when your willpower is the highest, and on the easiest tasks when your willpower is the lowest.
  • You can force yourself into an environment where there is nothing else to do, but work, or an environment that inspires your best work.
  • You can play a looped song while you work. For this method I use instrumentals and avoid songs that trigger memories and negative patterns.
  • You can tap into your current emotional state. If you’re feeling depressed, try tapping into that energy and transform it into work.
  • You can work in time intervals using the Pomodoro Technique, where you focus for 25 minutes with 5-minute breaks, for as many times as you can; there are many Pomodoro apps and add-ons for all platforms.
  • Lastly, be aware of Parkinson’s Law, which states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, if you have a week to do something, you’ll probably take the whole week to do it. Be aware of it and fight against this bias by working with focus and urgency.

Work smart by planning well, by working effectively, and by working hard.

Well begun is half done. ― Aristotle

Plan your work and work your plan. ― Napoleon Hill

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