work smarter, get more done

Ted Pollock, contributing editor

Heard of the street peddler who told a friend about how tough things had gotten? In an effort to cut down on expenses, he had begun feeding his horse fewer oats each day. For a while, things looked up.

“Then,” he lamented, “just when I had that horse trained to eat nothing at all, he died!”

Working yourself to death is not the path to increased productivity.

The real trick to improving your output is not to work harder, but to work more intelligently. Any one of the following techniques could increase your personal productivity.

“- arrange your work to dispose of those things that can be handled promptly. The remaining projects will appear less formidable if your work pile no longer looks like an unconquerable mountain. Simple psychology.

“- concentrate on the tough or unpleasant jobs. Get them out of the way while you are relatively fresh. Don’t invite discouragement by letting them accumulate.

“- if a problem has you stymied, stop wrestling with it. Put it aside and come back to it when your mood and mind have improved. Be careful, of course, not to postpone it indefinitely.

“- keep work on top of your desk, where it will haunt you. It will stand a better chance of getting done. Burying work keeps it out of sight and away from completion.

“- develop shortcuts wherever possible. For instance, reply to a memo at the bottom of the memo page instead of dictating a formal answer. It will save both time and money.

“- make your decisions quickly. “I’ll let you know later” only means that investigating a situation or listening to a problem must be repeated when the decision is finally made. However, the job is done and out of the way, if a decision is made right away.

Take time to communicate with others who may be interested or involved with you in a project. A few minutes spent at the start to explain something can save endless hours later by preventing misunderstandings or fuzzy instructions.

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