Take a Dip Into These Smarter Working Tips

Don't work harder, work smarter. Easy to say, but where do you begin? Business skills trainer Graham Roberts-Phelps provides a pot-pourri of time-management thoughts, tips, tricks and techniques

We're busy. We're short on time. We wish there were more hours in the day, the week, the month, the quarter. We wonder when we will ever get round to the things we really want to do and achieve: in our role, our career, our life.

The thing is, despite advances in technology, we still can't go online and buy more time. We can only make time. The following time-served, time-management thoughts and tips will help you do this. If you can find just a few minutes now, and put into practise just a few of these tips, you should easily be able to create a few valuable extra hours each and every week. Use them as you wish, but use them wisely!

  1. There is always time, but not enough of it. Time is a priority. Success is a goal, everything else is detail and distraction. You can only control what to do now and next. Behaviours have consequences. You cannot change the consequences, but you can change your behaviours, thoughts and reactions, if you learn how.
  2. Be realistic with your time. Only plan for four hours of real work a day. Real work is activity which moves you towards your goals and objectives, produces results you are tasked to achieve, and uses your best skills, talents and abilities.
  3. It's normal to have days where you just can't work and days where you'll work twelve hours straight. Work more when you are in the zone. Don't be hard on yourself when you're not.
  4. Imagine your time is worth £1000 an hour and you need to act accordingly. Respect your time and make it respected. Swap the word 'time' for 'life' and see what happens.
  5. Stop multi-tasking. It simply kills your focus, drains your energy and weakens your resolve. This includes distractions, noise, your mobile phone, and interruptions.
  6. Set up a work routine and stick to it. Your friends, family and body will adapt. Make sure this uses your top three talents, as well as things you are naturally good at, as much as possible.
  7. Work is the best way to get working. Start with short tasks to get the ball rolling. If you feel overwhelmed, do something, anything, no matter how small to make a start. The pessimism of the thought is trumped by the optimism of the action.
  8. Doing is better than perfect. Work iteratively. Expectations to do things perfectly are stifling. Perfectionism is a crippling form of procrastination.
  9. More work hours doesn't mean more productivity. Use constraints as opportunities. Balance, as in work-life balance, is possible but not easy. It takes commitment and constant reinforcement.
  10. Separate thinking and execution to execute faster and think better. Separate brainless and strategic tasks to become more productive. Plan well, execute better. Time spent planning or discussing improvements is productive.
  11. Organise meetings early during the day. Time leading up to an event is often wasted. Do the most important (high pay-off) tasks first in your day. Do things you dislike first. Eat the 'ugly frog'.
  12. A single meeting can lose you a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. It is best to group meetings and communication (email or phone) to create blocks of uninterrupted work in between.
  13. Keep the same context throughout the day. Switching between clients / projects is unproductive. Don't be a pinball or a butterfly.
  14. Work around and through procrastination. Procrastinate between intense sprints of work (Pomodoro technique). Using a timer, work solidly and without deviation or interruption for twenty-five minutes. Take a short break. Get a drink, check in with colleagues, emails, etc. Repeat. After four sessions, take a longer break.
  15. Break the unreasonable down into little reasonable chunks. A big goal is only achieved when every little thing that you do every day, gets you closer to that goal. Resist instant gratification and doing what is easy, pleasurable, or safe. Practice delayed gratification and it will strengthen like a muscle.
  16. Maintain an active social life, get promoted and make money, spend time with your family, keep fit, sleep, play on social media hourly. Pick three. You can only do three in one day.


Graham Roberts-Phelps; managing director and founder of training consultancy Brilliant Customer Service. Brilliant Customer Service