Working Smarter so you can Play Longer

Work SmarterI’m frequently asked how I can work as much as I do online (teach, consult, write books, blog, and stay active on social media) and have as much time as I do to travel. Because the online work is the means by which I get to travel, I make sure that I am productive in my every day actions. Working smarter is the first step in being able to play longer. And I don’t know about you, but I want to play longer. Travel longer. Take more pictures. Meet interesting people. Here are some of my top tips for making it possible in my own life.

Prioritize.

It seems obvious, but too often we find ourselves doing things that are not critical to our family’s well-being or our own goal achievement. Create a personal mission statement – Who you are and what your purpose is. Create a vision statement – Who you want to become or where you want to be in 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years. When something comes along that does not align with your mission and vision statement, you can turn it down or decide to change those two things. Often you will find that turning it down is the better (and easier!) of the two options.

Delegate.

Share your load with your family. I have discovered that they also cannot read my mind, so I have a white board in the kitchen with tasks that need to get completed. I intentionally ask them to get done. Delegating also means you release control. If you ask your teenager to do their own laundry you can’t turn around and complain when they don’t fold as well as you do. Finally, delegating gives them a sense of ownership in what it takes to keep the family going. Work in bursts. I’m more creative at certain times of the day, so I find that I can push out a ton of content at those times. When I’m tired, my typing slows way down, my accuracy drops, and this is a signal that I need to stop and go for a walk. Or go to sleep. Some folks have consistent energy from 9-5 and can play their days like that. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those individuals. Know thyself. Plan accordingly.

Daily Actions.

Not a surprising example since I have a book series on this topic. However, I am a firm believer in taking deliberate, intentional, daily actions to get work done, change a habit, or achieve a goal. My newest book – Work Smarter, Play Longer – is on taking daily actions to increase productivity. :-)

Use technology.

I love technology when it is relevant. Sometimes I think that we get off focus with our actions, though, by focusing on the latest gizmos. Therefore, remain focused on the task. Gradually try out different apps and programs to see if they fit in your lifestyle. My technology favorites include Evernote for gathering together my files, articles, to do lists, audio files, and more. I love TripIt for building automatic trip itineraries based on email confirmations for flights, hotels, rental cars, and more. I love HootSuite for helping me to manage my social media accounts (although I always post to my Facebook fan page by hand as that is what Facebook prefers). I love Scrivener for helping me in organizing my manuscripts. I love Pages and Keynote (the older versions) for their ease of use and beautiful output on text and presentation documents. I love Google calendar for organizing events and sending email reminders.

Check out my free productivity apps guide here.

Avoid perfectionism.

Perfectionists are far from productive. Oh sure, they may have all the trappings of productivity: the smart phone apps to schedule their day down to the last minute, the coolest technology to organize their work, or the strongest organizational skills to ensure that nothing, god forbid NOTHING, gets overlooked. But what’s really going on inside? Stress, high expectations of themselves and others, and anger that the outcomes of all their hard work doesn’t quite meet their standards. People around them don’t stand a chance. Let go of “all or nothing” thinking, “should, could, and ought” statements, and predicting the worst outcomes. Try making a mistake and letting yourself be human.

PrintRelax.

One of the most important things I can do is to schedule out my week and set aside times for ME. In order to be productive, we must have time to recharge by resting, engaging in activities we enjoy, and spending quality time with our loved ones. We can even mark it on our calendars. Treat it like an doctor’s appointment. Now when someone asks you to do something additional, you can assess your schedule based on everything in it – including your personal time – and give them an honest assessment when they can expect the task to be completed. Alternatively, you can decline special engagements, if needed, by telling colleagues or friends that you have a conflicting appointment. (You do! With yourself!) If you do not do this you run the risk of burning out, being less productive, and ultimately not achieving the goals you want to achieve.

Read more about my productivity tips in my Google+ community: edjourneys.com/productivity plus. Check out my Daily Actions series on Amazon, including my newest book in the series: Work Smarter, Play Longer.

Join my Facebook group on living a Laptop Lifestyle! You can talk travel, tips, and strategies. You can be a part of my posse that supports my new books as they go live, and share your content and products as well.

See you there! Slåinte! (gaelic for health, pronounced slahn-chə)

Tara Ross

Grab my free productivity apps guide, with over 60 apps reviewed, here:

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