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As the New Year starts, people tend to make resolutions. The resolutions range from spending less to eating less, from making more money to making more time to exercise. According to Health.com on January 1st, one in three Americans will vow to make changes to improve their lives. Unfortunately, it is also true that by the end of the month more than 50% of those people will have lost sight of their goal.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make a New Year’s resolution, it just means that you may want to make one that has a better chance of success. 

Did you know that the 2nd Monday in January of each year is National Clean Off Your Desk Day? The theory is that having your work space uncluttered and organized will help you work more effectively and give you a greater sense of serenity.

This got me to thinking about the concept of working smarter, not harder and I decided that would be a good resolution for 2015. I agree with Hannah Fraser at GetSimplifyd who said, “There’s a misconception that being busy means you’re being productive. Going from task to task in a robotic fashion may be keeping you occupied but it won’t rate you high on the productivity scale.” If you evaluate your work day you will probably find that a large portion of your time is spent on menial and time consuming tasks. In order to work smarter, we need to collectively rethink how we approach our daily workload

Below are a few tips that you can try:

  1. Get organized — although you can make strides about organizing your desk, your email, and your time, it is important to realize that getting organized is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. Still, the beginning of a new year is a good time to look at the tools you use to organize your life and see if there are ways you can make things better says Audrey Cupo, a professional organizer. “There are many aspects to getting and staying organized,” Cupo says. “The first step is to eliminate the clutter, and then organize what’s left.”
  2. Create a routine — although you need flexibility to respond to changing priorities at work, you can simplify and structure your day to reduce the chaos. Without a routine, we tend to be at the mercy of every request that comes our way. We are at the beck and call of every person who wants our time and every website that wants our attention. That’s not a good thing, not if you want to get the important things done. Leo Babauta talking about Zen habits suggests: Don’t schedule every minute of your day, but have a morning routine and an end-of-the-day routine. Leave the middle of the day (the biggest portion of the day) open for completing your most important tasks and other things that come up.
  3. Work in blocks of time — Are you often distracted from the task at hand? One way to stop yourself from losing focus or constantly switching between tasks is to schedule work in blocks of time. Proponents of time blocking believe that the more you can exclusively focus on one project at a time, you will not only increase your efficiency but the very nature of this type of schedule has the added benefits of reducing stress and helping you be more mentally prepared.

As Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying “the new year is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us”. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right by working smarter, not harder.
 

Deborah Fernandez

Deborah Fernandez is president a consulting firm that enables corporations and individuals to achieve enhanced performance.

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