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Simple Ways for Working Smarter Every Day

A friend of mine recently decided to quit his job in the city.  His office was big.  His title was impressive.  His salary was more than enough for him and his family to live on.

What led to his leaving his cozy job?

It wasn't the money nor the responsibilities he had at work.  Rather, it was the soul-sucking nature of living in the burbs and dragging his butt into the city each and every day.

He had had enough.  He hated the commute.  He hated the lack of trees in the city.  He hated the daily obsession with "beating the traffic" to get out of the city.  His workplace was a hotbed of interruption and BS.  After prayer and more than a few long talks with his wife, he decided he was going to leave and pursue something very different.  

He hasn't looked back since.

Jealous?  I was when I first heard and then, with a smile, I congratulated him and admired his bravery.  This guy has guts.

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What Steve realized, long before he quit his job, was that he wasn't actually getting getting that much work done when he was at work.  This led him to resent his job and feel as if there had to be a smarter way to work.

Be honest- how much work do you get done when you're at work?  

I suspect that, if your job is anything like Steve's was, your day is full of any of the following time thieves:

  • commuting to and from work (30-90 minutes)
  • meetings (30-60 minutes)
  • chit-chat (15-30 minutes)
  • lunch (30-60 minutes)

A worse-case scenario could rob you of 150 minutes of your day- that's over two hours!  Add it up and you could be losing over eight hours a week or one full workday- not good.  Tack on to the lost time of 150 minutes is the hard-to-measure moments that evaporated due to distractions and being interrupted.  

That's not ok.

It's exactly why my friend Steve decided that he had had enough.  He's now doing work that allows him to focus, enjoy fewer meetings and work to his strengths.  

If you're tired of these time thieves (as I am!), I suggest the following as an antidote to the problems of the modern workplace:

  1. Attend as few meetings as possible.
  2. Cultivate time, each day, to think deeply and focus, without interruption.  
  3. Find quiet spaces during the day to do work.  
  4. Create a personal workspace that you enjoy and look forward to.
  5. Have as short a commute as possible.
  6. Explore the possibility of working from home, 1-2 days per week.

I'm not saying that it's that simple.  But, it kind of is.  All it takes is a bit of courage and a sense that you're fed up with a work day that keeps you from actually doing your work.

Try any one of these six action-steps this coming week and let me know which one makes a difference in your time management and work.  I'd love to hear from you!