7 ways to work smarter

Tis the season for bold crystal ball forecasts and ambitious self-improvement resolutions. We’ll be getting to the crystal ball in the days ahead, but first, let’s talk about doing things a little differently in the year ahead. Specifically: how can we work smarter? How can we work better together?

Those are questions that have helped inspire iMeet Central from the beginning – and it’s not just a concern that surfaces when it’s time to write out resolutions. “Work smart” and “smart work” are two consistently high-ranking search phrases for this blog. If you’re rubbing your temples and thinking “There’s got to be a better way to do this,” you are probably right.

There are 100 general things you can do to help your efficiency and productivity. Get your rest. Balance work with play. Delegate. Organize. Prioritize. Stretch. Those are all good ideas. Let’s focus on some specific tips.

Smarter collaboration

Technology is seldom a cure-all, but when you marry the right solution with a committed team, it can have a transformative effect on the way you work. Part of what drew me to iMeet Central – both as an employee and as a user – was that I’d experienced a lot of these time-wasting headaches myself: struggling to manage communication with a dispersed team, realizing 18 coworkers were using 18 different versions of the same document, manually jumping through hoops every time I needed sign-off on a project, etc. There’s a better way. Curious about how we’re solving these problems? Try iMeet Central for free.

Don’t play chicken at the end of the day

Someone once told me “Never leave the office before your boss.” This immediately struck me as bad advice, both as someone with a boss and as someone who had direct reports himself. If the only way your boss is gauging your job performance is by noting that you are still physically planted at your desk at 7pm every night, you probably have bigger problems. Don’t get into a situation where you’ve done everything on your daily To-Do list but absently sift through Outlook or click around Facebook at 6:18 because your cubicle-mate is still working. That doesn’t help anyone – especially if your cubicle-mate is doing the same thing.

Take your tasks out of your inbox

Old-fashioned “time savers” like email filters just aren’t helping. As Behance’s Scott Belsky writes: “An inbox full of email – even well-filed emails – still forces you to dig through every communication to find the hidden task. Tasks to be completed, or “Action Steps,” should have a management system of their own.”

Make an effort to understand your teammates

Our Collaborators quiz isn’t scientific, but it was designed to be more than just a fun exercise.  You can save a lot of time and frustration by taking stock of your surroundings and adapting to the different personalities and skill sets you encounter.

Don’t be a hero – or Patient Zero

Look, I get it. There’s still a part of me that wants to prove my manly-man-manliness by not having “sick day” in my vocabulary. But something clicked when I put my daughter in daycare. When parents ignore the evidence and send their sick kids to daycare to cough all over my kid, I start ranting like a dying Mercutio (“a plague on both your houses!”). Your coworkers are probably doing the same thing when they see you bravely stationed at your desk with your rapidly-depleting Kleenex box and gallon of hot tea. 80% of office workers come to work even when they know they’re sick. It’s a brutal chain reaction. Take the day off – or figure out a way to work from the germ-infested comfort of home. Speaking of germs: that spot on your desk where your hand is resting right now? 10 million bacteria. Give or take.

Read a book and challenge your assumptions

We’re learning more and more about the way we make decisions. The mainstream success of Malcolm Gladwell has helped weightier studies receive more attention; my favorite from the past year or so is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. It’s a dense but worthy read – and can help you identify the hidden biases that influence your daily decision-making. Science!

Love your devices, but don’t sleep with them

In the Dark Ages before cell phones, I would occasionally read a book while walking. In other words, I’m a trendsetter in the field of multitasking and ridiculous distractions, and I’m probably a giant hypocrite for telling you to be present and to stop playing Temple Run as a nightcap because it’s wreaking havoc on your melatonin levels. But be present in the moment – and be nice to your melatonin. 24/7 connectivity should be empowering, not enslaving.

Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.

3 Responses to 7 ways to work smarter

  1. Great suggestions! And, for the record, I am personally appreciative that you worked from home that day you were sick (using the magic of cloud-based collaboration, of course!) rather than dragging yourself in to contribute to that little petri dish of 10 million bacteria you’re cultivating on your desk right now. 🙂

  2. Adam McKibbin

    Thanks, Erin! I’m in some good company there. I have to remind myself of that point pretty frequently. Wishing you all the best for 2013. (And Linda – I shall try to keep myself quarantined on sick days in the year to come!)

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