“What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”
There’s something fundamentally wrong with that phrase: the assumption that we can stop just before the “kill us” part happens and come out stronger on the other side. But as human beings, we’re not built like that. We have to slam face first into that brick wall before we know where it is. This is a disturbing thought for professionals who need to be at the top of their game at all times.
So what can you do about it?1. Facilitate Your Repetitive Tasks
As the contact for a database of clients, you’re emailed lots of the same questions multiple times (be it from the same and/or different people). Cut out some wasted time from typing all those responses over and over, and save pre-written responses as drafts. A little tweaking and personalization, and you’re good to go.
2. Celebrate Later
You’ve just won a new client, or made a great sales call - congrats! But don’t reward yourself with a break just yet. Now that you have a success in the books for the day, use that burst of happiness to keep going. You’ll be amazed what you can get done when you’re in a great mood.
3. Single Task
So much value is put in multitasking, but sooner or later your brain won’t be able to switch fast enough and a mistake will be made. Switching between tasks too much will dilute your focus and slow you down. Not all tasks in the day will be in your control, but try to plan out your day by grouping similar tasks together. For example, scheduling times to check your email for 20 minutes every other hour, or blocking two hours in the morning to complete your follow-up or prospecting phone calls.
4. Use Your Morning
Even non-morning people like me can adopt this idea. Dan Ariely, behavioral scientist and professor at Duke, says that the most productive time in our day happens in a two-hour window. This window occurs about two hours after we wake up for the day. So, try to get consistent. If you set your alarm and get up every morning at 7am, then your best time of day will be from 9am to 11am. To make best use of this time, complete your least favorite tasks here. You’ll find that they’ll go by much easier than if you try to do them during the afternoon slump.
Bonus: Save your morning caffeine for the beginning of this two-hour window to give yourself an extra strap-on-your-jetpack boost.
Are you paying attention? I saved the best for last:
5. Find Your Extra Half Hour
This one will set you apart from your competitors. Add in an extra half hour of work every day. In the morning before you leave your house, during lunch, or in the evening, it doesn’t matter. It will give you the chance to follow up with things you were too busy to do earlier, or continue work on perfecting your sales pitch, or pull the analytics from your website or social page, or anything else - you name it! Whatever it is, it will improve your odds of closing the sale and creating a better relationship with your client.
Bonus: These extra half hours will add up. One half hour a day every single day becomes three and a half hours a week, about 15 hours a month, and about 180 hours a year! An extra 180 hours a year spent developing your skills? That’s amazing!
So let’s save some sanity, stay away from that brick wall, and be all the more efficient for it. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger? I don’t think so. Let’s change this idea to something a little more realistic, if not way less catchy:
What makes us most efficient makes us stronger.