Outside the Box

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I’m sitting at my desk after pulling another all-nighter working on a last-minute deadline for a project. And before you ask let me tell you, I don’t like it. 

Late Nights

I’m not opposed to hard work, in fact, many would say I work a bit too much. And I love working late at night and early (wicked early) in the morning. There’s something relaxing and exciting about being up when the rest of the house is dark and quiet. It’s peaceful…well, it’s peaceful if there’s not a last minute deadline that you’re cramming to finish your work for. 

As I was wracking my brain with a problem I couldn’t seem to solve and had spent several hours working on it I realized something. It’s not about working harder, but working smarter. I know, I know it’s a very well-known saying and most of the time I do a great job of getting the right amount of sleep and thinking before writing, but sometimes I don’t realize until it’s too late. So what exactly does it mean to work smarter? 

Working smarter means being willing to think outside the box.

When presented with a problem don’t blindly accept a given solution; especially if you find yourself spending hours and hours running in circles without a getting the work done. Thinking outside the box means finding alternative solutions to the problem. If something’s not working and you’ve exhausted your resources, take a minute (doesn’t have to be long), take a deep breath, and take a fresh look at the problem. Look for alternate solutions which you’ve not explored. It may mean a short term expenditure of time, but long-term you could see massive time savings. 

Working smarter also means prioritizing tasks.

Don’t get stuck fighting with a minor problem when you could make great strides forward by focusing on a different part of the job. When you pick your tasks correctly you’ll find you personally feel better because you’ll make progress. Yes, it’s a mind game you’re playing with yourself. But it’s ok, the result is positive. I know it helps me to make progress on things in any form. So moving to a different task which I can quickly complete helps keep me motivated and energized.

Working smarter means sharing responsibility.

Don’t do it all yourself. If you’re anything like me then you struggle constantly with the feeling that you should be the one doing the work because you know it best. But trust me, from personal experience I’ve learned a couple of things. First, I don’t know best all the time. Second, you should take advantage of the skills of others and allow them to succeed at those things they know how to do. Many hands make light work and working as team will accomplish much more than you could ever get done by yourself.

So, where does this article come from? It comes from a long night of hard work where I look back and start to wonder if I’ve been working harder or working smarter. I’m pretty sure this time around I’ve worked too hard and not smart enough. I spent some time doing my research today and have found better ways I could have worked. So this is a lecture to myself as much as it is advice for anyone else. I’ll leave you this time with a quote from a somewhat funny old television show quote.

I’m pullin’ for ya. We’re all in this together.
Red, The RedGreen Show