Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

(Suzanne Tucker/iStockphoto)
(Suzanne Tucker/iStockphoto)

Ask an Expert

How can I work 'smarter' rather than 'harder'? Add to ...

I am so bogged down in the minutiae of day-to-day work that I find it hard to focus on the larger, strategic picture. Delegating is not really an option because everyone on my team is overworked. How do I figure out what to drop so that I don't lose sight of the forest for the trees?



Rest assured you are not alone with this problem. Many people get so wrapped up in their work and lives that they forget to take a breather to figure out what is important for the business and themselves. When people get bogged down they lose perspective. There are some key steps that you will want to try to implement:

Take regular breaks. You want to work smarter not harder. You want to take a break to get your bearings and breathe deeply every 45 to 60 minutes. Stop and step back from what you are doing. Take five to six deep breaths to get grounded and centred. This will allow you to clear your mind and focus more broadly.

Look at the big picture. Review the vision, mission and the strategic plan and operational plan for your company or business. Remind yourself what the key values for the business are. Ask your boss and senior leaders what they see as the company’s priorities? Compare this to your division’s current status. What do you need to focus on in your daily activities to get back on track?

Next, take a look at your 'to do' or action list. Ask yourself how do these tasks relate to the key strategies for the organization’s success? Go through your list and look for common themes. Put those items together. Then prioritize the list in order of importance in relation to the key strategies for the success of the business.

For example, list items as critical, key, important, not important now or not important at all. Dump the unimportant items off your list and delegate the items you can to your staff and other colleagues. (Don’t assume just because you think that staff or others are overworked that they will not be able to take something on if you ask them for help or to address the items when they can.)

Continue to refine your list as you prioritize and delegate items. Remember to cross items off your list when they are done or when you have decided they are not a priority or you have given them to someone else to deal with.

Take time each day and week to reflect on your progress and its relation to the overall strategy for your organization/business. Celebrate getting things done and your progress. Be discerning about what you are going to add to your action list. Continue to update and prioritize your list each day.

Remember: In order to see the forest for the trees and to see the progress you are making in achieving your company’s strategic success, you need to regularly step back, reflect and get clear on where you are and what is important to the company and to you. This will clarify your actions and lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

Do you have a question on careers, labour law or management? Send it in to our panel of experts, which includes career coaches, a recruitment expert and an employment lawyer: careerquestion@globeandmail.com

Please be advised that while The Globe and Mail may publish your submission, your name and address will be kept confidential.

 

In the know

Most popular videos »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular