We all want to reach the elusive goal of working smarter, not harder. No matter the lofty claims of the latest productivity gurus, we at Zebra 360 Online Marketing know that a great workday comes down to a little planning ahead and a lot of understanding of the human condition. That’s why today we’re bringing you 5 simple, easy-to-implement tips that will turn you into a lean, mean (smart) working machine before you know it!

1.  Less is more

It’s difficult to believe in a world that pushes constant business on you at every turn (and makes you feel a failure if you don’t keep up)- but multitasking really isn’t the smartest way to work. An increasing body of scientific evidence suggests excessive multi-tasking simply results in your doing a lot of things poorly, in fact. So take the time to sit down and work out what really matters each day, and work towards those ‘high impact, big reward’ goals first. The smaller goals will still be there tomorrow. It’s not failure- it’s common sense.

2. Start with the hardest task

Sure, you probably don’t want to… but getting the most difficult work out of the way early in the day means you focus your prime brain function on the matter. You’ll also feel more motivated to tackle other goals once the one you’re dreading is out of the way.

3. Know when to ask for help

It’s another thing we’re discouraged from doing in a modern generation that makes us all believe we have to be supermen and superwomen. We aren’t. We’re all just human- and knowing when to delegate a task is the sign of a smart worker with a balanced approach to their workload, not someone who can’t keep up. Rather than trying to keep all your balls in the air at once, pass a few of them out and spread the load. You’ll be happier, healthier and more productive for it.

4. Build in quiet time

The human brain wasn’t designed to work in a never-ending churn through the day. In fact, science suggests the optimum period for concentration is about 15 minutes, slowly fading in efficiency for about an hour before we become spacey. Harness this power of focused concentration by placing the most important goal of the hour directly in your sights, then working on lesser, easier parts of the goal, and taking a quick 10 minute break to refresh your mind every hour. That doesn’t mean reading emails or looking at FaceBook, either! Stand up, take a few deep breaths to bring fresh oxygen to the brain, take a walk to get the blood flowing, and allow a few minutes of mindfulness to reset your stress levels. You’ll feel like you’re looking at the next task with a whole new brain.

5. Accept that sometimes you are just blah

In fact, you can use your ‘blah’ moments very effectively to make yourself more productive! Unless you have a looming deadline and no wriggle-room in the schedule, don’t try and force yourself to work through a hard task when you simply aren’t up to it mentally. All you’ll get is frustration and lacklustre results. Rather take your attention away from the ‘meaty’ stuff, and get stuck into a dull-but-essential task (like sorting your inbox) that your mental faculties are up to. You’ll be able to come back swinging on a better day- and you still won’t have wasted a minute of today, either!

Streamlining your day, and working smarter rather than harder, comes from knowing how to manage your time, your mind and your moods to achieve your goals. With these 5 key tips for streamlining your workday under your belt, you’ll be working like a business maverick soon. Do you have a tip to help boost productivity and keep you focused? The Zebra 360 Online Marketing team look forward to hearing about it!