I’m going to list a few of my uncommon work habits:
1. Prep Before Bed
I know that whatever I focus on right before I go to sleep, I’m going to be thinking about as soon as I wake up—usually.
To make the most of my morning, I make sure to prep myself the night before. As soon as I wake up, I know where I’m going to start, I know what project I’m diving into, I know which problem I’m going to be tackling first. If you can set these firmly in your mind before you go to bed, you’ll wake up with far more energy and drive to tackle them—because they’ve been marinating in your subconscious.
2. The Coffee Game
Whenever I have to get a lot done, and I mean a LOT, I reward myself with coffee. Coffee coffee coffee. But only if I can move with the momentum.
For example, I might start with a small cup right as I’m sitting down to work, but I will only allow myself refills as long as I feel I am making steady progress. By gamifying my love for coffee, I’m motivating myself to work harder and more efficiently in a desire to drink more coffee. And of course, the more coffee I drink, the more focused I become. More focus, more productivity.
This might be less of a work habit and more of an addiction but it works well for me.
3. Make Time For Mania
You aren’t going to be able to do multiple big projects back to back to back. You’re just not. It’s one thing to demand 7 hours of focus on the same project, but the difficulty usually arises when you have to go in and out of different problems, different projects, different clients, etc.
Make time between each project to clear your head—in my case, I thoroughly enjoy running around my apartment debating (sometimes with myself) the ramifications for having pancakes for dinner for the third night in a row. I often times get my roommates involved, encouraging them to debate me on the topic (as loudly as possible). Maybe we decide to make fruit smoothies. Maybe it’s snowing outside and snowballs must be thrown at the window. I don’t know. Just go do something random and pointless and fun and I promise you when you sit back down at your desk you’ll feel like you gave yourself a nice break and it’s time to get back to work.
4. Tell Yourself You Have Way More Time Than You Actually Do
There have been many times when I’ve been so busy I didn’t have a free hour to call my own, and I felt like I was on vacation. And there have been times when I haven’t really been all that busy and I’ve felt like I was being enlisted in the coal mines and I wouldn’t see my family for the next 20 years.
It’s all state of mind.
The more you tell yourself “I’m so busy, I don’t have any time,” the more you trap yourself in that mindset. Conversely, the more you tell yourself “Sure, I can make time for that,” the more time you actually have. And if you feel like you have no time, you get stressed and your work suffers and/or takes longer.
Trust me, you always have more time than you think you have. The hard part is remembering that.
5. Work Smarter By Hiring Smarter
I feel like this is the most obvious one, but one that is often forgotten. If you want to get something done faster or better, then ENLIST THE HELP OF SOMEONE BETTER THAN YOU.
If it takes you 3 hours to do X, and you value your time at $Y, then find someone who can do X in less than 3 hours at a $Y rate below yours.
The single best way to work smarter instead of harder is to value your time and delegate/outsource anything and everything that you don’t absolutely have to do yourself, that can be done by someone else—especially someone better at it than you.
This question originally appeared on Quora: What are some uncommon ways to work smarter instead of harder?
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