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You’ve heard it already: to get ahead in business, you need to work smarter, not harder. It’s a nugget of wisdom that applies to any area of life, but it’s become such a cliche that the idea behind the saying needs revisiting. At the end of the day, working hard isn’t what delivers your results. What matters is your efficacy, which is your ability to do work that yields your intended results.

Easier said than done? Well, here are 10 simple ways to hone your work skills you can start implementing today. These tips will help you better leverage your time and resources to get more results from the work you put in.

1. Stay Motivated

To achieve any goal, you need to pursue it consistently. Long-term goals require enduring motivation to stay in the game long enough to reap the rewards of your work. When you aren’t getting instant gratification for the efforts you put in toward a long-term goal, it’s important you create your own rewards that keep you motivated. Reward yourself in a way that recharges your batteries and brings balance to your life, to help you avoid burnout.

2. Manage Your Stress

Stress is something everyone deals with, but those who manage it effectively prevent it from sabotaging their success. A build-up of stress can lead to health issues and emotional dysfunction, both of which put a stint in your productivity. That’s why it’s well worth your while to invest some time each day to relieving stress. Getting a workout in, taking a yoga class, engaging in a creative hobby or taking a walk in nature are some great ways to unplug and lower stress levels.

3. Know Your Priorities

Know your priorities on a day-to-day level and the bigger picture, too. Before you create to-do lists or mark events in your calendar, ensure everything you plan to devote time to makes sense based on your priorities. Plus, you can pinpoint what’s not important on your task list and eliminate it.

4. Fine-Tune Your Routine

Establishing routine is a key aspect managing both your time and stress levels. When you know what to expect and you have systems for regular tasks, your day-to-day schedule can run like a well-oiled machine. Be sure to include breaks in your daily routine that help you relieve stress. Once you have a routine, tweak it until you find what works best for keeping your motivation and productivity high.

5. Leverage Technology

These days, there’s an app or other platform for virtually any aspect of your life that needs organization. Be sure to find the tools that work for you, which might include scheduling, automating tedious tasks and project management.

6. Measure Your Results

It’s not enough to measure the time you put into your work, because it’s not necessarily a direct correlation to the results you get. Instead, collect data that measures the results of your work, so you can truly monitor your productivity. You should still measure your time worked, but make sure you’re attaching a dollar value to your hours worked. Time tracking and project management software can help you keep track. You can also keep track of output per specific time periods. For example, you wrote X blog posts in a month or make Y sales in a week. This keeps you focused and motivated on your goals and allows you to identify problem areas in your workflow.

7. Avoid Multitasking

When you’re juggling so many tasks, it’s tempting to try and multitask all the time. However, doing tasks one at a time increase your productivity and reduces the stress that builds up when you’re doing too much at once. Research shows that multitasking is really just “switch-tasking,” and that switching between tasks only interrupts you and takes away from your time spent accomplishing them.

8. Eliminate Distractions and Simplify Your Life

As a professional, you have a lot on your plate, so try to simplify or automate tasks in your life as much as possible. For example, you could hire someone to help you with cleaning, or you could order groceries online for pick-up or delivery instead of taking the time to shop. When you’re working, stay on task by eliminating distractions like social media and Internet browsing.

9. Have a Ritual that Shifts You into Work Mode

It’s easy for your productivity level to drop when you’re shifting gears between work and other aspects of life. To kick your brain into work-mode faster when it’s time to work, have a habitual way of getting started. A ritual you consistently use, like burning a candle at your desk or having a cup of coffee at your side can train your brain get right into the rhythm of working.

10. Squeeze in a Few Minutes to Meditate Daily

Meditation allows you to hit the “reset” button at the end of the day so you can stay balanced and relax. If you never take time to unwind, you won’t be productive in the long term. Meditation is proven to promote relaxation and mindfulness and lower your risk of anxiety and depression. It’s even shown to boost your IQ. While it’s tempting to have a glass of wine in front of the television at the end of the day, meditation is a way to unwind that provides benefits extending far beyond the momentary feeling.

Improving Your Habits and Tweaking Your Routines

At the end of the day, professional success comes down to your everyday habits and routines. The little things that keep you sane also play a role. Try these productivity hacks and continually tweak your strategies based on what works for you.

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