Smart Work and Time Management are probably the two hottest topics of the 21st century. People talking about smart work, how it is better than hard work, and all that shit. Actually, if you look closely, time management skills and smart work are kinda complementary to each other or we can say two sides of the same coin. The guy who has imbibed and practices the time management skills diligently is already doing smart work and the one who is working smart in turn knows how to manage time.
Smart work is all about doing the right thing at the right time in the right way. If you are wasting your time away, doing meaningless, incoherent, and illogical stuff, then you are miles away from the vicinity of smart work. One can’t possibly work smart until one learns some serious time management skills. And once you can manage your time, smart work will follow.
So, if you are killing time right now, pretty soon it will be the time that will start killing you. And you don’t wanna be on that side of the table, trust me. Time once gone can’t be returned for any amount of money or success. But even after knowing all this elementary stuff, how many of us can honestly and sincerely come forth and say that “Yes, I am utilizing the complete 24hrs of my day to the best of my ability.”
Probably just a spoonful. We are already aware that we suck in time management skills because we prioritize today’s pleasure over tomorrow’s pain that is coming your way, today’s greed over tomorrow’s loss you are about to incur, today’s lust over tomorrow’s love you are gonna miss out on. And that’s not the definition of smart work from any angle.
Stop Thinking, Start Acting
Tell me if I am wrong, but most of us spend an awful lot of time thinking about what to do with our time. One of my friends, spends hours making a timetable to manage his time to work smartly, only to later realize that he has no time left anymore or is ultimately not being able to keep up with his ‘high-expectations‘ timetable. We get so wired up and caught up with our own plans that we blow our minds with complexities, sophistication, and fantasies. To put it in a sentence, we think more, we do less. And most of the time we get tangled up in our own thought process.
The more time you spend just thinking about your time, the more options your human mind keeps on bombarding you with—“Should I do it now?”, “Maybe tomorrow is better?”, “This task requires more time”, “That thing is making me waste a ton of time”, and this thought process keeps on drifting till eternity.
At the end of the day, we are left with nothing but an incomplete and failed timetable. So, if you think calmly you can actually rewind your branches of thoughts, and see where they actually originated from. Whenever you feel like you are getting overwhelmed with the incoming stream of never-ending thoughts, immediately say, “PAUSE”. Now, patiently rewind them and see what made you start this thought process in the first place.
Initially, you might hit a wall, but once you practice this enough times, pretty soon you will not just be able to backtrace your thoughts but also be able to direct these thoughts in the direction you want. But, unfortunately, as of now, the thoughts are controlling us.
You see a friend’s bag in your Instagram feed which you are in an awe of, and before you know it, you are already looking for the same bag on Amazon only to find out that it’s way out of your budget. Then you all of a sudden jump to the financial aspect of your life, and start contemplating your career. Thinking about your career you can’t help but remember your old boss who fired you for your lack of interest and now you are wondering whether you should change your occupation—and this pointless and directionless flow of the river would keep on continuing, utterly wasting our time, until we do something about it.
So, you started off with Instagram and ended somewhere totally unexpected. That’s how we waste time and struggle to work smart. This chain of thoughts keeps on extending itself subconsciously, without your control and your approval which is killing you. But hey, if you can keep track of how you are surging ahead in your mind if you are aware of your mental activities, then not only can you pause this charade but you can also direct them to where it’s necessary—ultimately brushing off your time management skills leading to smart work.
Pause And Reflect
All you have to do is pause and question yourself, “What’s the most substantial thing in my life today, not 10 days from now or 10yrs from now?” This will immediately break that thought chain that was extending itself over and over again, your mind will come to a standstill and will allow you to focus on what’s right in front of you.
Whenever things seem to go downhill, our mind loses its shit and we get overwhelmed with it to such an extent that we are like, “Screw everything, I am done, I wanna get out of here and leave everything.” We are ready to throw everything down the drain at the heat of the moment. At moments like this, you have to remind yourself who’s the boss. Always remember that you are more powerful than your mind. You gotta learn to keep it under control because, without it, you can’t even think about smart work.
The mind has exploited you for so long, now it’s time to give your mind a taste of the same medicine. Anyone who says that your mind is more powerful than you is a schmuck. The problem is that, as of now, you are unknowingly using your mind on autopilot, according to your old habits and a previous set pattern. But once you start using it knowingly and consciously then that makes for one hell of a deadly combination.
The mind belongs to you, you don’t belong to your mind. So, this goes without saying but controlling your mind is the prerequisite to smart work and time management skills.
Question Your Mind
Questioning your mind at the right time kills your previously ongoing thought process. The right kind of questioning will amalgamate your rather distributed and uneven thought process and will streamline them to make them focus on the most important task today.
If you are a student, pause and ask yourself, “What’s the most important thing for me today?” STUDYING, I hope so? SO, once you get the answer, keep on reverberating this in your mind, “STUDYING is the most important thing for me today. I AM GONNA STUDY LIKE ANYTHING. Studying is what I am gonna focus on today, study and nothing else.” And before you know it, you will see your focus powers skyrocketing. No guyz, I am not shitting you. Self Talk works. It doesn’t matter how stupid and naive it may initially sound to you, give it some time and see for yourself.
That’s how you work smart. This will automatically enable you to manage your time as well because smart work in itself means working efficiently, and efficiency is inversely proportional to time. So, the more efficient you are, the less time it will take, and ultimately the more time you will be left with.
One can apply this particular methodology in any field, in every phase of his life. This is the best way to direct your thought process and maximize the output. I know it’s gonna look weird or even stupid to say stuff to yourself repeatedly, but don’t underestimate this kind of self-talk. It’s pretty powerful. The things we say to ourselves, the words we use while talking to our mind goes a long way in controlling it.
You gotta talk in the language your mind understands. If your mind says, “Leave everything, I don’t feel like doing it” immediately hit back, “I don’t care whether you feel like it or not, this shit is important, so get back to it, RIGHT THE HELL NOW!”
You don’t believe me? That’s alright, the least you can do is give it a try for a day and see if it bears any fruit. You don’t have anything to lose. The worst situation being you will make a momentary fool of yourself and nobody would even know about it, and well, there’s no limit to how good it can get. Such kind of risk-reward ratio is unheard of.
Works pretty well for me. Whenever my mind deviates to places it shouldn’t go, I take a pause, ask the pertinent question, “The Important thing for me right now?”, and get my answer—which is to ‘write’. So, I just keep on reverberating this over and over again, “write, write beautifully, you can write, you are an amazing writer, writing is your thing”, and voila my mind stops all its shenanigans and help me indulge in smart work, ultimately helping me to manage my time more efficiently.
You gotta set your priorities straight if you want this tactic to work. If you ask yourself what’s the most important thing for you today, and you don’t even know the answer to that question, then the most important thing for you today is to figure out what actually is the most important thing for you at this particular moment.
Eating Healthy is Directly Related to Smart Work
Now, I know you may not be expecting this and even wonder how on earth is eating healthily related to smart work? Well, it’s actually pretty simple, if our stomach isn’t happy, then the whole body becomes distressed, and you can forget about smart work totally when your health is in ruins.
You can very well apply the same above-mentioned trick while doing the mundane daily tasks as well. If you are eating, then eating is the most important thing for you to do, and all your attention should be concentrated there only, not on TV, not on your unending thoughts. When you don’t pay attention to your food, the food feels betrayed and as a result, it doesn’t digest itself for you because it is hurt due to your ignorant behavior. And undigested food can bring in a whole set of other problems.
Whenever your mood is off for no good reason, then that’s evident that it has got something to do with your gut. Our efficiency to do any work takes a massive hit consequently, resulting in unnecessary time waste. Eat healthily, give your undivided attention while eating and let your gut do its job to keep your body and mind healthy, which is kind of a prerequisite to doing any kind of work.
The person who can’t eat attentively is also likely to be incompetent to even think about his life the right way, let alone working smart or perfecting time management skills. Don’t underestimate the power of doing any activity with full concentration or attention, doesn’t matter how trivial it may seem. As once you learn how to do these small tasks with your full potential, you can apply the same when it comes to the big, substantial stuff in this game of life.
You are actually improving yourself, without you even knowing, in dimensions you didn’t know existed whenever you do any kind of job with total attentiveness. This willpower, of doing the right thing at the right time, isn’t gonna fall up from the sky right on your laps. One needs to practice this, a lot. That’s what it takes to actually practice smart work. Start with the smallest activities like eating, and once you master it, move on to bigger and more substantial ones.
Every moment is a choice for you, to either do the right thing or the wrong thing. Choosing to do the right thing and using your willpower to put in all your energy to do the right thing mellifluously is what will make you able and competent to work smart.
Embrace the Change
Whenever you try to take on something new or change your habits or alter your earlier pattern of living—your mind along with every inch of your body will revolt you in doing so. It will make you do the same old things in the exact same way you were doing them.
If you are used to eating junk food all the time, and you decide to bring about a change in your diet then your mind will try its level best to make you drop it, because mind detests change. It abhors deviating from its set path, which took months if not years to establish. That’s your mind stopping you from achieving greater heights in life, by pulling you down from doing the right work and stoving you into all kinds of wrong tasks.
Only intelligence can help you overcome the grasp of the mind. And working on your intelligence is the real smart work. Because if you elevate your intelligence, you control your mind; and when you control your mind, you have the ability to keep yourself from the wrong activities and indulge in the right ones.
And once you do that, then well, what is more left for you to do?
Making your mind your best friend with the help of intelligence is the real smart work. The mind doesn’t like to sit idle, so whenever it makes you do something that you know isn’t right for you, immediately say pause and repeat the thing I talked about earlier. This taking a pause and questioning is the real intelligence, and once you refuse your mind from doing something that isn’t right then the mind will automatically divert its attention and create new ways and paths of doing the right thing.
You can override your mind simply by repeating what you want to do. If the mind tells you to eat junk food, immediately pause and retort back, “No, I am gonna eat healthy food.” and keep on repeating it until the mind gives in, which it ultimately will, because hey, You are THE MASTER, remember? Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, not even your own mind. Reprimand it, caress it, bribe it, I don’t care what you do—but make sure your mind knows who’s the boss.
Once you master the small things, you will become stronger from the inside, so strong that you will also be able to crack the big tasks just as simply as the small ones.
It isn’t going to be a cakewalk though, you are gonna need a firm grip on yourself and an abundance of willpower to actually tell the mind what you want to do. The mind will show you a thousand reasons to give up, but you just need to stick to that one reason to let the mind listen to you. Now, if you think these are all just superficial stuff that has got nothing to do with reality, then nothing you read so far will matter. You gotta believe, not just for show but actually, that all of this is possible, that smart work isn’t rocket science, that managing time is easy.
Follow the Time Table, the Smart Way
We all have at least once in our life made one of these timetables, with the expectation that we will stick to it, and follow it come what may. But I guess most of us can agree that though we are a lot enthusiastic in the beginning, after a few days all the energy begins to wear out, and you throw the whole timetable down the gutter.
The problem is that somewhere deep down our subconscious we already think that “I will not be able to make it”, or “I will not be able to keep up with it just like last time”, or “I tried so many times in the past but to no avail” and so on. This isn’t helping you in any way.
So, you gotta replace them with phrases like, “I can very well follow it” or “I will give my level best in following the timetable even though I might probably fail.” The minute you acknowledge the fact that yes you can fail in it, then you are aligned with reality.
Let’s face it, saying that you will never fail is a trap in itself, a rather terrifying one. Because the minute you fail, you will give up altogether, because you never even entertained the possibility of failing. That’s not smart work. Success and failure are out of your bounds—there are just so many variables in the equation that you just can’t control all of them. So, the fact that you think you shouldn’t fail at all isn’t the most viable option for you to go with.
Say you were giving your best to follow your schedule but then suddenly out of nowhere, you had a family emergency because of which you will miss your schedule for a week. Now how hard it is gonna be for you to go back on track?
Well, if you were of the opinion that you shouldn’t have failed, then it’s gonna be awfully hard for you to bounce back as you never anticipated this permutation. But, if you already had expected something like this to happen, then it is gonna be relatively easier for you to hop back onto the schedule.
Choose Your Words Wisely
Smart work is about saying smart things to yourself. So if you’re saying that, “No matter how many times I will fall down, I have the power, courage, and wisdom to stand back up again” then it will make all the difference. I will say it again. Words that you say to yourself have a powerful impact on your psyche and your attitude. Don’t believe me? Thought so. So here’s what Bruce Lee has said about the same:
“Don’t speak negatively about yourself, even as a joke. Your body doesn’t know the difference. Words are energy and cast spells, that’s why it’s called spelling. ”
See, it wasn’t bullshit. Choose the words you say to yourself wisely, for they cast an invisible spell which conjures magic that has the ability to both break and make you. Smart work is all about making the right choice. Screw what the world says, you just have to say to yourself, “I have infinite powers, more than enough to tackle any problem come what may—I am bigger than everything” and yada yada.
Sometimes it’s the stupidest shit that makes the biggest difference in life. You might as well take it as a joke, but just see what happens when you keep saying things like this, or you can always go back to saying the meaningless, ridiculous, and nonsensical stuff you have been saying to yourself all your life.
Take it this way, if you are still unhappy or dissatisfied with your current life situations, then maybe it’s time for you to change. Smart work is about pivoting the right thing at the right time. Smart work is about focussing on what’s actually under your control, that is, yourself. You can’t control the people, the situations, the society, your boss, your parents—you can’t even control the things that are going to happen to you; all you can control is your reaction towards the circumstances.
‘You’ here comprises your body, your mind, your intelligence, and your soul. That’s what smart work is about, to figure out a way to have 100% control over these factors. Nobody can change you without your own permission.
You have a lot of problems in your life. The first possibility is that you can solve them all—this will make you as big as your problems. The bigger problem you solve, the bigger you evidently become.
The second possibility is that you are undermining yourself, and consequently failing to solve the underlying problems in life—this will make you even smaller than the problems in your life.
The third possibility is where you wholeheartedly accept the fact that whatever problems you have in your life, you are much much more enormous and colossal than all of them combined. This charts you on completely another level.
Most people either lay down their weapons and become petrified of the problems they see in their life(possibility 2) or limit themselves to be strong enough only as much their problems allow them to be(possibility 1). Only a handful of them is smart enough to choose possibility 3. Now, maybe it’s a lie, but if you even believe that lie truly, deeply, and madly, then tomorrow it will become the truth for you.
Smart Work VS Hard Work
And of course, then there was this humongous debate. Smart Work VS Hard Work.
Probably the biggest difference between smart work and hard work can be summed up in one word: STRATEGY. Having a strategy or a plan about doing a particular work, which is based upon reality, can increase your chances of being successful in that field by multiple folds.
Now, that’s where most people trip and slip. They do make a plan, but without having any understanding of the ground-level situation. That’s just as good as buying a 5g phone at a place with only 2g network capabilities available. If you make a strategy without grasping the facts of the situation, then you will find yourself stuck, and ultimately you will have to work hard to get out of it. But smart work is first broadening your knowledge and expanding your horizon and then formulating a strategy accordingly.
The strategy made with clarity of mind instills a sense of confidence in you. A clear mind boosts you up with energy, but a confused and baffled mind dozes you off.
Now, the other thing is that smart work also involves finding the easiest way out. This may seem a bit weird because we have been conditioned right from our childhood that “life is a struggle”, “life is hard”, “there are no easy choices”, and we keep on believing them for the rest of our lives.
Sure you can follow the hard path too, but then that won’t be called smart work. Smart work is about pulling off the most with the minutest energy. Or in other words, smart work is about increasing your energy density. How densely and profoundly can your energy affect your circumstances and situations?
That’s what the basic definition of smart work is all about—the toughest of tasks done effortlessly. And if you observe carefully, people doing their tasks effortlessly are the most admired ones.
We love actors who make acting seem natural and eloquently over those who are trying their level best to impress you. Those sportsmen are admired who make the toughest of the sports look like a child’s play. Our favorite dancers are those who dance so fluently like water that they make it seem like even a 50yr old obese man can do it without breaking a sweat.
So, smart work in life is all about living life in such a way that it looks totally effortless to the spectators, and they are just flabbergasted.
If you are given to cut a tree, then hard work will be to start with leaves, then going onto the small branches, then the big ones, and then the trunk, and so on. Smart work, on the other hand, is discovering the root of the problems, which is actually the roots of the tree here, and straight away getting done with it in one single blow.
Our life problems are also like this tree. One way is to keep on plucking off the leaves one at a time which is gonna require infinite time because the leaves will keep popping up as long as you are alive. The other option is to uproot the whole tree itself. The choice is yours.
Smart work is all about choosing the road less traveled, instead of traveling through that one single tiny heavily crowded road, the whole world is meandering on.