5 Ways To Work Smarter In The New Year

With the New Year comes the promise of new resolutions. Some of you might roll your eyes and shake your heads at the thought, but there are those of us who tack bright paper lists to our work spaces as a festive mantra of new beginnings.

Whether it’s the exercise bike that’s become a clothes rack that left you jaded towards resolutions, or the money saved from eating out less last year that gives you enthusiasm for setting a new set of goals – I think we can agree that it takes extra motivation after the holidays to get back into the swing of things.

Though vacations and breaks should leave us feeling refreshed and ready for the return of routine, sometimes the business of the holidays can leave you feeling ready for another break, or, let’s face it, a vacation. And honestly, when work is where you live and life happens where you work, sometimes a long enough break just isn’t possible. The thought of the to-do list waiting for me often compels me to get a little work done, even when I really should be ‘breaking!’

The personal me always has several things to work on over the coming year (eat less, exercise more, smell the roses). The work me also likes to take stock and note a goal or two for the coming year (make more, spend less, work smarter).

The start of a new year is an opportune time to reevaluate your schedule and decide how to improve your workday by working smarter in 2013. Working smarter always beats working harder, right?! But how can you work smarter? Here are the top 5 things to remember:

1. Time Is Money

I’ve heard it, I’ve said it, I all but preach it . . . but truth is, the meaning can be quite hard to live by. Anyone else get lost in Pinterest for more than an hour at a time or read a few more chapters than you meant to before going to sleep last night? Me, too. We all still want to pin, read books, and play ping pong – we just need to realize just how much time we might be devoting to something that maybe shouldn’t get so much of our attention.

Working in a distracted environment, or frame of mind, can leave you less effective and make a task take longer than planned. Structure your day so you can do more difficult projects during your most focused time of the day and projects that require details during times that are not prone to distraction.

Automate and delegate. I’m bad at both – I like the hands on and don’t like hounding for help. Try to automate a few things (thank you SMS calendar reminders) and delegate what you can (the kids can fold those towels).

2. Breaks Are Awesome

Breaks are part of working smarter? Heck yeah – but make sure you make your breaks count. While you may not have time for as many breaks as you would like, taking breaks, breaks that give you genuine relaxation and rejuvenation, is critical to not only being successful with your work, but enjoying your work and your home. Walks, naps, a good book, a TV show, or even a cup of tea can help your mind slow down and enable you to work more effectively after the break. I’m also quite find of my Wii Fit yoga instructor. It’s a 22 minute break (and I’m always glad to go back to work).

3. Don’t Under Estimate Goals

Remember those post it notes I mentioned earlier? Though you may not be a fan of resolutions, having goals at work can help you meet deadlines with ease and give you a renewed excitement toward the future. Maybe you’ve wanted to move up in your job? Or wanted to take a vacation overseas? Creating goal STEPS can build a bridge that makes those dreams possible.

4. Take Care of Yourself

It may sound obvious to take care of yourself, but with so much focus on taking “perfect” care of yourself, sometimes it’s easy to give up all together. Rather than create self-care resolutions you can’t keep, think of basic lifestyle habits that are in your best interest. If you’re not a runner, instead of feeling like you need to run five miles a day, maybe try to walk a few blocks at lunch. If you don’t have time to take on every commitment this year, skip a few, the time with your family will be better spent. The key is to keep your life balanced and manageable, not add more stress to your already over-scheduled day.

5. Remember Why You Started In the First Place

Lost in the day-to-day it can be easy to forget why you started working from home, or that business that once seemed exciting can seem uber mundane. As with everything else in life, there will always be parts you don’t like and the grass will sometimes seem greener over there on the other side of the fence. So take time to remember what it is you love about working from home, how you got there, and how grateful you are for whatever it is you do that helps put clean sheets on the bed and food on the table. When I first started working from home my daughter had just been born. Now both of my kids’ ages end in ‘teen.’ The years fly by too fast, and time isn’t getting any slower – it’s worth it to do what you love.

While a new year may not mean perfection, it can mean a new season to love the job you do. Rather than barely getting through the day, take this year to remember the purpose behind what you do, and that oftentimes working harder means working smarter.

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