smart vs. hard

work smart Growing up all I ever heard people say was "work hard, play hard" and it was usually in the context of working crazy hours and then raging on the weekends to let off some steam. I've never jived with that philosophy. I don't like working crazy hours and I certainly don't like bottling up my free time and energy for an explosive few days. In fact, when I did work at a job that consumed too much of my life I left it and got another one that gave me the freedom to have lunch with my family and leave work at a decent hour to meet Joe and friends for happy hour. It was life, ohhh so THIS is what happy hour is?!? And to top it all off, I got paid more.

I'm constantly seeking ways to meet my ideal lifestyle balance and leaving my first job (which was awesome so it wasn't easy) was the biggest lesson in learning that I have full control over my life. Now that I'm working on launching a new product and business, I want to be mindful of how I spend my time and energy so that I can stay excited about my new venture and not get burnt out. There's a lot to do and a A LOT to learn but I'm doing it all step by step, day by day, all while doing my best to work SMART versus HARD.

The concept of working smart is fairly new to me so this made me really happy to read. Things can get done just as well or better when there's focus rather than more time, there's no need to slave away for the sake of "working hard". For that reason I'm trying to be very conscious of how I organize and schedule my action items every day so that I know I can accomplish them within a few hours instead of being overwhelmed by a loooooong list that looks impossible to tackle. You know that feeling of crossing off to-do lists? I live for that. So, if you're like me and have an evolving lists of things that need your attention, here's what's been working really well for me lately.

I've started to keep my long lists in two separate notebooks (one for work, one for personal) and whenever I think of something that belongs in either, I write it down in their respective notebooks. Every morning I look at both and pick at least three things from those long lists. Then I write the selected items onto a smaller piece of paper (a short list) and post it above my laptop to reference throughout the day. That gives me my day's action items that I am 100% sure I can complete and feel good about. I pick them based on urgency and relevance. Some days it's strictly work and others I mix in more personal things like doing laundry, paying bills, etc. As the day goes on, I cross completed items off of the short list and at the end of the day (or next morning) I cross those same items off of my long lists. Little by little the long lists become MUCH easier to swallow!

This system has really helped me focus so that I can enjoy my free time and not think about all of the things that need to be done at home/work. There's a master list, after all, no need to have them swimming around in my head! Now even if we go off to play and I still have some work to do, it's all good. For example, last Friday when we went to KK I woke up at 5am to correspond with my USA contacts for two hours before leaving for the airport and then got back online for three hours that night at the hotel while Joe slept. I got work done and still had fun in stress at all. I wonder if this will come in handy if/when we start a family? The kids part definitely seems like hard work!

So what do you think about working smart vs. hard? Have you found something that works for you? Would love to hear how you maximize your work and personal life or the steps that you're taking to get there!