I hate to break it to you, but some of the things you’ve learned about how to be successful are simply outdated. And the biggest one is that you need to “work harder and longer to be successful.”
So, what’s the golden ticket to being successful, you ask? Great question. You have to learn to work smarter or, as I like to say, work some PPE into your day (and no, I’m not talking about personal protective equipment). What I’m talking about is preparedness, prioritization, and execution.
“In all your working, make sure your work is working.” ~ Regan Donofrio
Now that you’ve got the acronym part down, here’s how you put it into action:
1. Prepare – the last thing you want to do is let emails or calls hijack your morning before your coffee has even kicked in. That’s why preparation is critical when it comes to planning out your day the night before, but preparation doesn’t just apply in the short term. You can benefit significantly from long-term preparedness by reading up on a field you want to pursue in 6 months or training for a marathon you want to run in a year.
2. Prioritize – if you’re tired of feeling overcommitted, overwhelmed, and overworked, you’ve got to get over the hump and learn to ruthlessly prioritize what’s most important. Prioritization starts with accepting that you have a limited amount of time to do an unlimited amount of things. Thus, you’ve got to constantly and consistently push yourself to do the most important and impactful thing FIRST.
3. Execute – you can prepare and prioritize all you want, but none of it matters without effective execution. So, what separates effective execution from plain ‘ol execution? Four things to be exact; staying organized/being clear on who’s doing what, setting deadlines, providing positive feedback, and resolving team conflicts.
Did you notice what’s not a part of PPE? Working harder and longer hours to be successful. Sure, pulling a late-nighter to get that thing done for your boss may get you a few extra compliments in the short term; however, it’s not a sustainable or efficient way to do your best work in the long run.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” ~ Lena Horne
There’s a good chance this kind of working style will only zap your energy and lead you straight to burnout. And if you’re like most people during quarantine these days, you’ll need that extra energy when you’re trying to juggle working from home with your other full-time job of super parenting or super streaming the latest show in your sweats.
The bottom line? It’s time to retire the idea of “working harder and longer to be successful” once and for all and start embracing a new way of working when you put preparedness, prioritization, and execution into play. Seriously, think about it! You’ve got nothing to lose (besides feeling overwhelmed and overworked, of course) and everything to gain.