It’s Not About Working Hard, It’s About Working Smart

by Shana Antoine

We live in a world that doesn’t stop for anyone. Fashion trends, music styles and social media – everything is constantly changing. Even if you decide against “keeping up with the times,” things are still going to change, with or without you. It’s almost as if one day you’re learning basic maths, then all of a sudden you’re graduating and looking to jumpstart your career.

We are constantly being told that we have to work hard in order to make a name for ourselves. I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. But it’s not always about working hard, so much as it is about working smart. Here’s what I mean:

Work Jobs That Meet Your Career Goals

As a recent graduate, I can vouch for how tough it is to find a job immediately after being awarded that hard-earned degree. If you didn’t get your foot in the door during your time as an undergraduate, you may find that you’ll struggle to find a company that will accept you when you don’t have work experience.

When we find ourselves in this position, it’s so easy for us to settle. We’ll accept any job that wants us, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with what we want to pursue in our lives. “I studied English, but no one will hire me. I’ll work as a barista in the meantime!”

We’re young and pressed for money – I get that. But we should always think about how these jobs will look on our CV’s. It may be more helpful to work small-end jobs that will eventually lead you to where you want to be in life. Internships and apprenticeships are a great way to gain experience in your chosen field. Do whatever it is you have to do in order to get your name out there. Want to be a writer/editor? Start your own blog! Freelancing is an awesome way to build credibility for your personal “brand,” which starts and ends with you!

Utilize Different Time Management Techniques

Getting things done starts with great time management skills. Procrastination, though a lot of us youngsters tend to do it, does a lot more hindrance than good. If we’re able to find a way to set milestones for ourselves, and complete them, then we may find we meet our everyday goals more effectively.

Having a set agenda is a great way to ensure that all your work is done in a timely manner. It also helps to order and prioritise these tasks by difficulty and turnaround time: from quick and easy to most important and time consuming. Of the many techniques available out there, the Pomodoro method happens to be my personal favourite. It involves using a timer and working 25 minute intervals with breaks in between.

The Tunes You Listen To Can Impact The Quality Of Your Work

Ever notice how different styles of music can help you accomplish certain tasks? Maybe EDM goes well with running and exercise, or perhaps listening to heavy metal helps you let out steam when you’re frustrated. There’s a genre out there for everyone in any given situation or mood.

Classical music is known for it’s soothing tones and calming qualities. Studies have shown that listening to classical music while working or studying will increase the quantity and quality of work you produce by a great deal. Merely tuning in to this genre of music has “enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic neurotransmission, learning and memory.” You can’t argue with science.

While some sounds are more apt to distract you, listening to some Beethoven or Tchaikovsky will help you remain level-headed and focused in the midst of a challenge. We know that all jobs will be full of those. The more deadlines you meet in a satisfactory amount of time, the happier your bosses will be. Win-Win.

Take Breaks

As mentioned previously, frequent breaks are thought to reboot the mind and increase the amount of work completed in a short amount of time. A mental break does wonders. While you don’t have to slip into deep meditation, stepping away from your work for a few minutes at a time makes us more apt to finish it.

Breaks are the perfect remedy for any kind of mental block you’re suffering from. Take it from a writer.

Network, Network, Network!

It’s a small world after all… and that’s no joke. You never know who you will meet, when you’ll cross paths or what they can do to help you jumpstart your career. Networking allows you to build relationships with a pool of people in any chosen field. According to Monster.com, between 60 and 80 percent of jobs are found through networking.

Attending networking events and careers fairs will give you the chance to meet professionals that can give you your next big break. Reaching out to managers and employees on company websites or social media with a friendly message can transform you from a prospect to a newly hired employee. Have a look on LinkedIn, find out the names of people working for companies that interest you and see how you can improve your social media game. These three things should definitely improve your likelihood of landing a job!

Working to meet your short-term and long-term goals is a sure way to get you where you need to be in life. What you shouldn’t do is put so much pressure on yourself that you shy away, assume defeat and curl up into a ball of complacency. You can do anything as long as you work for it.

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