Work Smarter, Not Harder
As a woman attempting to go-it-alone in business, there seem to be a never-ending number of behind-the-scenes, administrative tasks to be done, from book-keeping, planning (workshops, presentations, programs), preparing fliers, updating my website, keeping up with my social media presence, networking, writing the next blog post (ha!), to name a few that are at the top of my agenda right now. Your list will be different from mine – but I bet there are similarities.
So, the adage, “work smarter, not harder” is quite apt. We definitely can benefit from prioritizing, not wasting time on unimportant details (been there, done that) and organizing our time in a way that makes sense, and there are many great tools, approaches and professional coaches to help us with these things and more. What these approaches offer are many different ways to make the business of running our business more efficient.
Efficiency is SO important, but not just in the running of our business – for us too! As I’ve said before (and I’ll no doubt say again) for anyone in business, YOU are your most important asset. Without you, there is no business.
So let’s take the “work smarter, not harder” idea and apply it to ourselves – not just to WHAT we do, but the WAY we do it – the way we use ourselves, body and mind, as we go about our tasks. Let’s consider how much effort we use physically when we’re doing our work – when we’re talking to a prospective client on the phone, writing notes, reading an article, responding to emails, going over accounts, and all the other things we do.
In my experience, it’s in these types of behind-the-scenes jobs, that we can often expend way more effort – i.e. unnecessary tension – than is needed. When we’re “over-efforting,” we put all sorts of strain and stress on ourselves, that leads to problems like sore muscles, headaches, neck and back pain, RSI, fatigue and burn-out. Our mindset, or attitude, can play a big role. Often these are necessary jobs – ones we’re not particularly fond of, but that we “have to get done.” Just thinking this way can set off a whole pattern of stress and strain, which actually has nothing to do with what’s physically necessary to perform the task in hand.
And of course, we can get into poor physical habits for a whole host of different reasons, and patterns can become set, but what we’re thinking in the moment is something we can all work with.
Taking the time to notice our body, our breath, our thoughts and our feelings, is powerful and ultimately is the first step toward making potentially profound changes.
A useful little idea to help take this first step in BEING more efficient in YOURSELF is to play the “Can I Do Less?” game. Here’s what you do:
- In any given moment simply pause and notice what you are doing with your body (that in itself is helpful), and ask yourself, “Can I do less?” What I mean by this is, can you use less muscular tension, less physical effort, to perform the activity? As I look at my computer screen right now, I notice that I’m staring at it quite intently. I ask myself if I can do less, and I soften my focus on the screen. As I do so I also notice that my shoulders drop a little! You will notice different things. It can be quite an interesting exercise, and if you practice often, you will find lots of opportunities to use yourself a little more efficiently throughout your day.
Of course, it is sometimes easier said than done to let go, and Alexander Technique is a wonderful tool to help you do this. The more skilled you become in the Technique, the sooner you notice unwanted and unnecessary tensions creeping in, and the sooner you can let them go! You also start creating new, healthier, smarter, more efficient habits, so that excess tension overall is not such a dominant default pattern.
Some of the many benefits of learning to use ourselves more efficiently – of working smarter, not harder – include:
- Having more energy, as it’s not being wasted on unnecessary tension
- Being less susceptible to burn out
- Getting fewer aches and pains due to overworked muscles
- Gaining more clarity of thought (using our body with less tension, frees up the mind too!)
- Managing stress more effectively
- Improving posture, balance and body mechanics
- Becoming less reactive, and more responsive and open
- Experiencing more joy in what we do!
And all of these things, in turn, make the running of your business, your work itself, more efficient too. Alexander Technique is what helps ME operate most efficiently, and this is what I love helping my students with. It’s especially gratifying to help other women in business take on this approach to enhance their work and indeed their lives.
In what ways would YOU like to be more efficient in your life and work?
I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment in the space below.
If you enjoy reading this blog, please consider joining my MAILING LIST to receive my monthly newsletter, Body Intelligence News, which includes blog updates, as well as tips, inspiration and advance notice of upcoming classes and programs. By signing up you’ll also receive a FREE AUDIO to help you reduce stress and boost confidence in just TWO MINUTES. Find the sign-up form at the top right of this page.
I have been practicing using less tension when I am preparing a meal. Not applying a death grip on the cucumber I am slicing makes the task easier. Also pausing briefly to take a few breaths during the meal prep renews my stamina. I have noticed I enjoy the meal more.
That’s great, Sandie. Thanks so much for commenting 🙂
I love the way you have articulated a not-so-obvious link between Alexander Technique and the business of running a business. I may steal it… (with proper credit, of course) Karen
Glad you like it, Karen. And please feel free to “steal.” 😉 I’m very interested to get your take on it.
Thanks for this great little reminder for someone who’s both a business woman (though in my case luckily in a co-op with 3 other women) and a devout Alexander Technique scholar. AT has over the years not just positively impacted on my posture but definitely also on my mindset – checking in with myself what I’m doing, how and why.
That’s wonderful, Petra. Thanks so much for commenting.