Doug Dvorak's Blog


Invest Your Time in Happiness

Work smarter, not harder. It’s a common mantra that many people use as they strive to optimize their professional performance while still having a healthy work-life balance.
A more technical term for this approach is Return on Time Invested (ROTI). It’s the practice of performing a task in the most effective way possible using the least amount of time and effort. It’s important to note here that being conscience of ROTI and being lazy are not the same things. If anything, using ROTI will help ensure that you are finding ways to work both effectively and efficiently.
Also worth noting is that ROTI can also be applied to your personal life as it allows you to get things done more efficiently within the allotted amount of time. By applying ROTI to all areas of your life, you will have more time to invest in your happiness as well as your career and personal goals. Here are ways you can start using ROTI:


Find the Right Motivation and Headspace

If you’re not in the right headspace to work, it will likely suffer. Being in the right headspace means both having the motivation to work on a project and it can be difficult to find. For some people, it can be as simple as finding the right time and place to get something done. Perhaps you need to work in a quiet environment or need to work in the evening to get in the right headspace, finding that time and place will make you more effective.
However, this is mostly applicable to stuff done on your own time or if your work has a flexible schedule. Most people are forced to work in the same environment at the same time. Thus, if you’re in this situation and lack the motivation to work, there are two ways to solve this; adaptation and discipline. There are things you can do to ensure you get into the right headspace. For example, you can listen to music or a podcast while you work or personalize your work environment.
However, more importantly, if you’re not able to find the motivation, you may need to discipline yourself to get into that headspace. According to Jocko Willick, a Navy Seal Veteran and leadership counselor, “Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation, count on discipline.”
This means forcing yourself to get into a routine and get your work done. At first it may feel like a drag, but eventually you’ll be able to naturally get yourself into a rhythm that ensures you’re in the right headspace to work.


Have a Plan

Going blindly into a task will often leave you overwhelmed as you don’t always know where to start. Analyzing what you have to do and choosing a plan will give you a reference to determine how much you really have to do and how long it will take. This may not only give you the motivation you need to get started but will allow you to meticulously complete smaller tasks in an orderly fashion. This can help you get your tasks done more quickly, as opposed to scrambling around trying to figure out what goes where and when.
Often one of the best orders of operation is to get the more difficult, complex, or important tasks done first. This allows you to get the hard parts out of the way so you can breeze through the easier, less important tasks. Additionally, if you have a limited amount of time, you won’t have to stress about getting the important stuff done since you’ve already done it.


Think Outside the Box

Usually, when the phrase “work smarter, not harder” is used, the person saying it means they want to find a way to make their jobs easier without sacrificing productivity. For example, let’s say you’re a gardener and you need to move a mound of dirt from one side of a lawn to the other. You could make 100 trips across the yard to move the dirt in buckets or you could get a wheelbarrow and complete the task in 20 trips.
Oftentimes, coming up with a time saving solution like this involves dedicating some time at the beginning of the job to consider all your options and how you might be able to streamline the work process.


Find Time for Yourself

Finally, with the ways that you have made working on your obligations more efficient, use the time that you now have for yourself. This could include resting and taking care of yourself, enjoying your hobbies, spending time with friends and family, or doing whatever makes you happy. It’s important to find a balance, to live your life and not waste it away wishing you could have done more. More importantly, if you’re allowed to rest and invest time in your happiness, you’ll likely be more effective in your work, which could make you more efficient and give you more time.
Alternatively, you can spend your time working towards your dream goal. You may want to start a business, work toward becoming an artist or author, or even putting in extra hours into your job if you’re already working toward your dream career. What’s most important is that the time you’re investing is making you happy.


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