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The Secret to Doing Your Best Work Effortlessly

Last Updated Jun 2, 2011 1:52 PM EDT

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming or just not into your work? Do you feel like it's a struggle sometimes to concentrate or to get anything done? And at other times, are you able to do your work effortlessly, getting everything done quickly and efficiently? What's going on here? It might not be you. It might not be your work. It might be your location.

In last week's column, I discussed time-shifting, which is engaging in activities at optimum times based on first knowing and then capitalizing on your circadian rhythm. By taking advantage of your natural daily energy cycles, when you work can have a tremendous impact on your performance. This knowledge alone can radically transform your productivity and results, but there is another important factor -- where you work.

Does it really matter where you work? Yes, and probably much more than you think. I do my best brainstorming when I'm on vacation, in coffee shops or even just outside. I've found that I have my best phone calls and do my best analytical work at the office. However, when it comes to writing, I choke at the office. What might take me an hour to write at home could take me three to four hours at the office. Worse yet, the writing would be rubbish. So not only would I waste more time trying to write at the office, but the work itself would suffer.

If you want to produce better work more efficiently, you must become more conscious of where you do your best work. You'll probably find that there isn't one best place for everything. The goal is to match the "what" -- the activity -- with the optimum where and when.

During a presentation that I gave last week, someone asked me how to determine where you do your best work. There's only one answer -- test it. In order to identify where you do your best creative thinking, number crunching, writing or whatever, you need to experiment by working in different locations and logging your results.

Here's how you can find the best "where" for your work:
  1. Identify your work categories. List all of the different types of work that you do. Your list might include creative thinking, cold calling, performing research, doing face-to-face client presentations, conducting conference calls, writing, etc. The work categories for a realtor will be significantly different from a CPA, therapist or HR director.
  2. Identify your available work locations. List all of the potential physical locations from which you could work. For example, your potential locations might include work office, home office, den, park, coffee shop, library, car, etc. Or, if you don't have the flexibility to work from anywhere other than the office, you can still identify different locations at the office such as your desk, a large conference room, the break room, etc.
  3. Match your work categories with your work locations. This is the fun part. Experiment by working at each of your locations and noting where it seems most natural and effortless, or conversely, where it seems most strained and difficult.
If you have the flexibility to work where you want, you can get creative by allocating your work based on optimum time and location. However, if you're like most workers, you can't simply go home in the middle of the day to work on a proposal. All is not lost, if that's the case! Focus on the one or two key work categories that can drive your business or career forward, and then identify the most feasible locations where you do this work most effectively. Or, talk to your boss and explain that you'll be able to deliver even better results if you can work offsite.

If you want to do better work more efficiently, focus on the perfect when and the best where for everything that you do. For instance, it's getting late here. Time for bed . . .

(Woman in park photo by Ed Yourdon, CC 2.0)
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    Robert Pagliarini is obsessed with inspiring others to create and empowering them to live life to the fullest by radically changing the way they invest their time and energy. He is the founder of Richer Life, a community of passionate people who want to learn and achieve more in life and at work. He is a Certified Financial Planner and the president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors, a boutique wealth management firm serving sudden wealth recipients and affluent individuals. He has appeared as a financial expert on 20/20, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew's Lifechangers and many others.