One way I have evolved over time in both my personal and professional capacities is my approach to projects and output. In my late teens and probably for most of my 20s, I was someone who tried to bulldoze through assignments and projects by completing them in a long, continuous fashion. I would devote hours to the task at hand by pulling all-nighters, slugging energy drinks, and not pulling myself away until I was done.
Mind you, I never was a last-minute person. I would tackle these projects way before deadlines but once I got started I wouldn’t let myself stop. I took the old Ben Franklin adage of “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today” to an extreme. It was a combination of my Type A personality and stubbornness but it wasn’t conducive to producing my best effort.
As I worked more in a professional setting and saw the proper way to manage projects I started to see the light. Quality work shines brighter when it is produced in a sustained, logical way rather than through a 10-hour marathon of non-stop work. I started applying this model, which I learned in the context of team projects, to my pursuits both in and out of the office.
I am convinced that the brain works best focusing on tasks for short bursts of time rather than extended cram sessions. Also, work must be reviewed constantly. If you are doing a little bit each day it becomes more manageable and realistic to evaluate your output rather than if you plow through something in a single night. A fresh mind can simply produce and review work at a much more advanced level than a fatigued one.
The work smarter, not harder cliché definitely has merit. Over time I have turned away from working on something for hours on end and embraced a more strategic and less-taxing approach. In fact, the way that I now tackle projects is something that I would consider a strength of mine. Don’t Blink.