Work Smart: Do Less, Achieve More

Last week, Hunted made the short trip to Jolt’s Liverpool Street campus. It’s a journey we’ve made before, for the launch of their Business Education Steering Committee back in July. And for an open panel on How To Battle Burnout in September.

This time we’re here for a lesson from Jonas Altman, Founder of design practice Social Fabric, on a subject recruiters will be all too familiar with: working smart. Or, getting more out of less.

Jonas is a regular speaker at conferences, advising companies on how individuals and teams can get their smartest work done.

“I believe a new model of organising is replacing a tired one and that the way we work can be more fluid and fulfilling”

This is particularly important for recruiters whose success, arguably, is only really limited by the number of hours in the day. If you can get more out of your time, in theory you could be making more placements.

Given that we all share the same 24 hours, if you start looking at working smart as an exercise in managing energy, as opposed to strictly managing time, new avenues to upping your output begin opening.

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Map Your Energy

Philosophical hacker and co-founder of Y Combinator, Paul Graham, wrote ‘Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule‘ back in 2009. It’s an article-length essay on time management structures that business leaders are still nitpicking today.

The Manager’s schedule is how most of recruitment plans their day: your time’s chopped up into slots, tasks are assigned in advance, and what you’re doing typically changes hour by hour.

Maker’s schedules are designed with programmers and creatives in mind. Days are split into much larger chunks of time, often just two or three large slots a day.

Managing time like this supports “deep work”, a term coined by Computer Science Professor Cal Newport to describe “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task”.

Recruitment’s not short on demanding tasks. But working without distraction is a luxury in an industry that needs to be reactive. So how would a Maker’s schedule work in recruitment? The short answer is it wouldn’t. Not on its own.

I go into it in much more detail in an article titled The Ultimate Recruitment Day Plan. The point being, the best day plan’s the one you write yourself.

Identify the time, or times, during the day you’re at your most productive. Then match tasks that require the most energy or focus with high productivity peaks. And assign less energetic or less focused work to low productivity troughs.

The greater the peak, the more attention-worthy the task.

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Develop A Ritual

John Grisham wrote a book a year for almost 30 years. And the secret to maintaining that level of productivity lies in the writing process.

He’d start a new novel on January 1st, every year. And it would be finished by July.

He’d start at the same time every day, sit in the same chair, at the same computer, with the same coffee mug and the same brand of coffee inside it.

Routines become rituals when there’s elevated significance to your actions. It’s the difference between looking at recruitment as nothing more than a numbers game, and looking at your to do list as a meaningful sequence of events geared towards a desired outcome.

New business, more commission, career recognition. Routines become rituals when they’re tied to a higher purpose.

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Take Your Time

Another writer’s anecdote for you is that lots of the famous ones preached to anyone who’d listen – usually their diaries – about the importance of going for a walk when prepping themselves mentally for work.

Mental prep’s a critically underused resource in recruitment, typically because the timescales don’t ever allow for it. When a contract comes in, you normally have to have already been on the phone fifteen minutes.

More thinking time, while maintaining the same or a greater level of output is the very definition of smart working.

So it could be anything from coming up with fresh BD pitches, working out a talent attraction piece, thinking up a new angle to hit an old search with, or getting into the right headspace for a meeting.

But you could be missing out on absolutely cracking results by not, to paraphrase a relatively well known quote, spending more time sharpening the axe instead of swinging it around blunt.

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Use The Right Tools

If you’re physically not able to go for a wander in the middle of power hour, recapturing time is where tech proves exceptionally useful.

We publish a regular series of Productivity Hacks articles, which collate various apps and programs to make recruitment easier, better, or simply less time consuming.

Todoist is a smart, digital to do list. It’s works from a browser or via an app and understands natural speech. So you can manage all your tasks, reminders, and deadlines from one, easily updateable place.

Note-taking’s one of the biggest drains on a Recruiter’s time. I’ve been using Otter.ai to transcribe voice notes because it saves me hours typing. It can also capture meetings, and identify individual speakers.

There’s a toxic side of being ultra productive and chasing goals, which is to always be hustling. In reality, rest’s just as vital to high performance as your actions. Sleep Cycle is an app which “analyzes your sleep and wakes you up at the most perfect time, feeling rested”, so you can even hack your downtime if you wanted to.

There are numerous apps taking the leg work out of building an online presence. And entire libraries of plugins for Google Chrome that’ll even get the browser you use working smart.

Like anything, trial and error will make picking the right tools easier. But if you’re combining tech that’s meant to streamline or optimise key parts of your role, with say The Pomodoro Technique for intense bursts of effort, you’re going to have an edge on your competition.

How much you leverage that is up to you.


Jolt are the business school for the self-made. We go along to a fair few of their events, so if you’ve taken value out of this article, have a look at How To Stop The Drop And Ask Better Questions.

Or this one, on what your best BD strategy should be. In a nutshell? Making your clients uncomfortable.

Follow Hunted and Jolt on LinkedIn to keep up to speed with the next event for your diary. And see if there’s any courses that catch your eye.