10 Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder
Working hard has long been considered the path to success.
Hard work is equated with increased financial gain and personal achievements.
It is true that these things can be gained as a result of hard work and focus.
However, adopting smarter working practices can help you reach these goals more efficiently.
Working smarter involves optimizing the way you work. There are many strategies that can help you manage the way you work.
Adopting even a few of the ideas outlined in this article could greatly benefit your productivity and results.
Working smarter means you can accomplish your tasks more quickly and using less effort.
Remember that being busy does not necessarily mean you will achieve a lot. It can lead to overwhelm, exhaustion and a lack of balance in life.
Working smarter includes improving your skills of prioritization and focus. This means that unnecessary tasks are avoided, and work is completed quickly with less effort.
Smarter working implies that your life will be improved as a result of different working practices.
Learning some strategies to increase productivity will enable you to manage your home, work and social life more effectively.
This article outlines the benefits of working smarter. It provides 10 proven strategies to implement in your daily life.
Benefits of Smart Work
There are many reasons why working smarter is beneficial. Here are just some of the positive gains:
Efficiency relates to the quality of work you produce. If you are working smarter, you will create a better quality of work.
This means that you will complete the most amount of work with the least waste. This includes time, money, resources or energy.
Productivity relates to the quantity of work produced. By working smarter, not harder, you will complete a greater number of tasks during the day.
This could mean that you achieve all the tasks expected of you during a working day. It might also mean that you can tick more things off your general to-do list.
Your motivation and focus will be appreciated by your employer. This can guarantee increased job security.
Working smarter improves your concentration. Once you have implemented efficient strategies, you will be able to focus more fully on your daily tasks.
Having a better focus will build up your momentum and help to produce a better quality of work.
Working harder can lead to exhaustion. It is important to prioritize some downtime in your day.
Working smarter will reduce burnout as you are not struggling to achieve too much in a short amount of time. You will feel more relaxed and have more energy.
Striving to do more and more work can be stressful. It can lead to anxiety and worry about your job performance.
Working smarter will reduce your stress. Time and energy-saving techniques will help you to feel more relaxed and confident that you can complete your daily tasks.
Having a good work-life balance is essential to your mental health. Feeling under pressure to work harder can also have a negative effect on your relationships.
Working smarter brings this back into balance and increases happiness. It gives you extra time to devote to other aspects of your life.
You will be able to spend more time with family and friends. You will also have more energy to focus on your hobbies and interests outside of work.
10 Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder
1. SMART Targets
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed.
- Specific – Make your goal specific so you can visualize the outcome
- Measurable – How you measure the success of the goal
- Achievable – It needs to push you without being unattainable
- Relevant – It should be meaningful and contribute to your overall aim
- Timed – Set a time frame for you to achieve the goal
This framework is used to reach a SMART goal.
For example, perhaps you want to increase interaction in team meetings. This is a goal, but it is not a SMART goal.
Writing this as a SMART target might look like this:
For the next eight team meetings, I will focus on increasing the amount of staff engagement. I will email reminders in advance to all staff outlining my expectations. Dedicated time in each meeting will encourage the contribution and sharing of ideas. This means I can discover the business ideas of each team member.
Setting SMART targets helps focus your intention. You can determine precisely what you want to achieve.
This strategy is useful for gaining precise clarity and a growth mindset. It removes confusion and defines a clear way to move forward.
2. Chunking, Not Multitasking
Multitasking clutters your mind leaving you unable to fully focus on one specific job. Flitting between tasks and projects usually means that less is achieved overall.
It takes time for your brain to adjust to each task as you switch between them.
It can reduce focus on important tasks, and these priority items can be forgotten about.
Instead, it is wise to manage one task at a time. An alternative approach, chunking, involves setting aside chunks of your day where you will dedicate time to one particular task.
For example, perhaps you need to respond to customer inquiries. For the next half an hour, this is the only task you should focus on.
Don't allow any distractions or disturbances for this time. This might mean shutting your office door or moving to a quieter location.
When the time is up, move on to another task for a set amount of time.
This approach means your brain can easily focus on the job. You will complete the work with attention to detail and less strain.
3. Work in Rhythm With Your Body
Everyone has a different internal body clock. Note the times you feel most energized and the most tired throughout the day.
Link the types of tasks with your daily rhythm. Try and group similar tasks.
If you need to make many phone calls, write emails or organize paper files, deal with these in one block of time.
You will be motivated to complete these faster. This will create a sense of achievement.
Plan your day so that analytical tasks are completed when you feel most energized.
Similarly, schedule more creative thinking tasks to times when you are not as focused.
If you are the most alert first thing, do the tasks that require the most brainpower. It would be a mistake to do this type of task after lunch when you feel like you need a nap.
Don't sacrifice your health and wellbeing. Get adequate sleep and eat a nourishing diet.
Being aware of your needs will ensure that you can look after yourself. You will be able to fulfill expectations and accomplish your best.
Taking the simplest task first can seem like an easy option. This is a problem if the easiest task then overshadows a bigger project.
Decide which tasks can wait and which ones are urgent. Then tackle the one that needs doing soonest first.
Start longer projects at the start of the working day. This means you are fresh and performing at your best
Each morning, prioritize your top three tasks. Do this by defining which ones will generate the biggest impact for yourself or your work.
Don't move on to other tasks until you have achieved these. Quicker tasks that don't require analytical thought are best completed at the end of the day.
Review your work schedule daily or weekly and see how you are benefitting. Then implement any necessary changes to your method.
5. Organize Your Environment
Pay attention to your work environment. If your office or workspace is cluttered, it can have a negative impact on concentration.
Start the day with a clear desk. Minimize clutter and have all the things you need in easy reach.
Have a system in place for where you put paperwork. This will save time when you are looking for an important file.
Streamline your email inbox with folders and delete all unnecessary emails.
Regularly clean up your digital and paper files. Create logical folders to organize your projects.
Consider what can be recycled or destroyed. This should follow the guidance of the data protection act.
Think about how you can improve your workspace environment. Try adding a pot plant or a picture with a nature scene.
Having plants nearby or looking at natural landscapes can reduce stress and fatigue.
Organizing your environment can benefit your mental health. It will reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed and aid concentration.
6. Rest Breaks
Don't underestimate the importance of regular breaks. Staring at screens all day can be physically and mentally draining.
Breaks are proven to improve concentration and energy levels. Your brain can only focus for 90 minute periods.
While it can be tempting to stay in the flow, don't overdo it. Schedule in break times to give your thinking mind a rest.
You could try using the Pomodoro technique. This is a method of managing your day using a timer.
Each working interval is 25 minutes. These intervals are alternated with five-minute short breaks.
Getting out into nature or a green space is even more beneficial. Leave your cell phone behind to avoid tempting distractions.
During times of quiet, unexpected ideas and solutions to problems have the chance to slip into mind.
7. Delegate or Ask For Help
Be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. If you realize a task is more suited to another colleague, don't be afraid to delegate.
This strategy can be difficult for perfectionists or micro-managers. However, placing your trust in other staff can increase their sense of self-worth and confidence.
Delegating will give you time to work on something that demands your specialist attention instead.
However, make sure you communicate clearly what needs to be done.
If you are trying to convey a difficult concept, pick up the phone instead of emailing. This prevents you from writing numerous follow-up emails to clarify points.
Asking for help should not be thought of as a weakness. Speaking to others can allow them to share their talents and expertise.
Getting help from other people will help you gain insights, solve problems and become more efficient with your work.
8. To-Do and To-Don't
Ticking off completed tasks on a to-do list can bring a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
However, it can also be helpful to write a to-don't list too. On this, you can write all the things that are draining your time.
Some examples might be responding to every notification, checking social media or having your phone nearby.
You can also determine which work tasks are unnecessary. Move these from the to-do list to your to-don't list to save time.
By eliminating these unnecessary habits or tasks, you are guaranteed to save time. This will give you more time to focus on your to-do instead.
It is better to keep your to-do list short. Long lists can feel intimidating and lead to procrastination or inaction.
Pick your top three to five important things and achieve these during the day. This will help you feel more motivated and confident.
9. Minimize Distraction
Distractions have the power to throw you off task easily. Minimizing these will allow you to focus on the task at hand fully.
If you are working remotely, this tip is even more important.
If any chores need to be done, do them outside of your working hours. It is easy to become caught up in home tasks when you should be working.
Turn off notifications and sounds on your mobile. Checking your phone can be a huge distraction.
Distractions can be reduced by setting boundaries. You might close your office door or set your status to busy.
You might have a hectic schedule of meetings or networking events. Remember it is ok to say no to things if they don't align with your current goals.
10. Remain Open
Keep a growth mindset and be open to opportunity.
Focus on learning new ways and upskilling to develop your working practice.
Talk to others about how they are working rather than what they are working on. You might discover other ways to develop your skills and organize your time.
Strive to improve skills continuously. Perhaps you can ask for additional training in computer systems for example.
A better understanding of technology can increase efficiency. Learning keyboard shortcuts or increasing your typing speed and accuracy can also save time.
There are time-saving and productivity apps that you could experiment with. Some examples include:
- Hive for project management
- Trello for collaborating with your team
- Forest which plants a tree if you stay off your phone
The important thing is to always be open to learning and continuous development. Efforts you make now will be rewarded in the future.
Working smart is the best favor you can do for yourself. It will improve your work, your relationships and your sanity.
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that working hard will generate the biggest rewards.
Adopting smart working practices will bring a wide range of benefits. Your smooth, unhurried working methods will impress your boss and co-workers.
Another important reason to work smarter is that your mental health will be improved. Reducing stress in the workplace will positively impact yourself as well as those around you.
Working smarter and harder are not mutually exclusive. Working smarter definitely isn't a way of organizing your work so you can put your feet up.
You are still required to work hard at the same time. Working smarter can feel intuitive to some people, while others struggle.
There is no need to work 24/7 just because it is possible. Learn some time-saving strategies and improve your life as a result.