Working Smarter, Not Harder
Learning how to work smarter, not harder can improve your productivity and performance while increasing your overall job satisfaction. It can also make you a valuable asset to the organization for which you work and increase your job security. Making new habits to bypass working hard is difficult and requires practice, but it’s ultimately worth the commitment in time.
This tutorial outlines 25 strategies for how you can work smarter, not harder.
Why does it help to work smarter, not harder?
There are a number of reasons why it’s important to work smarter, not harder. Working smart:
- Working in short bursts of activity can help you to avoid tiredness and achieve more while working.
- Streamlining processes and combining tasks increases productivity.
- Motivation: It fosters feelings of positivity about your job, colleagues, and yourself.
- Do more with less when you improve your efficiency in performance: The most successful organizations always seeking to work smarter and not harder. Investing in learning how to perform for a specific job or task better often leads companies to be more productive, with fewer resources than before.
- Working smarter and more efficiently can give you a better quality product with less effort. This will naturally boost your self-esteem.
How to work smarter not harder?
Here are 25 ideas for how you can work more efficiently:
1. Prioritize your goals and work on the most important ones first. It’s counter-intuitive, but putting your goals in order and working on the biggest and most important one first can help you move through your to do list much faster.
2. Be realistic with how many tasks you plan to accomplish: It may be tempting to over-engineer a solution or complete more than you can handle. However, if you don’t know what projects are essential, and how many tasks you can accomplish in a day, it’s best to start by taking one bite off of a big hairy project.
3. Use your calendar to plan: One way I like to use my calendar for planning is by prioritizing the day into sections with different amounts of time. For example, if I know the morning is best for creative work and afternoon is better for meetings, I can plan out my day by scheduling blocks of time.
4. Know when you are most focused: Knowing your body’s natural biorhythms will help you plan your days more effectively based on when you are most productive. For example, mornings are great for me because I’m energetic and can think clearly.
5. Prioritize your long-term goals over short term goals: This is a saying that tends to get thrown around a lot, but it’s true — if you put off today what you can do tomorrow, when will you accomplish the big picture?
6. Use to do lists: If you don’t have a good organizational system for remembering what you need to accomplish, your brain will take the easiest way out and forget. Keep yourself accountable by writing down everything that comes to mind in an app or on paper.
7. Use tools like WorkFlowy as easily accessible digital note taking: I like to use WorkFlowy for my to do list because it allows me to make long lists and check off items as I complete them in one place.
8. Keep your desk clear of clutter: Clutter makes it much harder to stay productive. Go through everything you have on your desk, decide what is essential, and get rid of everything else.
9. Use the Pomodoro technique to keep track of your time: The Pomodoro Technique is a way to help you stay focused and on task for set periods of time, with breaks in between to help you restore energy. Set a timer for 25 minutes, work as efficiently as possible until it goes off, and then have a three minute break. This method is great for those who are prone to distraction.
10. Use projects that require little or no planning as work breaks: Taking small, quick tasks can be a good way to give your mind an energy boost when you need it most without losing ground on more important goals. For example, if you’ve been working on a big project for hours and suddenly feel like ditching it all to watch Netflix, get up from your desk and spend the next few minutes searching online for an interesting new recipe.
11. Remove distractions: Turn off notifications on your phone, close open chat windows, or shut down the monitor to help you focus.
12. Take breaks: I suggest taking a 10-minute break between every 45 minutes of work, or at least 4 times during your work day (which is hard to do if you’re following tip #9 above!). This will help give you a chance to relax and re-energize so that you can come back to your work with fresh eyes.
13. Don’t multitask: As tempting as it is, multitasking will make you less efficient and more prone to mistakes. Do one thing at a time until you finish to keep your productivity up.
14. Don’t try to get everything done at once: If you want to be highly productive, you need to be selective about what is important and what is not. You can’t do absolutely everything, so don’t try — it will just lower your quality of work and stress levels. Instead, focus on the most important tasks during each day and the rest will fall into place.
15. Save energy for later: Being drained of energy doesn’t make it easier to stay productive; it just makes you more tired, which in turn makes you less efficient! You need to make sure your tank is filled up before you start working on projects so that you have the strength needed to get things done.
16. Exercise: If you can find time to exercise, do it! It will help make you more alert and focused when you sit down at your desk and ease stress that could be negatively affecting performance. I like walking outside or going on walks around the office when I need a boost — fresh air is great for recharging your brain.
17. Get enough sleep: I suggest aiming for at least 7 hours of good quality sleep each night to keep yourself at the top of your game. . Getting rest will help you maintain a positive attitude and give you the energy needed to stay focused on work even when it gets tough!
18. Enjoy time with friends and family: Spending time with people you care about is a great way to give yourself some much needed mental breaks. I find that even just an hour or two out of the office can recharge my batteries and help me come back to work feeling refreshed.
19. Take regular vacations: It’s easy to get so caught up in working that you forget about everything else. You need to give yourself time for rest and relaxation (and fun!) to avoid burnout and maintain your productivity. I suggest taking a vacation every 6 months, at the very least!
20. Stay in touch with friends: When you have work stress in your life, reaching out to others can help you keep things in perspective. Take a few minutes to text or email with someone you can rely on when work gets tough.
21. Don’t take your work home: Not only will this affect your productivity, but it also has an adverse effect on relationships and mental health — not to mention the fact that doing so is simply rude! You need time away from the office to relax and unwind so that you can come back feeling refreshed.
22. Delegate tasks: If there is someone else in your team who can handle a task, give it to them! This will help keep the work load down on everyone and make sure everything gets done quicker — bonus points if you get stuff done on time!
23. Hire an intern: If you’re a small team or solo entrepreneur, an internship can be a great way to give your business some much needed help without the cost of hiring full-time employees (if you are hiring interns on a regular basis, make sure you know all the rules and regulations before doing so). Hiring interns can be a great way to give your business some much needed help without the cost of hiring full-time employees (if you are hiring interns on a regular basis, make sure you know all the rules and regulations before doing so).
24. Ask for feedback: You could have been working towards improvements that might seem obvious or easy to you, but to other people, they are completely new and foreign. You need to be able to hear honest opinions about your work in order to improve, so don’t get frustrated if it isn’t a great review. Instead, learn from the criticism and use that information for future success!
25. Don’t burn yourself out: Getting things done faster and more efficiently is fantastic, but you need to make sure that the quality of your work does not suffer. If things start going downhill, take a step back and reevaluate where you stand before continuing on.