Being an efficient worker means being able to work smarter, not harder. You can put in as much time and effort as you want into your work, but ultimately, this won’t be the best way to go about your work in the long run. A better way to get things done is to adopt a mentality that promotes working smart. This means making the most out of the time on your hands in a way that allows you to cut down on any additional steps that are ultimately unnecessary. Thus, working smart entails having to use your time wisely to get things done in a timely manner.
There are different approaches to take when it comes to working smart. Time management will be essential, but there are other things you can adjust in your work habits to ensure you make the most of your time. Here are some tips to help you work smarter, not harder.
How To Work Smarter, Not Harder
1. Learn How To Prioritize
When you want to work smarter, not harder, it will be important for you to know which tasks need to be prioritized. To help you stay organized, create a checklist and arrange tasks according to their importance and level of urgency. This will make you more efficient at work by focusing on tasks that require immediate attention. Invest in a bullet journal as they’re great for making checklists and keeping your workdays more organized.
Don’t forget that you are a priority as well. If your body and mind are screaming for rest, then prioritize yourself and take a break. You won’t be able to work properly when you’re physically incapable of actually being productive.
2. Proper Time Management Is A Must
Good time management is a must when you want to work smarter, not harder. Without proper time management, you run the risk of missing deadlines and cramming. If this habit keeps up, it can ultimately bring you stress and affect the quality of your work.
When you break down your tasks in order of importance, you’ll also need to figure out how much time each task requires to be fulfilled. Be sure to allocate an appropriate and feasible amount of time per task on your checklist. Spending too much time on a certain objective may cause you to fall behind on your other duties.
Time management skills are often learned, though, so you might struggle at first when trying to be more time effective with your work. You can consider downloading apps and online extensions that can schedule your tasks and train you to stay focused.
3. Take Breaks Every Now And Then
There’s a reason why the Pomodoro Method continues to be one of the most popular time management techniques among people who work smarter, not harder. Even if it’s just five minutes, giving yourself a break while working can help you re-energize and refresh yourself. All work and no play will only burn you out and demotivate you faster.
You want to work smarter, not harder, so it’s important to rest from time to time. Be sure that you distance yourself from work when taking breaks to decompress. Time yourself as well, because the last thing you want to do is overdo the resting to the point of slacking off from your responsibilities.
4. Create A Work Space That Is Conducive To Productivity
Your work area can affect just how much you can work smarter, not harder. Create a workstation that is clean and well-lit. Getting rid of any clutter in your space can help with your work efficiency and subsequently affect your productivity as well.
Some people might even decorate their workspace with little trinkets that are both fun and functional. You can look into some of the best office gadgets to give your work area some added charm and functionality. They can help make your work a lot more convenient while making your desk more personalized and unique from your other co-workers.
5. Make Small Preparations Ahead Of Time
Always plan ahead. This is a small but effective effort that can help hone your time management skills. Even taking just a few minutes before bed to prep for the next day can make a world of a difference when you’re looking to work efficiently and effectively. When you plan ahead, you help yourself avoid any unnecessary rework or stress.
Doing so can also teach you how to work faster. Making prior preparations means being able to get through your tasks more systematically as you have your whole day’s work set out already. You’ll be more prepared to face the day and tackle your to-do list when you do some of the small but meaningful prep work ahead of time.
6. Create Reasonable Deadlines And Adhere To Them
Setting deadlines for yourself can train you to better manage your time. They can be especially beneficial when you’re in for some big tasks that require a substantial amount of work. When you set a deadline for yourself, be strict with yourself and make sure you keep to them so you achieve what you’ve set out to do.
When you want to work smart, you also have to establish deadlines that give you an adequate amount of time to accomplish tasks. Unrealistic deadlines can stress you out and not meeting them can affect your motivation to accomplish tasks in the long run. Create your own time management strategies that will help you cope with deadlines and various workloads.
7. Learn How To Be Flexible
Be flexible not just with your schedule, but with how you prioritize tasks as well. Things won’t always go according to plan, so it can be crucial for you to know how to shift priorities when the occasion calls for it. In the same way, you need to learn what sort of tasks need to be prioritized, you will also need to learn how to drop priorities when a much bigger and more important responsibility comes up.
Being flexible can help you stay focused on what needs to be done. Work can sometimes be unpredictable, so flexibility is an important trait to have when you want to work smarter not harder. Though it helps to remain focused on your responsibilities, having a tunnel vision sort of perspective closes you off from other strategies that may help you work better along the way.
8. Know What Needs To Be Eliminated
There can be some unnecessary steps in your workflow that can hinder you from being able to work smarter, not harder. Figure out where you can “cut corners” without sacrificing the quality of your work. Doing this can help you save on any time and energy that could be used on more important obligations.
This is why is so important to plan ahead and be flexible. You need to know when to let go of tasks that are only going to slow your progress down and are better left out of your schedule. If they can or needs to be done by someone else, you can then outsource the work accordingly. Remember, not everything has to be accomplished alone.
9. Know Your Limits
Take responsibility for your personal challenges and duties. You might not be able to work at your full potential if you put too much on your plate. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. You don’t have to micromanage and do everything on your own.
Similar to knowing what needs to be eliminated, you also need to know when your workload becomes too overwhelming. Taking on more than you can handle may only cause you to crash and burn. As a result, you won’t be able to complete all your work and you’ll be left with a lot of backlog of work to catch up on.
10. Control Your Use Of Technology
As helpful as technology can be as time management tools, there still needs to be a limitation on how you use them for productivity. It can be easy to find yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media for an extended time or getting distracted by your music.
Use technology in moderation or only when necessary. If you really need to stay more productive, then turn off all your distractions and focus instead on your tasks at hand. It can be hard to put away your devices at first but this is where your self-discipline comes in to make this a habit.
11. Establish A Routine
Having a routine helps eliminate decision-making for minor tasks. This, in turn, can help you save on time and energy that can be expended for more important duties. Don’t underestimate how powerful it can be to have habits, especially when it comes to your work. A routine can give your day more structure, which will help you work more systematically as you sift through different assignments and other work endeavors.
12. Always Review And Re-Evaluate
You must review your work as you get through tasks throughout the day. Always be sure to go over your performance and current output along the way to pick up on any errors you might have missed. You can then make any necessary edits or adjustments early. This can save you time as you avoid going back and forth between the editing and finalization of your work.
Additionally, it will be just as important to re-evaluate your current work methods and approaches to productivity. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is conducive to your objective. If needed, ask your co-workers for feedback on your performance. Re-evaluating yourself and your routines can reveal a lot about how you can work smarter, not harder.
13. Use Your Calendar
This might sound like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how many people underuse their calendars. A calendar is good not just to keep track of deadlines but to also schedule out when you need to work on certain tasks. Block out time meant for specific duties to segregate your time properly.
Using a calendar is one of the simplest time management tips for you to adopt, so get yourself a nice desk calendar or planner and put it to good use. If you want to keep things digital and at your fingertips wherever you go, make use of the calendar feature on your smartphone or create a softcopy of your schedule.
14. Focus, Focus, Focus
Staying focused is one of the biggest struggles for anyone who wants to work smarter, not harder. You will need to train your mind to stay on track, so help yourself by controlling the environment you work in as much as you can. Minimize distractions in your workspace or eliminate them entirely if you see the need to do so.
Find your own way of training your mind to focus more. Some people use meditation to clear their minds, others might use mindfulness techniques to concentrate better. Not all techniques work for everyone; what matters is that you’re working towards improving your focus in the first place.
15. Practice Self Care
As previously mentioned, it’s important to take care of yourself first and foremost. You can’t expect yourself to work efficiently — let alone work smarter — if your mind and body aren’t in sync or at their best. You won’t be able to reach your full potential that way and your quality of work will only deteriorate
More people need to recognize the importance of self-care, especially those in work environments or situations that may negatively affect their mental health. Value any personal time you have and make the most out of it. In the end, you’ll be unable to work smarter if your heart isn’t into it. You are your greatest resource, so don’t forget to take care of yourself.
The amount of effort you put into what you do shouldn’t be a measurement of how well you perform as a worker. Make the most out of your time and resources when it comes to your work habits. Everyone has it in them to work smarter, not harder. With the right tools and mindset, you can maximize your efforts in an efficient way, both for you as an individual, and for the work you produce.