Work Smarter, Not Harder

efficiency productivity work Apr 27, 2022

There's a common misconception that success comes from working hard. And while this may be true for some people, it's not always the best way to achieve your goals. Working long hours can lead to decreased productivity and decreased efficiency. That's why it's essential to learn to work smarter, not harder. This blog post will discuss a few tips to help you become more productive and achieve more in less time.

Working hard doesn't always equate to productivity and efficiency.

When it comes to working hard, what's the first thing that comes into your mind? Is it working long hours every day, every week? There's the danger of tiring yourself out if you do overtime every day. Working for more hours may mean getting more things done, but are you able to consistently produce good quality work? The truth is that there is a limit to our energy levels, and even the most diligent and capable workers will eventually feel tired if they work too much. More hours rendered for work don't always equate to productivity and efficiency.

Wouldn't it be better to finish what you need to do for work in less time while still delivering high-quality outputs? But unfortunately, some companies shun the idea of getting the job done in less time. So most people still get stuck working for a fixed schedule of 8 to 9 hours a day, maybe even greater. Some companies even implement mandatory overtime for some days, so don't be surprised to see people who work for more than 60 hours a week. Unfortunately, some jobs demand long work hours, such as being a truck driver, manager, or those that work in the medical field. It may not be easy to implement efficiency tactics to reduce working hours in jobs like these. Still, for some, such as jobs involving office work, processes can be streamlined and made more effective to cut the time needed to finish something.

You are fortunate if you have the option to be able to work smarter in your job by prioritizing efficiency to finish things faster while remaining productive, all while having a flexible or more manageable work schedule. Those who do freelancing work or remote jobs will most likely enjoy this option. Still, for those of us who have fixed work schedules, it's possible to work smarter and get things done in less time, so you can advance work and get better ahead of your job. Several tricks can allow one to work smarter.

1. Learn to manage time well

Time management is essential in working smarter. It's all about making the best use of your time, so nothing gets wasted, and you do something productive or meaningful every time. Examples of good time management include:

  • Doing a time study so you can know how long it takes you to finish a particular task
  • Setting a start time for a specific job and an end time for when you should finish it
  • Setting deadlines for your tasks
  • Thinking about doing something else whenever you gain some extra time for finishing early
  • Setting aside a separate time for breaks and leisure

Time is a finite resource, and by learning to utilize it well to do your work, you'll get to enjoy more of it to spend doing the things you love.

2. Don't be afraid to use shortcuts

There are several processes involved for every work we do to get it done. Observe what you do and figure out if you can make the processes easier and faster. For example, if your work involves typing on the computer and using various functions from the applications you use, why not try learning and memorizing keyboard shortcuts and using them every time? If your job involves delivering goods to people, you can learn road shortcuts that will help you get to your destination faster. If you manage your business, you can try delegating work to others so that you can focus more on administrative tasks.

Utilizing shortcuts in work doesn't equate to laziness. As long as you remain productive and deliver the same quality of work or better, being efficient will work for you and your employer in the long run.

3. Invest in technology

Technology is everywhere, so why not take advantage of it to make life easier and finish work with less effort? Most jobs utilize technology already in their processes. If you are the owner of a business or company, using the best technology, such as computers with good specs to ensure high performance, can help things get done faster and better. As an employee, you might think you won't have much of a voice, but you can try requesting from the administration of your company to provide you with better equipment to help do your work better and faster. It's a joy to work with a fast computer that doesn't lag and gets buggy when doing your job. Also, if you find that some of the things you do are repetitive, you can ask the IT department to create a program that can automate repetitive tasks. Smartphones also have apps that aid in productivity, so it's handy to have one, which you probably already do.

If you are self-employed, you will need to shell out a significant amount of money for better tech, but it will be worth it. Think of it as an investment that can help you produce more effective results later.

4. Minimize distractions and stop procrastinating

Two of your biggest time wasters are distractions and procrastination. Distractions, such as notifications from your cellphone or doing something nonwork-related, puts you out of focus on what you are doing and can affect the quality of your work. The same things happen with procrastination when we put off doing something because we don't like it or feel lazy. When you hold off things until the last minute, it can be a risky maneuver and jeopardize your work.

If you must attend to notifications or other things that can disturb you from work, try to set a separate time for them. As for procrastination, there are ways to get rid of this habit, but it can take time, especially if you are a regular procrastinator. However, by minimizing the time you spend on things that don't contribute to your work, you can be more efficient and get things done faster.

5. Don't overstuff your to-do list

Doing many things to make yourself look busy may not necessarily be helpful. It can confuse you about what to do first and shift your focus from one thing to another, so you should avoid multitasking. On the other hand, don't overstuff your to-do lists with too many tasks to work smarter. For your daily to-do list, write only the things you are sure you can finish within the day or do a significant chunk off before continuing the next day. Then, if there is still spare time for work within the day, you can try doing a task for the next day or do something else you need that is not work-related. Know your limits and do what you can within the limit. Planning well and learning which tasks to prioritize can help you determine what to put on your daily to-do list.

6. Take advantage of when you are most productive

Do you notice that time of the day when you are most effective and full of energy in your everyday life? You can use this to your advantage by doing the most difficult or strenuous work during your uptime moment. It differs for everyone; for some, it can be during the mornings, while some will be more productive after lunch. Whatever the time is for you, do your most demanding work when your attention span is at its peak and you are very willing to do work. You can then do less demanding during your downtime and still be able to accomplish something because you tackled the more challenging tasks already.

7. Establish a daily routine

One of the ways to work smarter is by creating a daily routine that works for you and helps get things done. You can try establishing your morning routine of getting up from bed, eating, exercising, doing a little leisurely activity, bathing, and going to work. Afterward, you can plan out which tasks need to be done every day and in what order, and then set up a time for miscellaneous tasks that are generally not part of your daily work. In the afternoon, you can plan what activities to do to mop out the rest of the day, and you can even create a routine of what you will do once work is done. Remember to incorporate some flexibility into your daily routine, as there will always be unforeseen things that can shake up your life. They will become a habit when you keep doing the same things every day. Once things become a habit, the need to decide what to do, which can eat time, will be lessened, allowing you to go straight to what you need to do, thus saving time.

Working smart is always an option.

Our employers might not be flexible enough to grant us a work schedule that demands fewer hours or flexible enough to suit our needs. However, we can take it to ourselves to devise ways to make work easier and take advantage of what's around us and what we can do. Whatever we decide, it must be something that gives us satisfaction while delivering good quality work and not compromising our job by taking more accessible methods of doing things. Also, whatever productivity hack you employ, don't forget to include breaks in your schedule. They help refresh your mind and renew your energy to continue working without feeling like you're dragging yourself to finish the workday.

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