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6 Tips on Working Smarter, Not Harder

“Smart” is a relative term, and especially if we are talking about working smarter, not harder. After all, what sort of work do you do? If it is mechanical, then your “smarter” is all about efficient movement or logical procedures. If your work is at an office desk, smarter can mean using software, keyboard shortcuts and more. Yet, there are universal ways of working smarter, not harder in order to reach goals and get things done.

Let’s spend time looking at six tips recommended by experts who know all about working smarter, not harder.

1. Make plans – The daily “to do” list is a perfect way to start working smarter, but what about the end of the day? Very few people review and make a new list from that information. To start working smarter, start looking at unfinished tasks at day’s end. Rewrite the to do list to be ready first thing the next day. Remember to prioritize

2. Prioritize – Don’t just number the items on the to do list by deadlines, but also by importance. We know that “80% of accomplishments come from 20% of efforts”. Because of that, you need to strategize. Which 20% of your work is most important? Make it your priority.

3. Use deadlines – This is not about making plans. It is about strategizing (prioritizing) in a managed way. For example, someone who is working smarter, not harder will break a major project into manageable pieces. Each piece has a deadline, meaning you can focus on it and make it your best. This allows you to complete tasks on time and always provide quality work.

4. Perfection – What is more important, the grammatically flawless email to a co-worker or that key project detail? Many people waste time perfecting less important matters. If your goal is working smarter, not harder, don’t sweat the small stuff.

5. Block out – This is a unique way of working smarter, not harder, and very few people do it. It can be done in a few ways. The first is to have a period of time that you “block out” strictly for yourself. It can be to focus on work, problem solve, or just give full attention. Give yourself permission to say, “Sorry, I am busy right now. I will get back to you later.” The second way to “block out” is to simply walk away (physically or mentally) from a task. It may feel counterintuitive, but it actually “clears the deck”. This mental break allows your conscious mind to stop focusing and your subconscious to problem solve.

6. Use tech – Have you ever tracked how much time you waste answering a single email? What about social media? Taking phone calls? Super effective people set aside very fixed windows of time, using tech, to do these tasks. They use timing apps to track time spent on a project. They block social media sites during work hours. They use a single time slot to answer emails.

No matter what you mean by working smarter, you can use these tips to begin doing so. Save time, be more efficient and make the most of your best efforts with these suggestions.