For years you’ve heard the term work smarter, not harder, but what does this mean. We should all be working hard and giving 100% at everything we do, right? The answer is YES, but there are ways to work smarter without necessarily working harder. People continually complain about not having enough time in the day, yet they do nothing to change that. They continue to do the same thing over and over again, never making any headway. We come home from work at night burnt out from the day with no energy to give back to the family.
Better time management
Working smarter and not harder, all starts with time management skills. If you can’t manage your time correctly, it will feel as though you are constantly spinning your wheels without making any progress. The most significant areas to focus on when it comes to time management are the following:
- Set a time limit of 20-25 minutes to complete a task then take a 5-minute break to clear your head. Get up from your desk or cubicle and walk around, stretch, use the restroom, etc.
- Avoid time-wasting on areas like social media, idle chatter, and anything that doesn’t keep you focused on the task at hand.
- Plan for the next day before you leave work. Planning ahead allows you to set up the next day, and you will know going in what to expect.
Don’t hesitate to delegate
It is critical to come to the realization in life that you can’t do it all (though sometimes people think you can). There is no Superman or Superwoman. They are both fictitious characters. It is impossible to be great at everything, so make sure to focus your time and energy where you feel strongest and enlist the help of others to pick up the slack in areas you are weaker.
If you’re not good at working on spreadsheets, then ask someone who is better versed in this skill to help you. There’s no shame in asking for assistance. Great leaders and successful people are that way because they have surrounded themselves with great people, those that have strengths that they do not. You see this in major corporations and politics all the time. A President picks a cabinet based on people he/she knows can do that job better than they can.
Use To-Do Lists
Write down what needs to be done. I don’t care if it is digitally on a phone or tablet, a big pad, or post-it notes, but write down your to-do list. To-do lists provide you with an outline of targeted activities that need to be handled. They also allow you to see your accomplishments at the end of the day. This is a big motivator for many. If something that was on your to-do list today didn’t get accomplished, then roll it over onto tomorrow’s tasks if it is still of importance.
To-do lists should be manageable. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and utilize the to-do list at home and work. If you looked at my iPhone at any given time, you would find a to-do list of some sort.
If you want to work smarter and not harder, you need to communicate. Communication is an interesting topic these days as people in business and life rely so heavily on email or text messaging. If you aren’t getting a response via these “newer” methods, then pick up a phone. I’ve been in companies before where people who are two cubicles away are emailing each other about a concern or project. Pick up the phone and call them or leave your desk and speak in person.
Speaking on the phone makes it easier than going back and forth in email exchanges. A phone call can often eliminate 30 minutes of back and forth and wasted time via email. Keep your messages short and concise (both email and phone).
Develop a Routine
I can 100% guarantee that people who work smarter follow a routine each day. They do not fly by the seat of their pants and wing it. Whatever your routine is, follow it every day, weekends included. Make sure part of your routine consists of a fitness regimen and proper eating.
One of the most famous life coaches on the planet, Tony Robbins, follows the same routine every morning. I’m not saying this should be yours, but it’s a good example.
- Tony Robbins sticks to a morning routine designed to boost his energy and productivity levels for the day.
- It includes a nutritional supplement, meditation, workout, and sauna-to-cold-plunge combo.
- The entire routine can be done in under 30 minutes — but it’s intense.
For more on Tony’s routine, read this quick article in Business Insider.
Fuel your body and rest
If you want to be at your peak and work smarter and not harder, you need to make sure you are fueling your body correctly and resting. Avoid junk food and fuel your body with proteins, vegetables, and superfoods instead of chips. It’s also essential to get the right amount of sleep each night. You can not be productive and on top of your game with only a few hours of sleep.
Always be learning
Above I talked about delegating to people who are better in certain areas that you are. When you find yourself insufficient in a specific area, take time to brush up on those skills. Watch videos, take classes, read books, and always be learning. Learning should never stop. Become an expert in what you do.
Working smarter, not harder, should be everyone’s goal. The catch is that when you start to see results, it’s easy to think that working an extra hour will get you to do even more. Resist the urge. Leave your office and go home. Tomorrow is another day. Your family will thank you!
What do you do to work smarter and not harder? Comment below.