“Work Smarter, Not Harder” – a phrase often heard in today’s hyper-tasking world. No matter your industry or role, to get everything done within your deadlines, you may occasionally run short of time. The pang of guilt and the feeling of being overwhelmed may cause you to fall behind, and you aren’t able to catch up. So how do you get things done on time without getting exhausted and overworked? Well, you “work smarter.”
Working smart is all about time management and productivity, but it can be challenging to determine how you can achieve this benchmark. Having self-awareness, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and devising a strategy to prioritize your task list will help you feel satisfied at work with ample downtime.
Smart workers know how to avoid work burnout so they can accomplish important tasks with less effort and time. Therefore, they’re able to strike the perfect work-life balance.
Here are a few tips and techniques that you can employ to “work smarter, not harder."
Cut the Clutter
Whenever you begin to tackle a task, you’ll need to make a to-do list. However, once the list is completed, take a second look at it. You can still trim it down to the bare essentials and save yourself a lot of stress and frustration. The fewer items on your list, the more your mind will be at peace. Concentrate only on points which will allow you to finish your job at one go. If possible, outsource some of the extraneous responsibilities to others, or reprioritize them so you can make every day as efficient as possible.
Write What’s on Your Mind
Whenever you’re faced with a new and important project, you might put in a lot of effort when creating memos, business plans or other written works, ensuring that your first draft is perfect and polished. However, have you ever wondered why that takes so much time? The trick to this is that you should write down whatever goes on in your head without stopping or self-editing yourself. Practicing this type of “brain dump” allows you to get your thoughts down — you can edit them later, but you’ll likely still save time by writing without self-editing first than trying to make your draft perfect the first time.
Always Start Fresh
Picture this: You’ve received a new assignment and you want to impress your colleagues and partners, so you work around the clock to get it perfect in a short time period. After a few days, you will notice a certain lag in your work and you’ll find yourself falling behind on simple tasks. This is because your brain is tired and signaling you to rest. As much as deadlines are important, mental sanity and rest are as well. Whenever you feel that you are going uphill and yearning for a break, you should take it. Get back at it first thing in the morning with a fresh mind and a fresh attitude so you can work more efficiently and be more productive.
The Fabled ‘Parkinson’s Law’
There is a much-touted ‘Parkinson Law’ that holds true for everything with a deadline. It states that ”If you wait until the last minute to do it, it takes only one minute." Needless to say, this is like a double-edged sword. Procrastination will work sometimes, but not all the time. This might work when you are hard pressed, but it is not that great a tactic. It should be used for the less important minor points that you might have relegated from your main list.
In this high-tech world, it is vital (and simple) to keep communicating to everyone in your orbit without disruption. Be very judicious in your modes of communication. Make a call when it’s urgent, drop a message if you have time to spare. If you need details confirmed by signature, consider using snail mail or a signature-providing platform like Docusign. Do not wait for communication to happen from the other side. You should make the effort so you’re always in the loop.
By putting in the time to work efficiently up front, you'll save time and be more productive in the future, allowing you to always "work smarter, not harder."