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22 Ways to Work Smarter, not Harder

You are aware of how much effort you put forth daily. Your mind almost certainly knows it, and your body almost certainly already knows it.

Perhaps you’ve thought about the number of projects you’re currently working on or the length of your commute to work. You may be making progress, but it could drain your energy.

You are not intimidated by the prospect of exerting yourself. However, you aren’t certain that you can continue to find new ways to work even more diligently.

Have you ever wondered if there is a superior or more efficient


It’s time to ask yourself if you could be working smarter, not harder, instead of putting in the same amount of effort if you want to get someplace without going down the road that leads to burnout.

I work hard, but what can I do to work smarter?

The vast majority of us have room to improve our productivity. Over time, we can fall into poor habits or continue performing tasks in the same manner despite having access to tools that would allow us to perform them more easily.

But when you think about working smarter, pay attention to effectiveness before worrying about how efficiently you work. What result do you hope to accomplish, and is there a more efficient way to get there?

It is possible that you do not have control over the most efficient means of achieving a result, depending on your role. For example, perhaps your supervisor expects you to complete a tedious form daily rather than sending a brief instant message. To work smarter, you should at least ask, “Is there a better way?” regularly. This is true even if you don’t control all of your work. Is there anything I could cut out of my routine?

Why it’s a good idea to work smarter rather than harder

Your time and effort are not resources that you should throw away. Working more efficiently saves you time and makes better use of your energy. It allows you to spend less time exerting your energy and more time preserving it so that you can do other things that are more important to you.

In addition to this, it will make you a more productive worker. You are aware of the tasks that need to be completed, in what order those tasks need to be completed, and the best strategies to use to complete those tasks.

When you start working smarter, rather than harder, you will reap the following additional benefits:

  • When you work smarter, you can also rest smarter because it frees up more time for you to do so. It affords you additional time, allowing you to engage in a wider variety of restful activities. This could be accomplished through meditation, mindfulness, or even by taking a nap. It has been discovered that taking brief naps can make your memory sharper, improve your mood, and stimulate your creativity.
  • Helps to prevent or recover from burnout. Burnout is when a person’s energy levels plummet, and mental health suffers. On the other hand, working smarter enables you to be mindful of your energy, which can help you recover from burnout or reduce its severity. One of the most effective ways to better your life is to learn to align your work with your values, your interests, and your aspirations.
  • Working smarter, rather than working longer hours and letting your professional life consume you, frees up more time for your personal life. This is preferable to working longer hours and letting your professional life consume you. Working more efficiently is a great practice for time management because it enables you to achieve a greater sense of balance in your life and meet deadlines on time.
  • Motivates you to work harder: After a few days of working smarter, the difference will be difficult to ignore. This will boost your motivation to work. Because you will be more productive and feel positive about your work, you will experience an increase in motivation. You will soon be able to see the positive effects this new strategy has on you, which will encourage you to pursue additional objectives and maintain your progress.

22 tips for working smarter, not harder.

Working with a coach to determine which approaches are most effective in assisting you to achieve your goals, streamline your workflow, and get rid of tasks that aren’t necessary can be a very beneficial investment. In the meantime, we have compiled these 22 suggestions for you to try to improve your work’s efficiency.

1. Say goodbye to multitasking.

When you have too many things going on at once, it may give the impression that you are productive, but in reality, you are just spreading yourself too thin. One thing at a time is all that your cerebral cortex can focus on paying attention to. Trying to focus your energy and attention on too many different things simultaneously strains your cortex, which can be caused by multitasking.

Suddenly switching tasks can detract from the quality of your work because it makes it difficult to concentrate on new things when you constantly switch between tasks. Your productivity will suffer if you cannot give each task the attention and energy required.

If you are quickly moving from one task to another, you should try to slow down by taking some slow, deep breaths. If you make decisions deliberately, you can concentrate on one task and fight off the temptation to switch to another. This requires a lot of practice. It is important to remember that you will complete each task more quickly and effectively if you concentrate on just one at a time, even if you have the impression that you will get more done otherwise.

2. Tasks should be completed in batches.

Keeping your momentum can be as simple as tackling your tasks in batches. You can complete one task at a time if you do it this way.

Take the initiative and set aside time in your schedule for activities that require little thought. For instance, rather than responding to emails whenever they come in, set aside a specific time each day to handle your incoming messages. Blocking out chunks of time during your day, also known as time blocking, is a strategy that can help you deal with situations like these.

This way, you can determine when to respond to emails or organize yourself. Whenever you get an email, rest assured that it will be attended to later in the day. This will reduce the number of interruptions that occur while you are working on important tasks, and it will help you establish a better rhythm within your structured workflow.

3. Take breaks.

It is essential to remember to take breaks, even if you are experiencing feelings of exhaustion because you have so many things on your to-do list. After concentrating for an excessive amount of time, your attention level decreases, so scheduling breaks into your workday is important. Make sure that you get up and stretch, that you drink some water, and that you eat something during your breaks.

In addition, this type of schedule requires effective time management skills. Despite the anxiety, setting deadlines on how long you’ll work on an assignment and pre-scheduling breaks will increase your efficiency. Limiting how long you spend working on a particular task can be done anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

Experiment with various methods of taking breaks until you find an effective one. One such method is the Pomodoro technique, which entails working for 25 minutes and a five-minute break. You are doing a favor for your performance and health whenever you take a break, regardless of how long the break is.

4. Mark your calendar.

Organizing your day so that you have specific blocks of time set aside for work helps reduce the number of interruptions you experience. Consider both how you plan out your day and the potential interruptions that may come your way.

Do you prefer to finish your work in the morning, but do you have a meeting every day? When you’re in the middle of something important at work, do your coworkers interrupt you to ask questions? Use one of the many tools available to you to manage your calendar, schedule time for concentration, and block notifications. After that, adhere to your schedule.

5. Get started keeping track of your time.

Investigating the causes of times and places when your productivity is lower than usual is in your best interest. Use a time-tracking app like Time Doctor or Reporter, and keep a log of how you spend your time for a few days so that you can examine the websites you go to when you get distracted. Moving forward, this will assist you in determining which applications’ notifications need to be muted and which should be avoided while you are working.

There may also be a pattern in the interruptions you experience, such as when trying to work through lunch, which may motivate you to adjust your schedule. As soon as you become aware of patterns in your time, you can experiment with replacing them with other beneficial routines, such as a brief stretch or a glass of water, which afford a brief respite without derailing your productivity.

6. Group together tasks that are similar to one another.

Because you won’t have to switch gears as frequently between the various kinds of work, you’ll be able to get more done by combining similar tasks. Because of this, you can finish many little jobs in one go, which is especially helpful for those jobs (and get a nice kick of productivity).

In addition, you can consciously schedule time away from activities that divert your attention, such as responding to text messages or checking your social media feed. You can even group several smaller tasks and get them done between meetings.

7. Plan your activities according to how much energy you have available.

When planning our work, we tend to ignore our energy levels, even though they are a major player in productivity. Everyone’s energy levels peak at different times because our bodies have internal clocks, which are called circadian rhythms.

If you know, for example, that you are at your most productive right before lunch, you shouldn’t schedule any meetings or email catch-up time during that time. Instead, schedule the most difficult work for the times of day when you have the most energy, and save the easy tasks when you are struggling to keep your eyes open.

8. Reduce your to-do list.

Having fewer items on one’s to-do list is less intimidating and more doable. If you’re getting real work done, there’s nothing wrong with having a short list of things to do. Beginning with your MITs (most important tasks), narrow the list down to no more than three items.

9. Turn off the alerts and notifications.

It is not productive for you to have notifications from Facebook or Twitter while attempting to get work done. It does nothing but waste your time and pull your attention away from the more important tasks at hand. In addition, if you are waiting for a response to a message, you may have a harder time concentrating.

Your productivity will increase if you disable notifications for apps that aren’t directly related to your work. Most modern smartphones include a “Do Not Disturb” function that restricts notifications or a “DownTime” feature that prevents you from using social media or other unproductive apps during certain times of the day.

10. Take an afternoon nap (with a cup of coffee).

Your memory will thank you, and you’ll be able to better retain the information you’ve just learned if you take a nap. When your energy levels are low, the most effective way to boost them is to take a short nap. This point cannot be emphasized enough. If you want the most significant increase in your energy level, try having a cup of coffee right before taking a short nap.

Caffeine has a 20-minute lag in terms of physiological effects, so downing a cup and then hitting the hay (assuming you fall asleep right away) is a great tactic for feeling even more refreshed when you wake up.

11. Take advantage of the great outdoors.

It is helpful to have a change of scenery whenever you find yourself at a standstill with the work that you are doing. If you’re feeling hemmed in on the inside, you won’t be able to focus on the most important aspects of your work. Going outside for fresh air and exercise is a great way to reduce stress, calm down, and refocus your attention. If you have some spare time during your lunch break, you could try taking a stroll in the nearby park and deep breaths of fresh air. Your mental health will be grateful to you for it.

12. Adjust your attitude.

It happens to the best of us. Concentrating excessively on the unfavorable aspects of one’s work can distract one from being productive. It is essential to pick yourself up and remind yourself why you came to this place in the first place. If you want a better attitude when you’re working, it can help to think about the good things that happen in your day-to-day life. What aspects of today make you thankful to be alive?

13. Establish a pattern, and be sure to follow it.

If you have a good start to the day, getting into a productive routine of working each day will be much simpler. You are still getting ready for a productive day of work, even if the first things you do in the morning are making your bed and washing your face.

Every night, before you go to bed, list the things you want to accomplish the following day and arrange them in the order of morning, afternoon, and evening. Forming a new habit typically takes 66 days of consistent effort.

14. Use a pen and paper instead.

When managing our workload, getting caught up in the tools and apps we use is easy. You can regain your concentration by using a pen and paper to create a straightforward list of the things you need to improve upon. This will help you get back on track.

You should also consider using pen and paper when taking notes during a presentation. If you take notes using pen and paper, you will be less likely to be distracted by the constant pinging of notifications (or just the potential for distraction) from your computer.

15. Keep track of your time and evaluate your performance.

Try keeping a log of everything you do for a couple of days to figure out how and where you’re wasting time. Keeping a running list on paper of what you do throughout the day and the time they take can be an effective method.

It will be easier to determine what is working and what is not if you regularly review your progress. You should remind yourself once a week or once a month to review what you have finished. Also, mentally note the things that gave you the most trouble.

You can use a time-tracking app to do the heavy lifting for you, and you can even automate the process, which will allow you to start and stop your time tracking based on events that occur in the other apps you use the most.

16. Improve your ability to communicate with others.

To succeed as an entrepreneur or a chief executive officer, you need to have strong communication skills. Improving your communication skills will benefit you and the people around you.

When a coworker or boss can communicate clearly, they help save everyone else’s time and their own. Your ability to make decisions is improved as a direct result of your increased focus on clear and concise communication.

Begin by showing interest in other people and limiting your conversation to one subject at a time. Ensure that any information you send via email or instant message is concise and gets straight to the point. You’ll be able to get more done if you spend less time responding to inquiries or asking new ones.

17. Maintain an orderly and manageable to-do list.

When you put an unrealistic amount of daily tasks on your list of things to do, it can lead to disappointment when you cannot complete all of them. Keeping your list concise makes it easier to manage and provides more value.

Your goal should be to prioritize no more than five of the tasks that you have to finish. Everything else is a bonus after that point. You will feel accomplished at the end of the day, knowing you have completed all your significant responsibilities. In addition, making your to-do list more manageable enables you to slow down and approach your work more intentionally when completed. You won’t have to take any shortcuts or rush through the tasks to check everything off an impossible list.

Planning out your work several days in advance is another helpful strategy. Examine the schedule for the upcoming week and formulate a strategy before the start of each new one. Identify the times of day when you are most productive, and schedule activities requiring the most effort and thought. Put off until later in the day the less taxing, more mundane tasks that need to be done. The activities that are most important to you will receive your best effort.

If there is software or automation available that can handle these labor-intensive and repetitive tasks, they might be candidates for elimination. You might want to consider devoting some time to improving those processes.

18. Work in a field that interests you.

Doing what you enjoy may seem like stating the obvious, but trust us when we say doing so will make all the difference. Selecting projects in which you have a strong interest inflames your desire to perform to the best of your abilities. It also makes the work seem like less of an effort to complete. Having a job that you enjoy will not make all of your jobs your favorites, but having at least one will give you something to look forward to daily and will benefit your mental health.

Consider what it is about the work that inspires you, and then consciously decide to focus on developing those aspects. If doing so requires a change in employment, then the time may have come for the transition.

19. Acquire the skill of saying “no.”

Do you try to make everyone happy? Do you take pleasure in assisting other individuals whenever they request you? When you always say yes to other people’s requests, you may put your requirements last.

You can better prioritize your efforts and energy once you master saying “no” or “not right now.” When time is of the essence, you must prioritize your work over assisting others. This does not mean you should never help your coworkers, but you should be aware of when your work should take precedence.

20. In the beginning, pose some questions.

Instead of waiting until the very last second to ask your questions or seek guidance, you should get started as soon as possible. It assists you in recognizing and finding solutions to problems that may arise in the future.

In addition, you don’t want to tire yourself out by attempting to resolve it alone if you know your manager could assist you. By doing things this way, you will finish tasks more quickly and avoid wasting time trying to find solutions. If it is a question about a task you perform repeatedly or frequently, the answer will also help you become more efficient in the future.

21. Get a head start on the day.

The head start on a day that cannot be matched is gained by rising early and getting out of bed.

It is common knowledge that highly productive people like writers, artists, and executives are early risers. Even Hemingway was on board with this concept. He explained the benefits of beginning work in the early morning by saying, “There is no one to disturb you, and it is cool or cold, and you come to your work and warm up as you write.”

Some writers even try to cram “two mornings” into one day by getting up extremely early to write and then going back to bed until 8 or 9 in the morning, when they wake up and get ready for “busy” work. This allows them to get more done during the day.

22. Adjust your music so that it fits in with what you’re doing.

Play some of your favorite songs loudly while you work on something simple that doesn’t require much mental effort. This will help you get in the zone and get more work done. Research indicates that when we listen to music, not only do we perform tasks more effectively, but it also helps us feel less stressed. It is essential to select appropriate music to accompany the various types of work. For instance, listening to narrative lyrics while attempting to perform cognitive work can be distracting, whereas listening to upbeat tempos works very well for performing repetitive tasks. You want songs that people are familiar with but that won’t be distracting.

Final Thoughts

Remember that implementing these suggestions for more efficient work won’t magically transform your life overnight. It will take some time for you to practice these smart working strategies, and you will need to try out a few different approaches before settling on one.

It’s possible that some of these suggestions won’t work for you after you give them a shot, and that’s perfectly fine. You’ve realized what doesn’t work for you, and as a result, you’re ditching the working habits that contributed to its creation.

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