Getting smart is big business. Work smart, not hard and you could find yourself better off all round!
Lots of us say we want to work smart, not hard. In fact, we can often reflect on the day and wish we’d not spent as much time doing something, or spending more time doing something else.
Technology companies (and their marketers) know this too. Think about all of the products you have that are branded “smart”. Your phone, your home, your car – even your kitchen appliances. These are all things designed to work for you more conveniently or more quickly.
Why work smart?
You should work smart, not hard because that is the key to greater productivity.
Hard work is mentally and physically exhausting. It draws off energy that you need to maintain things that really matter in your life, like your family relations and friendship. Instead of working yourself to exhaustion, figure out ways to work smarter. Find ways to achieve the same desired outcome, but with less energy.
Not only will you become happier, but saving effort also saves money. Streamlining process to save costs makes you a more valuable resource to your employer. This, in turn, makes you feel more confident, more inspired, and more willing to do whatever it takes whenever necessary.
Working smart doesn’t mean you don’t work hard. However, when possible, do your work in short bursts rather than in long, sustained pushes. Fifteen to twenty-minute intervals with a five-minute “pause” to plan where you’re going next with the project will give you more energy and produce a better end product than if you have to pull it together at the last minute.
Need some tips to work smart, not hard?
Prioritise what you must do, delegate everything else. Balance your priorities with practicalities. Got a non-urgent job, that only takes 10 minutes? Do it now and get it off the desk. More than 10 minutes, then schedule it in and give it the priority it deserves.
It is easier said than done, plus, we are all guilty of getting caught up in tasks we shouldn’t be doing. Those jobs then end up taking priority over what we should be doing. However, we should always remember to make our own tasks a priority.
Each person is responsible for their own work, but it is possible for a whole team to work smart, not hard. Try considering how each person’s strengths can be used to get the job done.
Make sure this is managed effectively. Without a clear and concise process to stick to, employees and employers may find themselves running in circles. This leads to extra work, simply due to being unorganised. With a detailed, proper plan in place for every step of a project, employees can rely on this when problems arise and can give them the ability to work more efficiently.
Keep meetings succinct
We’ve all been there. You know, those meetings. The ones that go on and on, you start thinking I’ve got better things to do than this! Try to limit meetings to 30 minutes where possible, with a specific desired outcome.
If you don’t think you can cover everything in 30 minutes or certain people can’t contribute to the outcome, then you probably need a few 30-minute meetings with different groups of participants. Long, tedious or irrelevant meetings are not just a time suck for individuals, they are a drag on effectiveness.
Do one thing at a time
A lot of people think working smarter means multitasking, but not always. The truth is, you are much more productive if you do one single thing at a time. Chart your day, figuring out a to-do list and focus on the most important task first. You might actually find you need to slow down a bit, in order to improve productivity.
This may sound counterproductive, but slowing down and thinking about the approach to a situation will help you identify more efficient ways of accomplishing the same task or project. Just five minutes of thinking before doing will help you consider the domino effects of your actions.
By slowing things down, you may not achieve productivity, but you can still achieve value. Psychologist Morten Hansen describes a similar concept in his book “Great at Work”. He says that preoccupation with our own objectives (or productivity, “getting things done”), often serves as an obstacle to advancing our agenda. In other words, working on one thing at a time can still achieve value, even though it is low productivity.
Use technology to your advantage
There is a tech platform for almost every aspect of business – project management, sales, client interaction scheduling, employee management, etc. It’s important to keep your eyes and ears open for new tech and embrace it. Often times, technology means streamlining efforts and automating tedious work, which frees up time for more important and productive tasks. If you truly want to work smarter, not harder, technology can be an extremely cost-effective way to help you achieve this.
It is possible to work smart, not hard, in all things you do. If you are finding yourself stressed out with very little time for yourself, you might want to follow some of these tips for yourself!