How to Work Smarter, Not Harder

  • Feb 10, 2024

Do you ever find that no matter how hard you're working, you're not getting the results you want? You put in the long hours at the office, you answer every email, you skip lunch, and yet you're still not where you want to be. What could you possibly do to make your working life better?

If you feel like your workdays are not as efficient as you'd like, below are the best tricks on how to work smarter, so that you can reach your goals and earn the success that you deserve.

Set deadlines

Giving yourself a certain amount of time to complete a task will force you to concentrate. Not having a deadline can make the task drag on and on because you allow yourself to get distracted. Try setting aside an hour to really work on a project and you might surprise yourself with your productivity!

Helpful applications that block distracting websites are Self-Control (for Mac users) and Freedom (for PC users). These apps allow you to set a timer for how long you want to block sites, ensuring that you stay on top of your work.

Take breaks

Sometimes when you're working overtime on a project, your brain can get a little fried. Scattered thoughts will puncture your concentration and you'll lose momentum. When you feel like you're stuck on a project, try taking a step back for five minutes. Go for a walk or take a coffee break to help clear your mind. Giving your brain a siesta from a daunting task can help lower your stress levels and better your overall health.

A 2015 health study showed that employees showed more energy, more motivation to work harder, and better communication after a morning break.

Limit Your Email

It is a common belief that checking email throughout the day means you are being proactive and staying up to date on all your projects. However, the ping of a new email can trap your gaze on your inbox instead of your important tasks. You are never going to be free from all distractions, but you can at least limit yourself to checking your email only two to three times a day - perhaps in the morning, after lunch, and before you leave the office. You can also go into your email settings on your desktop or smartphone and turn off the pop-up notifications.

Have a “to-don’t” list

A new day means a fresh start to your efficiency and productivity. Perhaps you start your day by creating a to-do list of everything you need to accomplish before clocking out. But in order to get a balanced workday, you should also create a to-don't list.

Whether you're guilty of brooding over mistakes or trying to be perfect 100% of the time, to-don't lists remind you of what you shouldn't be wasting your time on. Reminding yourself to ignore the non-essential tasks and negative thoughts on your to-don't list will keep you productive and present the rest of the day.

Ask for help

One thing you should add to your to-don't list is thinking you can do it all. Sometimes the best results come from getting the help of others. If you are unsure about a certain project you've been assigned, don't hesitate in asking for assistance. Instead of spending countless hours working on a task only to find out that you've been doing it wrong the whole time, save yourself the heartache and just ask someone - even if it's just for clarification.

Remember, the most successful people got to where they are through the help of their peers. Don't be an island!

Delegate, delegate, delegate!

Along with asking for help, it is also a good idea to assign little tasks to other people on your team. If you know that you are going to be overwhelmed, do not hesitate in making your day a little easier. Delegating tasks to others can free up your time to focus on the more important items on your agenda.

If you can automate the tasks that take you the most time, you can spend more time selling.

Think of the Big Picture

Each of us has a reason for getting up in the morning. We each have a purpose for doing what we do. Unfortunately, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture when you're overwhelmed with tasks. But, when you think about the impact your work will have on a bigger scale, you will have the right mindset as you work. Try writing out a list of goals that capture the vision of where you want your work to go.

"People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe." - Simon Sinek

Have your tasks, goals, and projects center around why you come to work every day.

Take care of YOU

As much as we all try, we're not superheroes. Sometimes we get sick, or stress out over the little things, or forget what we were saying mid-sentence. We're human, which is why it is imperative that we take care of ourselves.

Sometimes it can be difficult to switch off your working mode. You leave the office, but you can't stop checking your emails and working on projects at home. As ambitious as it sounds, this can be detrimental to your mental health.

Make sure when you leave the office, you're leaving the office. The world will not come to an end if you wait until the next day to continue your project. Give your mind and body a break. Spend your free time exercising, spending time with friends and family, discovering a new hobby, or simply relaxing.

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