You’ve probably heard the old adage, “Work smarter not harder.” But sometimes it’s easier said than done. We all want to get our work completed quickly so we can have more time to relax, but how do you work smarter? Here are 8 tips for working smarter not harder.
1 – Master Your Priority
Take responsibility for your time, your calendar, and your commitments. Treat yourself well by learning to say NO to the trap of doing non-essential things.
Decide early in the day what needs your full focus and do that ONE thing before moving on to the next priority.
2 – Master Your Time
You need to gently but firmly make sure that family, friends, and co-workers understand that time is precious.
Create boundaries around your time the same way you put a fence around your yard. That doesn’t mean that there’s no room for these people on your calendar (or in your yard), but it does mean that you’re intentional with how you choose to spend your precious hours.
Set aside time for your family, leave your work at work, and know when to say no to opportunities that are not in line with your priorities.
If you feel like you have to say yes to everyone else’s requests and never get to say yes to yourself, this is the book for you. You’ll learn when to say yes and know how to say no in a way that is respectful of both yourself and others. Learn how to set reasonable boundaries with your spouse, children, friends, parents, co-workers, and even yourself.
3 – Master Planning
Have you ever seen someone attempt to build a backyard deck (or Ikea furniture) without following a plan?
🤦♂️Yeah, that never goes well.
Very few people have the skills to do priority tasks without careful planning.
A simple brainstorm or mind-map can often save hours of frustration.
Following a well thought out plan helps you manage your time effectively and reach your goals more quickly because you start with the end in mind.
4 – Master Delegation
Not every task on your list has to be done by you.
You’ve got to humble yourself and realize that you can’t, and shouldn’t do everything. Be a leader and share your workload.
Michael Hyatt once told me the story of how his wife Gail was unsure about getting someone to help her around the house. As a mother, she felt like she was falling short if she couldn’t take care of their five daughters and the household responsibilities.
He then shared the rest of his conversation with Gail explaining that if they didn’t hire someone, they would be denying that person the opportunity to work on the tasks they loved and live their happiest life.
People love helping others. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, so let others help you.
When they receive thanks or heck…even a paycheck, they feel that their efforts are worth the time they put in.
Too many people think that productivity is just about getting more things done at a faster speed. But it’s not. Productivity is about getting the right things done. In this must-read productivity book, Michael Hyatt shares a system that anyone can use to finally get past just checking boxes on your task list. This short book shows you how to focus on what’s most important, get rid of distractions, delegate like a master, and take action each day to reach your goals.
5 – Master Breaks
It’s smarter to take breaks.
Most of the time when you have been head-down working hard on a project, either doing short bursts or working long stretches, you absolutely need a break.
When I was teaching, I had a saying, “If your butt’s asleep, your brain’s asleep.”
Of course, this made the middle schoolers laugh, but there is truth here. You can’t think if you’re not rested.
Just like King Julien says in Madagascar, you need to move it, move it.
Doing work in one spot or sitting still for hours at a time will make your butt and your brain numb. And as fun as that sounds…it’s not.
Moving around helps you stay sharp and focused. Letting yourself get overwhelmed and tired leads to making careless mistakes.
At the end of all your hard work, you don’t want to go back later to find that you have to re-do major parts of your project because of careless mistakes that could have been fixed by resting.
Taking short, scheduled, breaks will keep you working at your best when you need it.
6 – Master Phone Calls
Actually pick up the phone.
In today’s world, most people rely on email, Slack, or text messages to contact people, even within their own organization.
Information gets lost in the firehose of messages, or worse, you end up writing what seems like a detailed manual for something that should be stupid-simple.
Speed things up by calling instead.
You’ll also realize how much more personal a call is and how much people appreciate the clarity that comes with a real conversation.
7 – Master Automation
Put repetitive tasks on auto-pilot.
Throughout the day, you probably find yourself doing the same repetitive tasks over and over again. Put an end to that by working smarter, not harder.
Using templates, repeating tasks, or even automation software like Zapier or IFTTT, will save you hours.
For example, if you share your latest blog post to 3 different social media channels every time you hit publish, save yourself the time by creating an automation in Zapier that uses the RSS feed to share it automatically.
8 – Master Deadlines
Set and keep deadlines not just for your high priority items but for everything.
Sometimes deadlines change and you need to move the completion date. People understand that.
But, procrastinating important work now means that you will have to work harder later.
First, you have to double-down on work just to catch up.
Then you explain to your boss and family why you’re behind and working such long hours.
Set deadlines for your tasks, then actually complete them on time. Have a small reward and then get busy and nailing the next deadline.
If you don’t know where to begin and need more help to work smarter, apply now for a free 15-minute coaching call to solve your number one productivity problem.