10 Best Tips to Work Smart And Not Hard

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The concept of working smarter and not harder isn’t anything new. Working hard means you have to put long hours into work to be successful in the long run. You have to start early before everyone else and stay up late when everyone else is done for the day.

Working smart, on the other hand, essentially means figuring out your strengths and weaknesses and building a network around you to help you reach your goals in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

Working smarter instead of harder can improve your productivity and performance while increasing your overall job satisfaction. It also makes you invaluable to the organisation, thus increasing your job security.

10 Best Tips to Work Smart And Not Hard

So, if you want to start working smarter, here’s what you need to do.

1. Stop multitasking

Although some might disagree, multitasking is not as effective as you might think. The reality is that it’s impossible for you to truly focus on multiple tasks that require substantial focus. You might feel like you’re doing pretty good, managing more than one task at a time, but switching between one or the other, makes it difficult to get jobs well and thoroughly completed.

Each time you try doing this, you’re putting your mental health at risk. Don’t waste your energy trying to do so many things at once. Instead, focus on one activity and, once completed, move on to the next. The results are so much better this way.

Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact; task-switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work, and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

That’s why, even though you have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything at all. Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be tough, but the benefits are worth it.

You make fewer mistakes, get more done and feel a lot less tired at the end of the day. And in addition, don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the next.

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10 Tips to Work Smart And Not Hard

2. Take enough breaks

When you’re rushing to meet a deadline or accomplish a formidable challenge that puts you under a lot of pressure, it can be tempting to push your focus past the point of fatigue. But each time we fail to take breaks, our brains get tired, and we quickly get distracted.

Many employees are used to working indefinitely without taking a break. The excuse for doing so is usually a high workload, a deadline, a long-term sick colleague or an urgent request from a hugely important client. Yet, despite all those urgent matters, it’s essential to take a break.

Taking a much-needed break is vital if you want to perform at your best. One study found that the human brain’s attentional resources drop after a long period of focusing on a single task, decreasing our ability to focus and hindering performance.

When faced with long tasks, be it studying for a paper or doing taxes, it’s best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Short mental breaks actually help you stay focused on your task.

3. Batch similar tasks together

Batching is a workplace efficiency method that involves grouping similar tasks together. This enables you to complete them quickly without time wasted with interruptions or switching to other tasks. As a result, batching improves productivity, increases concentration, and reduces time-consuming mistakes.

This method helps you become more efficient because you’re not switching back and forth between different types of work. This is especially useful for small tasks because you can do away with a lot at once.

The whole point of this strategy is to tackle tasks in chunks to improve productivity. The logic behind this is that it takes time to get into a rhythm. If you constantly start and stop that process, you’re wasting time trying to catch up where you left off.

When you’re batching, you simply have to focus on completing the same or similar tasks continuously until the work is finished. This allows you to get into a rhythm and decrease your time on each individual task.

Of course, it takes effort for your brain to shift between multiple tasks, but focusing on only one allows you to focus more easily.

4. Schedule tasks based on your energy levels

Our energy levels are a major factor in productivity, yet we ignore it when planning our work. Everyone’s energy spikes at different times. If you know you’re most productive after lunch, don’t schedule checking emails or plan meetings then.

Instead, put your most challenging work during the times when you’re most energetic and save the easy ones for when you start becoming sluggish or weary. Instead of trying to accomplish everything, focus on tasks that will have the most significant long-term impact.

5. Delegate more

One of the best ways to practice smart leadership is to delegate tasks to your team so you can focus your energy on the responsibilities that are specifically yours. At the same time, it’s important to plan and prioritise the work so that your team can operate as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

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While delegation makes you and the organisation more productive, one has to be careful. You need to ensure you have competent people on your team. It’s also important to allocate work in ways that empower others to do their best and play to their strengths.

As a leader, delegating is crucial because you can’t and shouldn’t do everything yourself. Delegating empowers the team, builds trust, and enables professional development. If you delegate well, you can increase trust and commitment with your employees, improve productivity, and ensure the right people perform the tasks that best suit them.

6. Know when to quit

However counterintuitive it might seem, it’s important to know when to shut down your computer for the day. The signs are always there. Your mind wanders, you keep rereading the same sentence over and over, or maybe you’re stuck, and it’s taking you longer than usual to draft an email.

Burning the midnight oil might be tempting, but you’ll accomplish more in the long run by stopping and carrying on the next day. Recent studies show that millions of people regularly work overtime without receiving extra pay.

Whether it’s due to a busy schedule, serious workload or simply because of their employer’s expectations, working late is one of the top factors in the ongoing conflict between work, and the rest of your life. Even if you love your job very much, there are reasons why you should leave work on time anyway. For one, you need to recharge your batteries.

People think that working late signifies you’re putting in a lot of effort. But, this isn’t always true, and in fact, it can even suggest the opposite. Working late is also bad for your health. Making sure you’re well-rested will boost your productivity during your working hours. Working late can also make you feel resentful towards work, which isn’t good for your mental health or productivity.

10 Tips to Work Smart And Not Hard

7. Minimise distractions

Another way to work smarter is by managing your surroundings. In a world of push notifications, email, instant messaging and shrinking office space, we’re becoming increasingly distracted at work. The average employee is getting interrupted fifty to sixty times per day, and about 80% of these distractions are unimportant.

As a result, according to research, people are spending little time in what’s referred to as the flow state, where people are up to five times more productive. The constant distractions are not only leaving people less productive but also more stressed than ever.

According to the American Institute of Stress, a lack of control over one’s work is a significant contributor to workplace stress. The study found that the perceived ability to refocus quickly is not the case. While you may think you’ve refocused on your work, the truth is that all you may be doing is working faster to finish your tasks. This may make you feel more stressed, frustrated, and pressured to get the job done.

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8. Focus on progress, not perfection

You can increase productivity and get more done when you focus on progress rather than perfection. People waste a lot of time trying to make everything perfect. Perfectionism causes you to work harder, not smarter, by constantly making perfect things that could be done in half the time.

To avoid this, focus on making progress towards your goals. Do the work to the best of your ability and move on. An alternative is doing the part of the project that you’re great at, and then finding other people to work with you on the rest.

Focusing on progression instead of perfection encourages us to focus on more minor achievements instead of the end goal. This eventually helps us accept and enjoy things even if they aren’t perfect because we can recognise evidence of our progress. Often, we set unrealistic expectations and believe that we’re a failure if we’re not perfect in our pursuit.

But we’re human, and our imperfections are what make us unique. Perfection should never be the goal because the outcome will always be a failure. However, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set the bar high. We must focus on progress, not perfection. On the process, not the outcome. We should focus on the journey, not the destination.

9. Tidy up your workspace

Maintaining a clean workplace, both in the physical and digital sense, is another great way to increase productivity and work smarter. Excess clutter has been proven in numerous studies to negatively impact workers’ moods and increase stress.

On top of that, it’s much easier to find things if they aren’t hidden under stacks of paper and lunch wrappers from last week. You’d be doing yourself a huge favour by maintaining a tidy desk and proper digital file organisation. All things considered, the extra time it takes is a pretty small price to pay.

A cluttered workplace may cause emotional distress, leading to low productivity. Being emotionally distressed means, you’re prone to distractions, and it creates feelings of guilt which makes it difficult for you to relax.

Having a clean and organised working environment will result in efficiencies since you don’t have to waste time looking for paper. Additionally, a clean desk will help you think that you’re in control, making it easier to focus on your tasks and avoid distractions.

10. Use the right tools

The proper use of tools can greatly increase your productivity at work. That’s why they were created in the first place. These include software, hardware, keyboard shortcuts, and so on.

The trick is finding the right tools that do what you need them to and fit your preferred workflow. This might take a bit of trial and error, but fortunately, many companies offer free trials of their solutions, so you can use them risk-free.

Well, folks, there you have it. I do hope you enjoyed the content, and if you did go ahead and give it a comment at least. And as always, I’ll see you in the next one.

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