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9 tips to work smarter, not harder

Would you like to:

  • Decrease your work stress?
  • Get more done?
  • Be valued by your boss?

Then this article is for you.

Most people think that in order to get somewhere, they have to work hard. They’re only partially right. While working hard can be a pathway to success, there are easier ways of doing it. This is called working smarter, not harder. And that’s what we’re going to talk about here.

Working harder is getting your head down and your bum up and doing more work than you usually do. This often creates more problems than what it solves, usually associated with stress. Working smarter, however, is finding strategies to get the work done without working harder. These strategies are usually designed to make your life easier, while giving you greater results.

If your work is task-oriented, then you might not find much value in this article, but even task-oriented work can be done smarter rather than harder. However, the greatest value in working smarter comes with results-oriented work. This is where the results are more important than how you get them.

  1. Analyse the work that you do.
    What do you have to do now? What can wait until later? If you
    prioritise what’s important, you can get them done without needing to
    get stressed doing something that’s become urgent because you’ve waited
    until the last minute.
  2. Learn to delegate.
    Some of what you do can be given to someone else to do. You don’t need to be a manager to delegate work. If there’s someone around you that has the time and the knowledge to do some of your work, pass it onto them. Being part of a team is not just about being available for others, it’s also about handing around the work that the team can help you do.
  3. Learn to say no.
    If someone wants you to do something, and you simply have no time to do it, say NO. Tell them that you’ve got more than enough on your plate already, and they’ll have to find someone else to do it. Or, if they’re your manager, you can give them the option of deciding what task you’re working on that can wait for this new task to be done. Don’t overload yourself, say no to extra work.
  4. Schedule appointments with yourself.
    Book a meeting with yourself to do something that needs doing. Being in a meeting makes you unavailable to others, so you will have the time and the space to get it done.
  5. Aim for results, not neatness.
    If you worry too much about how something looks, you can lose track of what’s important. And what’s important isn’t the appearance, but the result of the work you’re doing. The appearance can be worked on later, if it’s that important. Focus on the result first.
  6. Be aware of your value.
    You were hired to fill a position for a reason, usually because of your skills and your experience. The company you work for values this enough to pay you for it each week; you are an investment to them. They would rather not lose their investment. As long as you are achieving the results that you were hired to achieve, they will be happy with what you’re doing, and will contine to support their investment – you. Worrying about your job security is only recommended if you’re not doing your job! This is why you should work smarter, not harder, so that they will always be happy with what you do.
  7. Be proactive and display initiative.
    Your company would love you to value them too, and to think of ways you can help improve the company and the way things are done. If you find something that needs doing, do it (as long as you have the time to). If you have an idea for how something can be improved, present it. You’ll show yourself as a valuable asset to the company.
  8. Take time out for yourself.
    This is probably the most important part of your work – time for yourself. Many companies want you to work for them 120% of your time, but if you leave nothing for yourself, you have an imbalance which adds to the stress. Google, for example, provide every one of their employers with one day each week where they can work on their own projects. You need to work on your own projects too. If you get the results your company wants from you, they really won’t mind. And if they do mind, then find another company. The brain works best when it’s relaxed, not stressed.
  9. Be a miracle worker.
    Scotty, Captain Jim Kirk’s Chief Engineer, would multiply the actual time it would take to do something by 3, so that when he did it in a third of that time, he was considered a ‘miracle worker’. If you know something will take 1 day to do, tell them it’ll take 3 days. If you do it in 2 days, they’ll think you’ve worked incredibly hard to get it done, even though you know you took your time. You’ll get the reputation of being a ‘miracle worker’ by giving yourself plenty of time to do it, and you do it without stress. Everyone wins.

I hope you find increased enjoyment in your work by using these tips to your advantage. Focus on the results, and your boss will love you. Look after yourself along the way and you’ll love your job.

Thanks for reading! Please add your own thoughts below.

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