Working Smarter Not Harder (Benefits and Strategies)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 September 2021

Working smarter, not harder, is an expression professionals may use. This phase encapsulates the idea that a little planning can make the tasks of daily life much easier to manage. By applying a few innovative ideas to your daily schedule, you can boost your productivity, performance and work-life balance. In this article,e we explain the potential benefits of working efficiently, and we list strategies you can use to help you work smarter.

Related: Effective vs. Efficient: Definitions, Differences and Tips

What are the benefits of working smarter, not harder?

Working smarter, not harder, is a concept that focuses on streamlining how you work to make the entire process more efficient. Here are some of the potential benefits of working more efficiently:

  • Increased productivity: When you work efficiently, you may increase your overall productivity. You can complete more tasks in the same amount of time.

  • Improved work-life balance: When working efficiently, you may have more time and energy for other activities. This can improve your overall work-life balance.

  • More new challenges: You can apply yourself to challenging tasks more effectively if you have more time and energy. Working more efficiently can help you complete additional responsibilities.

  • Increased positivity: Professionals who work efficiently may feel more satisfied with their daily tasks. This can lead to increased positivity and a happier workplace.

Related: 10 Valuable Soft Skills That You Need to Succeed in Your Career

Ways to work more efficiently

There are lots of approaches that you can take to work more efficiently. Here are some strategies you can use to help you work smarter:

Focus on one task at a time

Try to focus on one task at a time to help you work more efficiently. When focusing on one dedicated task, you can help ensure you're doing your best. This can improve your productivity. It can also lead to less confusion, mistakes and wasted time. You may use a daily schedule to help you manage your tasks to ensure you complete them all with focus and care.

Work in short bursts

Breaking up your work into smaller tasks and focusing on one at a time is an excellent approach to working smarter. Lots of short breaks throughout the day may help reduce distractions for some professionals. Also, you may be more engaged with the tasks when you're working for short periods, which can improve efficiency and quality.

There are lots of different techniques available that offer a framework for working in short bursts. Consider using timers and scheduling brief breaks for yourself to try this method. Also, consider timing your breaks to ensure you return to your tasks promptly to complete everything on time.

Related: How To Stop Procrastinating

Complete a challenging task first

Some professionals find it helpful to complete challenging tasks first and save easier tasks for later in the day or in the workweek. This can help ensure you have time to overcome any unforeseen challenges. Consider writing a list of your daily or weekly tasks, and prioritising them in order of deadlines and difficultly. This can help you plan your work.

Try to do group similar tasks together

If you have a handful of tasks that are quite similar, such as writing various reports or updating records, consider allocating a block of time to do them together. This can keep you focused on the work and may help prevent you from getting distracted by other tasks.

Dedicating a portion of your time to an environment rather than a task, such as time spent on the computer, can also help improve your focus. This can lead to increased efficiency and productivity. For example, consider writing all of your emails at the same time. You may get used to the task and increase your speed.

Related: What Are Organisational Skills?

Consider your personal preferences

Processionals have their own personal preferences and working styles. You may have more energy in the morning or afternoon. To maximise your productivity, consider these preferences and when you have the most energy. Try to learn when you're at your most efficient during the working day and organise difficult tasks around your own energy levels. That way, you won't be struggling to get through a challenging task with no energy or motivation.

Related: Time Management Skills

Set a reasonable to-do list

Consider creating a to-do list each day and reviewing it to ensure it's reasonable. This can improve motivation and encourage you to complete all the tasks. Consider dividing your to-do list into smaller categories so that you can feel more accomplished when you start working through tasks. If you have one large project to complete, you may divide it into small steps. This can make it easier to see your progress, which can help increase your productivity.

Consider taking a break when appropriate

Some professionals benefit from taking a longer, scheduled break throughout the workday. Consider taking a walk at lunch or even taking a nap if you work remotely. This can help improve your concentration and energy level. You may also take a break in your office. During this time, try to avoid looking at screens. This can help you feel more refreshed and ready to begin work again.

Related: How to Make Time for Self-Care While Working From Home

Remove any distractions from your workspace

Whether it's a phone alerting you to a new message or a new email that pops into your inbox, distractions can reduce productivity. Try to remove as many of these distractions as you can, especially when you're focusing on difficult or intensive tasks. Removing distractions can help you dedicate all of your energy to completing one task. Some professionals use mobile applications or computer programs to help them minimise distractions. For example, you can use a feature on your phone to turn off notifications for a set time. This can help increase your productivity and efficiency.

Also, consider reviewing your workplace environment to find ways to minimise distractions. For example, you may clear your desk or office area. This can help keep you focused and alert throughout the day.

Use automation to make repetitive tasks easy

Depending on your role and industry, you may use automation to help you make repetitive tasks easier. There are lots of applications available to create macros and automate work, from automating copy-paste routines when writing to automating scheduling and calendar entries. For example, if you're a marketer, you may use automation software to send surveys to customers automatically. You can also use software to review the survey results and organise the data into categories. This can help you focus on other tasks, such as analysing the results to create a new marketing strategy.

Consider using traditional pen and paper when working

If you spend hours working at a monitor, you may have other distractions, such as applications, websites, notifications and emails if you haven't turned them off. To counteract these distractions, consider replacing your monitor with a traditional pen and paper setup for certain tasks, such as writing your to-do list. This can help you focus by reducing distractions.

Consider your personal preferences when deciding which tasks you can complete by hand. For example, some professionals prefer to take notes by hand and brainstorm ideas in a journal. Others find typing to be more efficient.

Pay attention to the time

When you're focused, it may be easy to spend hours completing a task. However, spending too much time on a task can be detrimental to your overall productivity. Tracking how long you work on certain work can highlight how long it takes you to complete certain tasks. Keeping a record of your time spent on work and reviewing it can give you insights into your working practices. You can assess where you could speed things up and take notes on particular work that you found challenging. You can use this information to help you plan your schedule and improve your overall efficiency.

Manage your stress levels

If you're completing a lot of tasks within a determined deadline, it's normal to feel some stress. It's important to find ways to minimise your stress levels to help you stay focused and efficient. Try to handle your stress levels however you can to improve your outlook and performance while working. There are lots of different methods available when it comes to managing stress, such as meditation or mindful breathing techniques. Others prefer walking or completing a hobby. You may try a variety of techniques until you find the right one for you.

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