Regardless of how much time you have, it would not be enough if you are not organized. You have to work smarter and not harder to achieve all the tasks on your to-do list efficiently.
Once a Japanese company that made soap got a complaint from the customer saying the soap box they manufactured was empty. The company researched and found that in every batch of soap produced, there is one empty soap box.
To remedy this situation the company invested a lot of capital in R&D and created an x-ray machine to detect the empty soapbox. Further, they stationed one man who had to check that X-ray and throw out the empty soapbox.
A few years later, another company was dealing with the same empty soap box problem. But the company solved this problem with the help of a fan. Yes!! A table fan.
They used a smart solution of placing the fan where the boxes are lined up. The fan’s speed was adjusted so that it enabled the light-empty box to fly out but kept the soap-filled box intact.
This story teaches us to not blindly put our hard work into something that could be done smartly, with less effort, less money, and less energy.
While hard work is essential for success, you can do hard work smartly.
Working hard is essential, but blindly doing all the work that can be done smartly is wrong. When you work smartly, you improve your job satisfaction and increase your overall productivity.
8 ways to work smarter and not harder
1. Spend time acquiring rare, valuable skill
To work smarter and not harder, you should achieve skills that can help make your work a piece of cake. Invest yourself in learning skills that align with your job and make you an efficient worker.
Learning digital marketing can make your work smoother and more effortless if you are into an online business.
On the other hand, if you are in a business field, taking a drawing course, then it is just hard work. Though drawing can be your hobby, and you can take classes, it will not make your life or job easier.
Invest your time in acquiring those skills and talents with high market value.
In 1995, Mark Cuban knew the internet was going to boom. The programming and technology sector is going to grow.
With deep knowledge of both sectors, he and his friend Todd Wagner started Audionet. This was the first broadband company. After years of profits, Yahoo took over Audionet for a lot of money.
Knowledge about valuable skills can help you make money and understand when time is going to go down. This will ensure you work smarter and not harder.
2. Morning schedule
Establish your morning schedule to be more productive. The time after you get up from sleep is very important and productive. Use that time to do activities that can ensure your entire day becomes effective.
Set a routine and follow it with utmost discipline. And remember, the activities done in the victory hours of the morning should help you work smarter and not harder. Don’t just mindlessly go on scrolling your social media first thing in the peak hours of your morning.
You can go for a nature walk for some time or do physical activity to energize yourself for the start of your day. Set some time aside in your routine to read nourishing books or write your journal.
Being silent in the morning can be beneficial to ensure concentration, memory enhancement, and relaxation. All these activities are done before you start your actual work can help you work smarter and not harder.
You can also set a night or evening routine. This is done after your work hours are completed. Activities at night include creating a list of tasks to do the next day, tidying the desk, and gathering things that will be needed for tomorrow.
3. Plan your to-do list
The most important thing to remember for you to work smarter and not harder is to plan your to-do list every day or night per se. The key to working efficiently is to have a short to-do list. Your to-do list should contain only three to five most important but challenging tasks.
These tasks should be such that completing them will make you feel highly effective and productive. Trim your to-do list and make it lean and crisp.
It would be most beneficial if, every day, you could align at least one task to your end goal. It will help you compound the effects and reach your dreams at a faster pace.
While making a list, ensure you plan it according to your energy levels. When you start your work in the morning, your energy level is high. This high energy level can help you accomplish many complex and challenging tasks.
At the end of the day, you are exhausted and need some light work. If you plan on doing complex tasks at the end of the day, there are high chances you will skip the tasks.
Set some time aside and plan your tasks according to your energy levels. This will ensure you work smarter and not harder.
4. Focus on the output, not an activity
Smart people always know the difference between working hard and working smart. They perform only those activities that give output and results. On the other hand, ordinary people choose to do simple and unproductive tasks.
Segregate all the activities and review the activities based on their productivity. Ask questions to yourself.
Speculate if you do a particular activity, will it bring you closer to your dreams?
If yes, then prioritize that activity first. If the activity is just going to waste your time and not bring you closer to your dreams, then what is the use of doing such tasks?
Be wise enough to choose all the small activities that together compound towards rewardable results in the long run.
Once there was a ship whose engine was faulty. The ship’s owner called multiple engineers and paid them immensely to do the repairs. These highly trained engineers put in a lot of effort but could not detect the problem.
Then the owner heard about an old, uneducated man who had been doing repairs for many years. The old man came and looked at the engine for 15-20 minutes.
He then bought his toolkit and tapped the hammer on the machine a few times. Miraculously, the engine roared to life.
When asked about his fees, the old man charged 1 lakh rupees. The owner felt cheated to pay such a massive amount for just a few taps.
To this, the old man replied this payment was not for a few taps. It is for my lifelong knowledge and experience, which your highly trained engineers didn’t have. His money is for working smarter and not harder.
5. Socialize with smart people
When you hang out with smart people, your chances of becoming smart and successful increase significantly.
Elon Musk shifted from South Africa to the USA because he knew the chances of success in the USA were more. No, not saying you can’t succeed in South Africa; the crux here is to stay with people who inspire and give you more opportunities to grow.
You are the average of 5 people you spend your most time with.Jim Rohn
Staying with intelligent people will make you crave their smartness and success, and you will automatically work towards it.
Your friend circle matters a lot when you want to work smarter and not harder. Imagine if you stay with a group addicted to drugs and believe in wasting all their time smoking pot.
Surrounded by such a group, you are bound to learn to waste your time and maybe smoke a pot within a short amount of time.
While on the other side, if you are surrounded by MIT or IIT graduates, who are endlessly working to achieve their dreams, you will be inspired to do the same.
More knowledge can help you work smarter and not harder. This knowledge can only be gained from experts in their individual fields.
No billionaire has the time to teach you things. The best way to learn things is by reading books, watching interviews, or listening to podcasts.
If you want to uncover the art of investment, Warren Buffet will not be able to teach you, but you can understand his views and mindset from the books he wrote.
6. Track your time
In order to work smarter and not harder, you should understand where you are wasting your time. Track everything you do by writing it in a journal. You can also take the help of digital apps that are specially built to track your time.
Time is of the essence, and we waste a lot of our time on unproductive and silly activities. Social media captures our attention from the start till the end of the day.
The addictive dopamine released from randomly scrolling social media networks is brain food for our minds. And the entire day, our brain is in pursuit of finding this dopamine, and we end up wasting our day just watching reels, social media, and Netflix.
Time-tracking makes us aware of the time we invest in unproductive activities. Always choose time tracking apps over manual entries if possible. Using time tracking apps helps save your time.
Time tracking apps make our life easy by automating the entire tracking process. You just have to log in and review your performance. This is another example of working smarter and not hard.
7. Use the 60-10 work method
Human brains have an attention span of around 60-90 minutes. It means you can give undivided attention and focus on a particular task for 60-90 minutes. After that, the brain starts to lag.
Segregate your work hour into 4 to 5 such segments. After one segment of 60 or 90 minutes is over, take a small break of 10 minutes. This will help your brain relax.
The break refreshes you and brings a fresh perspective on doing things when you start working again. Finding new and improved ways of doing things can help you work smarter and not harder.
For overall work improvement, state of ultra focus, and increased productivity, you need breaks every now and then. The most crucial aspect of this work-break schedule is staying true to your break schedule.
Ensure you work in the Bubble of focus for the time allotted for work and then take breaks. You can easily get lost in your break time, so being aware of how much time to spend on breaks is necessary. You can set a reminder to adhere to the time of the break.
8. Focus on the task at hand
People, especially in remote working, want to complete all their tasks in less time. Hence, they get into the habit of multitasking. Switching from one task to another can be impulsive and unproductive.
People can’t multitask well. If they say they do, they are deluding themselves.Earl Miller (neuroscientists)
Research has shown that multitasking can lead to wasting a lot of time because our brain needs time to get into the flow of a task.
When we switch tasks, our brain needs to refocus from the start, which can take time. Multitasking deteriorates your productivity by 40%.
People who work smarter and not harder believe in doing one task at a time and giving it their undivided focus. Once a particular task is completed, they go for the next task.
Another way to work smarter and not harder is clubbing all the similar activities together and completing them one after another.
Similar activities won’t need you to get into the flow state from the start. You were already doing a similar kind of work. Hence, there is no loss of efficiency. While switching work to an entirely different kind can deteriorate your productivity, efficiency, and focus.
Another technique you can use to work smarter and not harder is leveraging the technology. Your will, discipline, focus, and energy diminish as the day progresses. If you spend time working on mundane activities, you will have less energy to solve a complex work problem.
Automate things whenever and wherever you can.
Mark Zuckerberg wears the same type of clothes each day. This is because it helps him stop wasting time on frivolous activities of choosing clothes every day and focus on making important decisions.
The theme of working smarter and not harder should be inculcated deep within us in order to take action and follow these tips. While this list is a lot to take in, you can choose a combination of techniques that work the best for you.
Set a start and end date for all of your essential tasks. It will help you stay on track with your deadlines and ensure their completion without straining your mental health, which causes stress and anxiety.
Stress is an inevitable part of working. But a lot of stress can create a mental fog and reduce your work efficiency.
To remedy this situation, use stress management techniques to help you relax, enhance clarity and work productively.
Reading, meditating, dancing, exercising, yoga, playing constructive games for mental enhancement, listening to music, etc., are some techniques that can help combat stress. These techniques help strengthen mental, emotional stability, and physical health.
Also, do more tasks that you love to do. No matter how much you love your work, there are certain parts you would hate to do. Either automate them or delegate them to others.
This ensures you are doing only those things that will help you be fulfilled, productive, and effective. All this will help you work smarter and not harder.