If you want to get ahead, it’s crucial to work smarter, not harder. One of the most powerful skills you can have is the ability to manage your time effectively.
Furthermore, you’ll be more productive so you can finally accomplish the things you always wanted to do.
Otherwise, your tasks will pile up, you can’t be with loved ones, and your life becomes stressful and frustrating.
When you take control of your schedule, you’ll be able to relax! When you work smarter, you’re being productive but not exhausting yourself. Every day is less stressful yet massively productive.
Less stress and getting more done? That’s crazy talk! But it’s true. Although we often default to working longer hours, even if we’re exhausted.
We make things more complicated than they need to be. Even worse, we keep working like this without thinking of ways to be more efficient. What if you could work more efficiently, for less time and with less stress?
You can work smarter by using the following tips:
1. Work smarter by prioritizing your most valuable tasks
“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.”
If you don’t have a written plan to do what you need to, you’ll spin your wheels going nowhere. Then you won’t finish the tasks that could boost your company to the next level. Also, you’d have to work more hours.
To work smarter, you need to focus on the most valuable tasks first. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are the most worthwhile projects I can do that would boost my business to the next level?
- Have I been avoiding game-changing tasks?
- What are the most important tasks I could do today?
Write these down, then examine and prioritize them. It’s best if you put your most arduous tasks first.
Then start from the top of the list to the bottom. Don’t do the lower items because you don’t feel like doing the ones on the top.
Be strict and make yourself start at the top and do that task until it’s finished.
Ignore everything else, including email and social media. Turn off your notifications so you can have a constant focus.
After that, move on to the next things on the list.
If you have huge goals that you couldn’t finish in a day, at least schedule to do the first part of it. For instance, if you wanted to write a book, figure out the title and write the outline.
2. Work smarter by setting goals
“The most efficient way to live reasonably is every morning to make a plan of one’s day and every night to examine the results obtained.”
– Alexis Carrel
When you write your goals down, it transforms them from dreams to the infant stages of reality. As a result, your ideas are no longer floating around aimlessly in your mind, and this is the first step to making it happen!
You have access to all the world’s information online so you can Google anything you want to achieve. So, it’ll be easy to find the steps you need to take.
3. Work smarter by discovering how you’ve been spending your time
“While we are postponing, life speeds by.”
Learning how you spend your time is infinitely valuable. Then you’ll know how long it takes to finish tasks so you can schedule them. Although using an app to document it for you is the best way to do this!
I track my day with “RescueTime,” and that helps me stay productive. Also, it’s free and pretty cool! You should try it out; it shows graphs of how long you worked and even what has distracted you.
4. Plan out what you need to do
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
– Benjamin Franklin
Now you can plot and scheme how you’ll make your dreams a reality! So, write out what you’ll need to do this week to get closer to your goal.
Schedule your most crucial tasks when you have the most energy and creativity. Most people’s energy peaks 2.5 hours after they wake up.
Here are some tips:
- Schedule reoccurring chores for the same days every week. Like mowing the lawn, cleaning, going to the gym, or doing laundry. That way, you’ll know what you need to do every day.
- Prioritize your tasks. Also, don’t work on more than three priorities per day.
- Leave 5-10 minutes between tasks so you can wrap up and move to the next.
- Don’t multitask, and don’t overwhelm yourself. Focus only on one task you’re finished.
- Break down big projects into small steps.
- Don’t get lost in unimportant details.
- Try the Pomodoro technique. Work in 25-minute intervals, separated by short breaks. Taking breaks helps you to get more done. Just 10 or 15 minutes can recharge your brain.
- Don’t procrastinate.
- Try batching tasks. Group similar activities together.
The fact that you might work all day is great, but is that what you want to see on your gravestone? You’re worth way more than that! So, use the free moments when you’re home to design your future. It’s easy and painless!
Who knows? You could become a millionaire if you took the time to think up a great idea and scheduled when you’d work on it. 79% of all millionaires started with no money and never received an inheritance.
They’re “self-made,” and you are too!
They aren’t charmed or special; they just took control of what they did while they were at home. As a result, this allowed them to create something amazing.
5. Create a sense of urgency
“You may delay, but time will not.”
– Benjamin Franklin
If you have all day to finish a job, the chances are that’s how long it’ll take you to finish it. Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to take up all available time to complete. Therefore, you must combat this with a deadline to work smarter. Even if it’s a fake deadline, it’ll help you finish it earlier.
It’s easy to slack off when there’s no rush to accomplish things. So, create a sense of urgency to help you finish earlier. Otherwise, you’ll either end up (at best) just on time or (more likely) late.
So, set a deadline before the task is due. Deadlines sound intimidating, but they can give you the ambition you need to finish! Also, set a timer when you start the activity and race to beat the buzzer. Furthermore, keep it in view so you can see how much longer you have to go.
So, give every activity on your To-Do list a finish time. Otherwise, these activities can take over your entire day when they didn’t need to take that long.
Here are some free timers I’ve tested and approved:
- YAPA is a great timer because it shows my remaining time on the screen the whole time. When I see the countdown, it inspires me to get to work.
- Focus To-Do is a free timer app and To-Do list, along with their deadlines. Then, it notifies you when time is up. It also tracks how long you take to finish tasks, and it creates detailed reports.
- MultiTimer is a free app that allows you to add multiple timers. It’s simple and attractive. When time is up, it has a voice that tells you (which can be quite shocking if your volume is turned up on your headphones!)
6. Manage your distractions
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”
– Peter F. Drucker
Every day there are tons of outside influences competing for your attention. Schedule when you’ll respond to calls, emails, and spend time with your loved ones. Also, tell them when you’ll be working and that during that time you’ll have your phone on silent.
So, after you get your week scheduled, decide to stick to it no matter what! Then, you’ll be more productive and have plenty of time to relax with your friends and family.
7. Strategize how you’ll work smarter
“Focus on being productive instead of busy.”
If you don’t have a structured plan that you can follow every day, you won’t get very far. That’s not how to work smarter. When you’re scattered all over the place, everything you do will be unnecessarily difficult.
But when you create a step-by-step process for your usual tasks, your productivity soars. Your stress levels will be lower, you’ll have laser focus, and you’ll be much more efficient every day.
So, look at your list of tasks and brainstorm ways you could do them faster and more accurately. Especially the parts that you usually struggle to get through.
8. Delegate, automate, or eliminate
“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”
There are apps out there to help you work smarter by handling repetitive processes. These are automation tools, and they’re essential for today’s businesses. There are many kinds of automation from capturing leads, email marketing, or analysis.
Zapier is a well-known automation platform that has a basic free forever plan. There are other paid plans depending on what your business needs.
- Am I getting a good ROI on this task? If not, should I eliminate or automate it?
- Where am I wasting time or money?
- How can I do this task faster?
- Is this going to bring me closer to my ultimate goal?
- Can I delegate this task to someone better at it than I am?
9. Work smarter with the Pomodoro Technique
“Lost time is never found again.”
Once you install a timer on your computer, you’re ready to work smarter with the famous Pomodoro Technique.
Get your prioritized To-Do list and start the first (most important task). Set your timer for 25 minutes. You’ll be working on your assignment for this entire time with intense focus. Start the timer and challenge yourself to race the clock. See how much you can get done! When your time is up, take a 5-minute break. No more working. Step away if you need to, but come back after 5 minutes. Then set the timer back to 25 minutes and do it again until you finish.
After 4 Pomodoro’s (25-minute work sessions), then you can take a 20-minute break. Just remember to get back to work if you didn’t finish.
10. Batch tasks
“It’s not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less.”
—Nathan W. Morris
Batching tasks means that during a specific time, you focus on a group of similar tasks. It saves tons of time because switching activities can cost up to 40% of your productivity! If you get distracted while changing projects, it can take on average 15 minutes to get back to work. Possibly more.
It’s so much easier to create a week’s worth of graphics in one day and then schedule them to post throughout the week. That saves me a ton of time and effort!
11. Create a “done” list
“Action is the foundational key to all success.”
Instead of only writing “To Do” lists, it can be very motivating also to write all the things you’ve finished throughout the day. It’s important to emphasize how many items you’ve completed.
Don’t overload your “To Do” list with random projects. That’ll overwhelm you and paralyze you into inaction. Instead, focus on your top 3-5 most valuable tasks, and then you can work on some smaller jobs.
A “Done” list is an encouraging way to shift your productivity into high gear. Also, to celebrate how much you’ve achieved that day.
12. Make your computer work smarter
Regardless of how you feel about computers, the fact is, they aren’t going anywhere. So, it’s best to learn shortcuts and tricks to use them effectively. Then you’ll work smarter every day with much less stress. You’ll finish what you need to in record time!
Do you make the same changes to every document? For instance, changing the fonts and sizes or adjusting any preferred formatting. Customize your normal.dotm template so it’ll pre-setup all your new documents beforehand. That way, you’ll always be ready to work.
Suppose your typing skills involve you searching and poking at the keyboard with two fingers. It’ll take you forever to finish even a simple email. That’s why it’s so beneficial to learn to type more efficiently.
The following websites will teach you how to type much faster than you ever thought possible.
To sum up, when you work smarter, not harder, you’ll produce better results faster, so you can have time to relax. You’ll finish projects long before they’re due. So, you’ll no longer be pulling all-nighters to wrap up things. Working smarter will allow you to do everything efficiently and with less stress.
Then you’ll have more time to kick back and enjoy life with your friends and family. Do you have any other tips for working smarter? Please share them in the comments below.
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