How To Work Smart But Not Hard

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"Working smart, not hard" means that the bulk of your efforts should to go high-priority tasks that contribute to accomplishing your goals. If you run a home business, you may feel that you work all day but get very little accomplished. But life doesn't have to be that way. It won't be if you find a few simple ways to build efficiency into your activities. The more efficient you become, the more work you will get done and the more free time you will have.

Working smart does not suggest that there is a back door to success. Working smart refers to planning, having efficient habits, and using your time and energy wisely.

Make lists. Every morning when you begin your day, make a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish that day. After you make the list, rewrite it with the items in order of importance. Always make sure that your income producing activities are first.

Be flexible. Understand that the world constantly changes and you must change with it. Your day may not go as planned. Be open to trying new things and new ways of doing things.

Look for shortcuts in everything you. Don't reinvent the wheel every time you do something. For example, if you are in a service business in which customers email you a lot of questions, you will probably see the same questions over and over again. Start saving your replies in files on your computer. Organize the replies by categories such as lost shipments, unhappy customers, or product questions. After a while, you will have a response that you can use as the foundation for any email for any situation. You may have to change a few details to fit the specific situation, but the bulk of the letter will already be written.

Avoid overscheduling yourself. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in one workday. Work can go on forever. Sometimes you just have to cut off your work and stop for the day.

Evaluate your systems and make them more efficient. This does not refer to your computer system, but the way you do things. For example, if you run a business in which you have to make phone calls, plan your phone time for when your kids aren't home and you won't be interrupted. You can get the job done much faster with no interruptions or distractions. Try to do things in batches rather than one at a time. Whether it is paying bills, shipping orders, or answering emails, doing these tasks in batches is much more time efficient than scattering yourself all over the place doing them one at a time. If you have kids and work at home, work on your business while they are at school and you can concentrate, and save housework and cooking for when they are home.

Avoid multitasking. Many experts suggest that you get less done when you multitask because you are trying to do too many things done at once. Your brain is switching and forth between the tasks. Multitasking is not as productive as sticking with one task until it is completed.

Rely on spreadsheets to help you stay organized. You can use a spreadsheet to organize and track your schedule and its results; sales calls and revenue produced; and frequently asked questions with their answers, along with many other data sets. If the spreadsheet helps you access information more effectively or faster, it's worth the time to create it and maintain it. If not -- don't do it.

Listen to your mentors and ask questions. You can move higher on the learning curve faster if you learn from other people's mistakes instead of waiting to learn from your own. Read what experts in your field have to say -- read blogs, books, and newspaper and magazine articles. Join groups and forums and talk to others in your field and ask questions. Be proactive about learning and look for new ways to learn, and new people to learn from, so that you can prevent costly mistakes.

Look for people who work hard at working smart. These are the people who get more done in less time with fewer resources than others -- you might wonder about them, "How do they get all that done?"

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