How to Work Smarter, Not Harder, Even If You Don’t Know Where to Start

Mar 14, 2022

Most of us tend to work harder than smarter when we need to do more. This is good in the short term, but it is not wise to work harder in the long term.

It makes sense to work more efficiently because it saves time and can be applied 100% in the future. You cannot constantly increase the intensity or duration of work. There are limitations.

But there is always a way to work smarter!

To work smarter without working harder, use the following strategy.

Focus on what works best.

One way to work more efficiently is to identify and focus on the tasks that are most valuable for your time. You can perform one of many tasks at any time. How confident are you that you are using your time most wisely?

  • We are often drawn to things that are easy or convenient. Use effective criteria when deciding how to use your time.
    • Is this task for you, or someone else?
    • Does this task hinder other tasks, or is it standalone?
    • How important is getting this task done today vs. this week?
  • We all know how to spend time our own way. Eliminating this downtime is one way to increase operational efficiency.

Review your behavior daily.

Analyze your day and decide if you have made the most of it. Find ways to improve. Find a way to waste less time. Get a little better every day and the difference in results will surprise you.

  • At the end of each day, write down the three things that come to mind that you accomplished, or circle the three things on your checklist that were the most important that you did. How does it make you feel? Good? Not so good? Okay, now you have a basis for tomorrow. What one thing would make tomorrow feel great? Write it down, and then do that first thing. The rest of the day will feel like a breeze.
  • To help, here’s a formatted checklist you can print and use right now!

Avoid the belief that harder sanding is always the solution.

We often associate greater success with greater effort. But working harder isn’t always the answer. Sometimes it makes sense to sharpen your axe instead of swinging it harder or spending more time every day.

Review the results.

It’s foolish to keep going if what you’re doing isn’t going well. Figure out what works and what doesn’t. Choose your activity accordingly. Not analyzing the results is like trying a new diet but never weighing it.

  • External consultants can help here. Their purpose and knowledge of the question is to figure out what works and what doesn’t, then guide you in the desired direction. With a gentle nod, the Express Idea Clarity Call may be right for you.

Ask yourself: “What are the logical consequences of how I spend my day?”

As you review your day, ask yourself what would happen if you repeated this day over the next five years. How would you progress…or not? Now, what does a day look like that will lead you to a destination you desire?

Set a time limit.

One way to force you to work smarter is to limit the amount of time you spend on a task or workday. Try to do more things at the same time. The only way to make permanent progress is to change your approach. The harder you work, the more successful you will be.

  • There are many examples of how to organize a day with time constraints, but the old and good one is the Pomodo Method. Developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, this product has helped millions of people manage their day.

Keep learning.

The more you know, the smarter you can work. What do I need to learn to work more efficiently? What knowledge can help you do your job better without wasting more time? Make sure you are learning the right thing.

  • Find experts in your field or a business efficiency expert. Learn what you can from them. Don’t try to figure it all out by yourself. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel.

While there is much respect for those who can grind, especially in the beginning stages of their business journey, it’s not an effective long-term strategy. Many times continuous hustle = heartbreak. Avoid the temptation of the hustle culture. There’s no reward except burnout for being busy all the time. Learning how to work smarter is an intelligent and more efficient choice.

Once you learn a better way of doing things, you can continue using that knowledge forever while also getting more done.


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