While building up my own business I have learned a number of important lessons. But if I had to center in on one general area of advice I would give to anyone else, it’s work smarter, not harder. This is a well known cliche. Yet most people ignore it, either thinking it’s not possible or will not work.
Most entrepreneurs have a work harder, work more hours attitude. They think by waking up earlier than someone else, and working more hours than them, they are getting more done. Their business is growing faster, and they are becoming more successful.
But what if that other person is working smarter than you. Getting more done in less time. Scaling up their business and using systems to get work done while they sleep.
Growing a business often has a snowball effect. So the quicker it grows, the more momentum it gains. Not to mention that burning out is a very real thing. Working every waking hour is not good for your physical and mental well-being.
So what can you start doing today to become a more effective and productive person? Here are 7 ways to get more done by working smarter not harder.
Make To-Do Lists and Stick to Them
It’s all too easy to get distracted and spend a lot of time not actually getting a lot done. Make to-do lists and maintain them as you tick items off and add new items to it.
Ideally you should break it down into manageable tasks with their deadlines. Don’t let the list start to manage you, always manage the list. But with some discipline and the right motivation you will find working in an orderly manner smarter than ‘winging’ it.
Take Regular Breaks
Taking regular breaks improves productivity, health, and mental well-being. This is usually the first thing I ask people to implement into their day. At first it seems like it would take time out of the day. But overall it brings out the best in a person, trust me.
If you’re looking at a monitor all day you’re eyes need a break. If you sit for long periods, your back and legs need a stretch. If your motivation and focus is starting to slide, your brain needs a break. Need I go on?
Set a Time to Check Emails and Other Messages
Checking emails is a huge time sapper. It can be addictive checking what email you just received every time you get a notification. But there has been numerous studies and tests around email productivity, and they all lead to the same answer. Check your emails at set times and not in-between.
There are exceptions of course. But most people can live just fine only checking their emails once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. Try it for yourself. You will save countless minutes not popping in and out of your inbox all day.
Work in an Organised and Clutter-Free Environment
If you work in a clean and organised space. You’re mind will be more organised. Letting papers build up, having notes everywhere, not being able to find a pen when you need one. It’s all basic office rules.
Try working in a minimalist fashion. This is what I’ve adopted. No mementos, no paperwork, nothing. All I have on my desk is my keyboard, mouse and monitor. I have no distractions, and I don’t miss anything. All my work is saved on the cloud.
Have Healthy Daily Habits and Stick to Them
I shouldn’t have to point out that you need to stick to your habits really. That’s what habits are. Actions we stick to and repeat, which when healthy and productive are a sure way to work smarter and not harder.
Think about drinking plenty of water, eating healthy, checking mail as per schedule, taking breaks. Many of these things we have already mentioned. Make them habits that you stick to daily.
Have a Block of Time Without Any Distractions
Being able to work from home to your own schedule is a luxury. But it comes with the possibility of a lot of distractions. It’s easy to suddenly find a lot of things to do round the house that you wouldn’t even of thought of were you in the office.
Blocking of a section of time in which you can not be disturbed for any reason becomes an important part of a work-form-home person’s day. Make it clear that it must be an emergency to disturb you. Use this time to plough through your to-do list without distraction.
Take Advantage of Systems and Processes
Automated systems and processes are designed to use technology to our advantage. There are almost endless amounts of time tracking apps, programs to automate IT tasks, and ways to filter your incoming queries and emails.
There is such a thing as trying to automate too much and getting yourself in a mess. So start slowly and use these tools wisely. But using programs and processes to perform tasks for you is the pinnacle of working smarted and not harder.
Putting in more hours isn’t always the answer to getting more done. In fact is rarely is. Being smart and levering some tools, adding processes, avoiding distractions, and becoming more productive is the answer.
Getting more done in less time is a satisfying feeling. Hopefully this article with 7 ways to get more done by working smarter not harder will serve as the start to achieving this at the very least. Good luck.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.