Career Tips

Ways to Work Smarter Not Harder

Date Posted: 08/13/2015

If you wonder why you are getting nowhere in your job although you work so diligently and hard, take a pause. Are you always busy trying to be more productive? Are you always switching from one task to the next without completing it or trying to do many things at once? Are you just about managing to meet schedules and deadlines, or do you have no time to complete the tasks you set out to do?

Maybe it’s because you’re working like a robot, a mechanical mindless machine who is unable to independently organize in a systematic way according to varying circumstances. A robot is limited to its program of mechanically executing specified tasks. It is ‘smart’ only to the extent of its programming and cannot reach beyond. But you are human and that very critical difference enables your flexibility in choosing how you work. By being naturally, not mechanically, smart, you can independently direct your energies according to changing objectives and circumstances. So think human; do human, and you can get rewards for smart, not just hard, work.

The key to smart working is smart time management. This requires not undertaking the maximum possible volume of tasks into your schedule just because they need to be done. Make realistic objectives in your work schedule. Then follow that planned sequence in order to get things done. Earn a reputation as an independent and ‘need-not-be-supervised’ efficient worker.
Here are some simple ideas that may help you manage your routine through more effective time management:

Organize yourself.

Be systematic from the start. Gather related tasks together so that your efforts are not duplicated. Arrange your tasks so that you don’t waste time in gathering similar tasks together every time you start a project or tackle a new one.


Plan and select your ‘must do’ work according to their relative importance. Then you’re free to take up the other tasks without tension because you have already finished the most important. However, don’t forget to include the occasional special (extra) work given by your boss in your routine ‘must do’ list.

Limit commitments

Undertaking several commitments may improve your multi-tasking abilities but don’t stretch it too much. Commit to handle what you know you can actually do, not hopefully expect to complete. Only accept commitments that affect the overall work flow and thus matter most, and say no to other demands.

Control delaying impulse.

Resist that human urge to put off your start for just a little more of something else you enjoy more. Dive in with determination and give it all you’ve got. You’ll be so relieved when you go past the ‘finish’ line. It isn’t tough once you decide to do it. Give yourself a deadline, not an open-ended time for every assignment, not allowing as long as it takes. That way you will not waste time.

Cut out your surroundings when you take up tasks.

Create your own quiet mental cubicle to apply total concentration to every task that you take up in sequence. Don’t let your surroundings distract you and just lose yourself into that specific task. Your output will then be perfect and fast.

Don’t let small details slow you down.

Your work needs to be perfect without you being a perfectionist. Execute in one go and don’t let the urge to constantly re-check what you have already completed. Going over minor details will slow you down. You will, in any case, be polishing your work in the final revision.

Let habits handle repeat tasks.

Habits are important in letting the brain rest and not have to think of every repeat action every time, every day. You know what you have to do so don’t think about it. Just let habit take you through it.

Break it down.

Don’t keep exclaiming “O God, when will I finish all this work?” This is negative as you are saying ‘I just can’t do it’. This approach will drown out your capacity to actually complete your tasks. So handle “all this work” by breaking it up into small segments and then tackle each segment in a serialized priority. Focus on one segment at a time without thinking of so much more work pending, because that’s the only way to handle the current segment correctly and fast.

Give time between tasks.

Remember that you’re not a robot that needs no mental rest. Take short breaks between tasks instead of working continuously as this will adversely affect your work quality.

Don’t waste personal time.

The best worker is the relaxed worker who has control over his efficiency. Maximize the value of your holidays to produce your maximum on your work days. You can only be most productive on work days if you fully unwind yourself on your off days. Don’t just sleep it off but spend quality time with family, social or sporting activities that re-invigorates you.

Ensure adequate sleep.

You know your sleep threshold best so make sure you get enough because you must not be tired when you start your work schedule. Everyone needs 7-8 hours of sleep to refresh body and mind and generate fresh energy for the next day. Follow your sleep rhythm carefully, and don’t just hope to be fully functional the next day, because you will never able to manage the work day ahead.

Yes, working smart can also be more fun. Change your approach and perspectives and take the rigor out of work. You need to become a little passionate with your work and it will then become less tedious and more interesting. Innovate and experiment on how to execute your work more easily and enjoyably. Once you begin to enjoy your work your output will far exceed that of others who see it as hard unrewarding labor.

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