We’ve all heard the saying that it’s better to work smarter, rather than harder, but what this idiom expresses is that it’s more efficient to find method that works for you. I’m definitely in the working smart camp, or at least trying to be, and it turns out that sometimes the fastest way to get something done is to take your time to do it correctly. So, here are a few tips to help you work smarter rather than harder.
#1 Make Meetings Work for You
Too many employees feel that their meetings are a waste of time. In order to combat this, it is important to know why a meeting is taking place, and making attendees responsible for various aspects of the meeting can help others to feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for what happens during the allotted meeting time.
In order to make a meeting more successful, it is also important to have a set structure. Too often meetings run long because the work isn’t getting done in the allotted time, but when you have a specific plan of what is to be addressed in a set amount of time, the chair can direct comments, questions, concerns, and the discussion according to a set plan.
#2 Delegate Tasks to Talented Employees
Sometimes we feel that just because something is our responsibility, we are solely responsible for it, whereas there are other employees and colleagues that have excellent ideas and capabilities. Delegation is an important part of getting work done, especially if you are a running a department.
If you are responsible for a project but don’t have the time or the exact skill set to get it done the best way, then ask for help. Too often we push through our own insufficiencies and pride instead of asking for assistance. Asking talented coworkers for help is mutually beneficial: you get to learn new skills, the coworker develops their skills, and the project gets done to a higher quality.
#3 Plan Your Daily Tasks
Depending on your work industry, you can plan a good portion of your day according to deadlines that have to be met. Setting yourself daily tasks can help you to achieve small progress that contributes to a bigger picture. I always take the time to plan my week’s blog posts and writing tasks so that I know exactly what I need to get done and when, so that I can adequately prepare. Having a plan can help you to keep on schedule and stay focused.
#4 Make Time for Preparation
It’s easy to feel the need to jump right into a task instead of taking the time to prepare and plan. Brainstorming, research, and discussion have their place when it comes to idea generation and planning, so don’t be afraid to allocate time to creativity. When you have a deadline to meet, it may feel like getting something down is the most important thing, but planning is essential to producing good work.
Everyone’s planning process is different, so developing a planning style for yourself is a huge step to becoming more productive. I am constantly looking for blog post ideas everywhere I go on the Internet, and I write them down when I encounter them so I can come back later and do research. I think about the angle I want to take on a post and do some research and let that sit before I begin to write it, and as I write I have set processes and procedures I use that make me comfortable and get me in the creative mood. Don’t be ashamed to admit that working a certain way helps you to get things done; we all have individual styles and you have to do what works for you.
#5 Take Frequent Breaks
While you might feel that you need to push on through your lunch break to get things done, your brain does need a break. Taking a couple of minutes to chat with coworkers every couple of hours helps your brain to decompress, and taking a lunch break allows your body to recover. A recent study conducted by a Professor of Exercise Physiology at the University of Kent found that thinking hard can exhaust your body, so making sure to take breaks to wind down for a short period can really help you not to feel like you’re hitting a creative brick wall.
Keeping on task can be really hard, and working all day and night can definitely be overwhelming, which is why developing some strategies to be more productive can help you to really get things done around the office. Don’t flounder, ask for help, take breaks, and don’t be afraid to delegate to those with available skills.
Hodges, Matt. “Work Smarter, Not Harder: Productivity in the Workplace.” Atlassian Blogs. http://blogs.atlassian.com/2013/04/work-smarter-not-harder-workplace-productivity/. (29 May, 2013).
Klosowski, Thorin. “Sometimes Taking Time is Actually a Shortcut.” Lifehacker. http://lifehacker.com/sometimes-taking-time-is-actually-a-shortcut-510084757?utm_source=feedly. (29 May, 2013).
Wilson, Mark. “It’s True, Thinking Hard Really Can Wear You Out.” Lifehacker. http://lifehacker.com/its-true-thinking-hard-really-can-wear-you-out-504454695?utm_source=feedly. (29 May, 2013).