You come across all kinds of new sayings these days that have been popularized by social media. One that always springs to mind is the idea that you should work smarter, not harder.
It’s a funny saying, isn’t it? Right away, it goes against everything that we’ve been brought up to know. Since you were kids, your parents always emphasized the importance of working hard. If you’re a hard worker, you’ll get somewhere in life, right?
So, what exactly do we mean when we talk about working smarter and not harder? It’s an interesting point to discuss as a lot of people get the wrong end of the stick. They think you shouldn’t work hard at all, and life is about taking the easiest possible option. That’s not really what this saying is about. Carry on reading, and we’ll reveal what this saying means and how you can implement it into your daily life!
What does it mean to work smarter, not harder?
Working smarter means you are planning your approach to work in a more efficient and productive manner. Instead of spending hours a day grinding through work, you’re optimizing your daily routine.
Now, this doesn’t mean you always take the easiest path. Instead, it’s all about prioritizing the work that means the most to you. This way, all of the tasks you do in a day will contribute to a feeling of productivity.
Why should you work smarter, not harder?
The whole purpose of this saying is to encourage you to rethink your approach to life. Working harder all the time will mean you’re constantly doing things. This puts you under immense stress, particularly when a lot of the work isn’t fulfilling and doesn’t really contribute to your overall productivity.
Working smarter, not harder, should help you de-stress. It is much better for your mental health because you feel more productive and efficient. You tick things off your to-do list every day without feeling intense stress from overworking.
If you work harder not smarter, you run the risk of running yourself into the ground. This is how most people experience burnout; you’re taking on too many tasks without considering the optimal way to approach them.
How can you work smarter, not harder?
Now, we come to the big question: how do you apply this mantra to your daily life? Many of us struggle to work smarter because all we’ve ever known is the grind. We’re so used to doing everything all the time; the concept of taking on a lighter workload seems so foreign.
Right away, the key to working smarter is to ensure that you get key things done without overworking yourself. So, you can’t just do less work and think you’ve worked smarter. Instead, here are some key points to keep in mind:
Set daily goals
Whenever we talk about productivity, goal setting is the first thing to do. After all, what is the best way to measure productivity? That’s right, you measure your daily productivity by seeing what you’ve achieved compared to what you hoped to achieve. Setting daily goals will give you some clear things to aim for. At the end of the day, you will aim to have all of the goals ticked off.
The secret is setting achievable and meaningful goals. Consider what the most important things are for each day. You can apply this to your work life, but also your personal life. Write down a few things you need to achieve by the end of the day. Immediately, your work revolves around them. Any work that doesn’t contribute to achieving a goal can be ignored as it’s a waste of time and effort.
Prioritize your goals
After setting goals, you need to prioritize them by order of importance. This is a crucial element of working smarter, not harder. Tackle the most important goals first and you will feel more accomplished earlier in the day.
Think about it, there’s no logic in spending hours on tasks that aren’t that important. Instead, you should focus on the tasks that have the most importance to your day. Once you’ve prioritized them, you can begin working through them.
Automate certain tasks
Automation is something that’s made working smarter a reality. Before automation, it was much harder to work smarter during the day. Now, we have the technology to assist us, streamlining so many different processes.
Essentially, you should automate as many tasks as possible. If you’re a business owner, this is a key aspect of workforce optimization to help everyone work smarter. Instead of people spending hours reading or replying to emails, you automate this process. Use email management software to automatically scan and reply to emails that don’t require a proper response. For example, confirmation emails or customer service emails can all be handled by automated software. As a result, workers are free to devote more time to the important tasks at hand. The same approach can be applied to individuals working from home; find ways to automate your day as much as possible.
We briefly touched upon this when talking about goals, but being realistic is a crucial part of working smarter, not harder. Too many of us set goals or deadlines every day that are impossible to reach. As such, we work overtime and grind ourselves to the bone trying to achieve them. Sure, you may reach the deadline you set, but at what cost?
Whenever you give yourself a goal or daily deadline, think about if it’s realistic or necessary. Do you need to complete this thing by the end of the day? Perhaps it is better as a weekly target? You’ll be amazed at how many things can be completed in a couple of days instead of one, yet you won’t feel any negative effects of taking an extra day.
In conclusion, working smarter, not harder is all about prioritizing your work and dealing with important and valuable tasks while ignoring things that aren’t essential. You should automate as many of the non-essential tasks as possible, meaning your productive hours are filled with tackling things that genuinely matter. As a result, you expend less energy, feel less stressed, yet get more stuff done.