How to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Most of us have heard the advice to work smarter, not harder. However, is it possible to find a balance between working smart while also being a hard worker? Having a good work ethic and doing what it takes to get the job done is one of the most important traits that a career minded individual or entrepreneur can have. One downfall to working hard and being diligent is experiencing burnout. This article will address ways how to avoid burnout by working smarter, not harder—and still maintaining a high level of work quality.

Ways to Work Smarter and Not Harder

1. Understand that Breaks are Good for You

It has been proven that taking breaks during the work day can improve productivity and relieve your stress. If you sit too long during the day, that behaviour will impair your circulation. Simply by taking a few 15 minute breaks—including a lunch break—you will be more productive during the work day. You will experience increased energy and a spark in your creativity.

2. Create Two Types of Task Lists

A second way to work smarter and not harder is to create a to-do list and a to-don’t list. The first list is a way to keep your day organised so that you are keeping yourself on track with the prioritised goals you need to complete each day. I like to write my list the night before so that I take a few focused moments to make sure I am tasking myself with the appropriate tasks. This article shares six steps to assist you in creating a functional to-do list as well as a listing of helpful resources like The second list to create is a to-don’t list. Such a list can help you to stay focused during the work day. If you have a weakness for constantly checking your personal emails or surfing through the newsfeeds on Facebook or Twitter—put them on the to-don’t list. These simple reminders can help you stop wasting time.  

3. Journaling is Good for the Soul

This step is especially good for entrepreneurs and managers or those who have careers in advertising, writing and other creative fields. Keep a journal handy and when you have inspiration and creative ideas during the day, write them down so you won’t forget them. It’s a smarter option rather than stressing over the worry of forgetting ideas. It’s also a good idea to keep yourself organised with various deadlines, career goals and projects. has compiled a list of the five best journaling tools. One of the practical online tools with a free pricing option, is

4. There’s Nothing Wrong with Delegating  

I’m the type of person who is independent and likes to do things myself. As a small business owner, that was a type of behavior that I needed to change. Even though my business is “my baby,” I had to learn to delegate tasks to the appropriate people. As an employee before I owned my own business, I had to work through the same issue. It was difficult for me to ask for help when I needed it. In order to work smarter and not harder, it benefits you to surround yourself with people who have succeeded and also those who want success as much as you do. If you have such people around, you’ll have an easier time of delegating tasks. This applies to business owners and others in management positions.

5. There are Only So Many Hours in a Day

When you’re creating your to-do list as well as your daily and weekly schedule, remember not to crowd too much in. Estimate extra time for projects and tasks so that you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete them—rather than dejection when you can’t complete your list and overbook your day. Any business owner and manager knows that problems can and will arise. If you provide yourself with buffer time zones in your daily schedule, then you will have time to deal with crises when they arise. Google calendar and Doodle are two online scheduling tools that can help you organise your work schedule. 

6. Plan for a Weekly Rest Day

If you are a small business owner, freelance consultant or manager at a company, there are many times that you have had to work through the weekend. That is fine every now and then. However, even though your business and office may “need” you, it is important that you devote at least one day of each week to taking a rest. It helps if this day is the same one each week so that you have a consistent reminder to take a day to rest. Your physical and mental health will thank you. This is a way to work smarter, not harder. Your body and mental state will have a chance to re-energise and be ready to get back to work with a honed focus.

Deciding to work smarter, not harder is one of the best things you can do for your business or employer—depending on which end of the spectrum you’re at. Working so hard that you burnout and lose your focus is not going to bring you to the successful achievements you’re seeking to accomplish. Your plan should begin with you understanding the fact that you need to have daily breaks and at least one day per week that you leave work behind and relax. Create daily task lists and be smart with your scheduling habits. Don’t be afraid to delegate. Following your dreams of professional career and business success are achievable if you are smart and diligently follow your plan.


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