Many people believe that the key to success is to work hard, but what if I tell you it’s not?
Yes, working hard has been an employee’s green flag standard for many years, but it’s also something that causes burnout for most of us. We always thought that the more work we do, the more productive we become, or the longer time we spend on a task, the more efficient we become, but…
That’s a big NO NO! That’s not always the case.
Along with working hard, you also have to work smart. You might be asking, “What’s the meaning of working smart?”
To help you understand better, you can think of working smart as being efficient– completing a set of tasks with excellence in a short period. Working smart also pertains to using some tools for work that can make your time-consuming tasks lighter and help you improve productivity.
Starting this new way of working isn’t as complicated as it may seem. In fact, we listed here the ways you can work smarter and stop wasting time.
Table of Contents
Read more: How To Be Productive In Small Ways?
10 best ways to work smarter, not harder
1. Declutter your workspace
We all experience clutter (especially in our workspace!). Though it might seem like a small problem, clutter has some adverse effects on our minds making us unproductive. Psychology Today listed some negative effects of clutter on our minds, and it includes the following:
- It distracts us.
- It floods our minds with excessive stimuli.
- It gives us stress by not allowing us to relax mentally and physically.
- It gives our brains the message that our work is never done.
- It makes us anxious and worried.
- It steals our creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow us to think.
That’s why decluttering your workspace– whether at home, or the office is a perfect way to start your journey to working smart. Aside from helping you improve your focus, it also helps you quickly find the things you need to accomplish a specific task.
After reading this article, you can start decluttering your workspace by removing unnecessary files and papers on your desks and using folders to organize essential files and documents. To add, you can also use organizers for pens, papers, and books-they are in demand now, so you can quickly find them in stores.
There are also times when it’s not our desks that need decluttering. It’s our thoughts that need to be refreshed and organized. With that said, we recommend you start doing meditation and journaling, where you list your thoughts, realization, and more.
Pro Tip: Your online files also need decluttering, so you’ll need a tool like PlatoForms to convert PDF files to forms, save them online, or merge them into a PDF Master form.
2. Stop multitasking
“The high multitaskers were doing worse and worse the further they went along because they kept seeing more letters and had difficulty keeping them sorted in their brains.” -Ophir on Standford Study about multitasking
If you still think that multitasking can help you quickly finish your tasks, well, a Standford study shows it’s actually not. Social scientists concluded that our brains couldn’t process more than one information thread at a time. After giving a few tests to high multitaskers, it’s found out that they find it difficult to focus and even remember things.
Indeed, multitasking can do great harm to our mental health. Additionally, there’s another article from Psychology Today that lists ten harmful effects of multitasking, and here are they:
- It keeps us from being productive and efficient.
- It increases the chances of depression.
- It increases stress.
- It can harm relationships.
- It can lead to broken bones.
- It hurts a student’s grades
- It can cause traffic.
- The more we multitask, the more chances that we get distracted from a task.
- It can lead to memory issues.
- It harms our brains.
These results and information show how harmful multitasking can be to your productivity and wellness, so we suggest you stop doing it now.
Instead, do your best to set a time for each task and focus on doing them one at a time.
3. Time track your tasks
Timing yourself while doing your tasks is also a way to work smarter. It helps you focus, think faster, and maximize the time given for a specific job. There are lots of time tracking tools that can help you with this. Some that we can suggest are Pomodoro Timer, Clockify, and Hubstaff.
4. Plan, but not too much
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” says Benjamin Franklin.
One of the reasons we struggle with productivity is that we don’t know what, where, and how to start. This is why planning our day, month, or year is essential. Planning gives us a sense of direction on how we’ll spend our time on a specific task or activity, enabling us to get things done without hesitations and time-consuming decision-making.
Aside from those reasons, here are other benefits you can get from planning:
- It helps you avoid anxiety.
- It increases your focus
- It gives you clarity.
- It enables you to achieve a work-life balance.
Planning may sound tricky, but you can start it by simply creating a list of tasks in a day. Planners are also all over the market, so finding one won’t be difficult.
On the other hand, while planning can contribute a lot to your productivity, too much planning can also do harm to it. In fact, a study conducted at the University of Rochester found out that those students that have daily specific plans spend less and less time studying. They also end up not filling out their planning worksheets after a month. While those who have a monthly plan were reported to be studying more than any other group within the experiment.
This study shows that you don’t need to be too specific when it comes to planning your tasks, the simpler it is the better.
5. Take a break
Never underestimate the power of taking breaks. The days when we consider pausing as a sign of laziness are gone. A 2011 study by the University of Illinois states that our attentional resources drop when we perform a task for a long time. That said, taking short breaks between tasks is essential to keep us focused and more productive. The Pomodoro Technique is one of the best ways we can recommend to help you get started with it.
6. Use productivity tools
What’s good about technology is that it continuously helps us solve our dilemmas. Today, there are productivity tools that can help us work smarter every day. Here’s a list of some tools we suggest:
- PlatoForms (For PDF files and file workflows)
- Zapier (For automation)
- Trello (For project management)
- Google Calendar (For appointments and task reminders)
- Slack (For communication)
- Free Logo Creator (For branding)
Pro Tip: If you’re working with a team, a PDF workflow tool like PlatoForms can help you quickly share and change information without reproducing your files. It also allows each member to complete a PDF form online with several steps saving both your time and energy.
7. Take deadlines seriously
If you want to work smart, you must remember that deadlines are set for you to follow. Use deadlines as motivation to quickly finish your tasks and do your best to meet them. (But don’t forget to keep the quality of your work still!)
If you’re one of those people who struggle to meet deadlines, here are some things you can do to improve in this aspect:
- Set reminders before the due date.
- Start with what’s familiar and easy for you.
- Prioritize important and urgent tasks.
- Don’t wait until the deadline; if you know you can finish the given task earlier, then finish it earlier so you can have enough time for revisions.
8. Find your best time for productivity
One of the best ways to be productive is to find the time where you can work with less distraction and when your mind is set to work. For example, if you’re a night person who’s more awake and active at night, then the best time for you to work is during the night. The same thing goes if you’re a morning person.
For others, the case could be that there are fewer distractions and noise during the night, so they become more productive working at that time.
9. Delegate and batch tasks
Doing piles of tasks at once can be messy and distractive, so it’s also crucial that you break them down into small tasks that you can quickly accomplish. Let’s say you have a content writing task; you can break down this task into small ones like content outline creation, content writing, and proofreading.
You also don’t need to work on the tasks alone, especially if you have a team. Learn how to ask for help and delegate tasks if possible. With this, you can focus on more critical studies, while your teammates can use most of their time.
10. Stick to a routine
It might sound cliché, but it’s still essential if you want to improve your productivity, so set a routine you can follow. Sticking to a routine makes you more efficient by enabling you to know exactly what activities you need to do without further thinking about it. With that said, it helps you save your very precious time.
Here are also some other benefits you can get from sticking to a routine:
- It helps you achieve both short-term and long-term goals.
- It encourages healthy habits.
- It allows you to maximize your time.
- It helps you have time for what energizes you.
You don’t have to start big to work smart; little steps matter and they will surely bring you success soon. Start with these ten steps until you achieve great results!
Benefits of working smart
Working smart requires a lot of practice and progress, but it’ll be all worth it as you’ll gain the following benefits:
- You’ll have more time for your loved ones and other personal stuff.
- Working smart helps you increase creativity and productivity, creating a sense of fulfilment.
- It lessens the possibility of anxiety and stress by helping you have control over your tasks.
- Working smart contributes to your mental wellness by giving you enough time to meditate, socialize, and pursue your passion.
- Working smart enables you to maximize your time for more important errands because you can get small tasks done in a short period.
- Working smart allows you to be more efficient in your work because you meet deadlines without sacrificing the quality of your work.
Work smarter with PlatoForms PDF Form Converter
PlatoForms is an online tool that helps you quickly convert PDF to form, saving time and achieving your productivity goals. It also allows your team and clients to complete PDF forms online, enabling a more efficient workflow. With the help of Slack Integration, you can also receive real-time notifications and updates automatically. Work smarter, not harder, starting today. Sign up here!