In 2022, it often feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Many people feel constantly behind at work, which isn’t good for either themselves or their productivity.
Longer hours appear to be the only solution, but in fact by staying focused on what really matters and streamlining your everyday routine, you can train yourself to work smarter, not harder.
There are many differences between smart and hard work; you can take a look at our chart to see the more obvious ones:
If you find yourself exhausted at work, it’s not too late to change tack. Cognition Agency has put together 10 top tips to help your team work smarter, not harder.
1. Quit multitasking
The phrase “juggling too many things at once” exists for a reason; inevitably, they all come crashing down. If you work in a fast-paced environment, it’s almost impossible to perform well while trying to multitask throughout the day. And when you do, it’s your productivity and work that suffer most.
Next time you feel like multitasking, stop and think about what you’re actually doing at that moment. Wouldn’t it be better if you completed your first task well, before moving on to the second? Remain calm and stay focused on one thing at a time for the best results.
2. Manage your surroundings
Where we work can have a direct impact on how we work. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your surroundings and make necessary adjustments so distractions are minimised.
This can be anything from decluttering your office to keeping your phone as far away as possible during busy periods. In fact, the American Psychological Association discovered that just having a phone nearby can lead to underperformance of around 20%, much more than if it’s completely out of sight. So, when you’re not on calls with colleagues or clients, do yourself a favour and put some distance between you and your handset; it could really help you work smarter.
3. Create a routine and stick to it
Human beings are creatures of habit, and routines can help satisfy this urge. Establishing routines lets us complete tasks quicker because we don't have to “think” about them as much. It also means less preparation, and because we can work on autopilot for certain things, our minds remain free to accomplish other goals.
Switching up certain steps of your current routine is one of the best ways to work smarter not harder. An earlier bedtime and early-morning wakeup, more forward planning on day-to-day tasks, and online calendar management are great habits to incorporate into a routine and stick to for smarter working.
4. Integrate tasks with your calendar
Speaking of calendar management, integrating your tasks and online calendar in one easily accessible location can be helpful when it comes to increasing productivity and efficiency at work.
Take Elon Musk, for example. He uses a method known as “timeboxing” to divide his day into ‘chunks’, during which tasks can be completed. This allows him to make the most of his time. But of course other experts have their own productivity and efficiency tips that help drive them to success, so be sure to check them out!
5. Trim your to-do list
There’s nothing wrong with scaling back your to-do list. It’s usually common practice at work for people to focus on non-essential tasks that add little or no value to their job, but seem vital to their companies’ expectations.
Collaborative planning, organisation and delegation between you and your team members will help make everyone’s to-do lists more manageable. Remember, a key difference between working smart vs working hard is continuously evaluating your schedule, and coming up with solutions that benefit everyone with regard to productivity.
6. Automate where possible
In addition to establishing a strong routine for yourself and sticking to good habits, automation may be helpful, as this can save you time and energy when accomplishing your daily tasks.
Automation affects all aspects of our lives. The patterns we set for ourselves are all automated; how we dress for work counts just as much as how we sign off our emails. And while we should always be open to learning new skills and adapting to fresh ideas, by automating the simpler parts of our working lives, we can concentrate on delivering results in the areas that really matter.
7. Conciseness is key
The world today is busier than ever; everyone seems to have less and less time. Therefore you should always aim for conciseness, as a brief, clear, direct approach to work will help you to complete tasks in a timely manner.
Being concise can also come in handy when:
- Hosting meetings and events
- Networking with other industry professionals
- Nurturing leads
- Pitching to potential new clients
A great example of someone using conciseness to revolutionise their business is McDonald’s co-founder Ray Kroc, whose persistence and attention to detail helped the McDonald brothers create an efficient new assembly line that maintained their products’ quality while reducing wait times. The McDonald’s formula of prioritising efficiency without sacrificing standards has gone on to establish the company as one of the world’s most successful businesses.
8. Talk about your tasks
On a personal and professional level, healthy communication is a good thing. It helps everyone see exactly what your current situation is, and provides a solid foundation from which to discuss the most positive steps forward.
Work smarter, not harder by talking about your tasks with colleagues. Perhaps they can offer a fresh perspective on an idea that you’re stuck on, or maybe you can help them meet urgent deadlines. Effective communication can help teams bring out the best in each other; we suggest you start practicing it immediately.
9. Use technology wisely
Technology can both help and hinder productivity. Knowing how to use technology wisely will go a long way in streamlining your workflow processes and achieving greater efficiency overall.
Drafting every email from scratch? Consider designing templates for various work-related scenarios; this should cut down your composition time. Alternatively, you could go further and integrate all your digital workflows into one efficient inbound marketing platform, like HubSpot, which will help you keep track of your tasks and progress across various business areas.
10. Take care of yourself
If you’re wondering how to work smarter not harder, start by looking after your greatest resource: you! Sleep, exercise and relaxation are key components of personal and professional success for anyone who wants to learn how to be more efficient at work.
A healthy breakfast, morning workout, lunchtime walk and quality rest are things we know can help us feel better throughout the day. It’s important to make sure you’re in the best shape possible for work, so both your energy and productivity levels remain high.
Working smarter, not harder can help us be more productive and, ultimately, feel a greater sense of accomplishment at the end of each day. If you want your digital marketing to be a success, contact the team at Cognition Agency for smart, effective strategies that could really help grow your business.