How To Work Smarter, Not Harder

tips and advice for working smarter

You know, for someone who wrote a post all about taking breaks and getting R&R (aka this post), I sure do burn myself out pretty quickly lately. I need to start taking my own advice, I know I know, but it’s so much easier to see what you need to change than to actually change it. Take now for example, as I write this post it’s currently 12.16am on a Sunday night and all I want to do is crawl into bed but I had some setbacks today (see: most frustrating day ever) and this is the first chance I’ve had to just sit and write so that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a little hamster (bare with me) running on a wheel that never stops spinning and it’s like no matter how hard I try I can’t actually get an amount of work done that I’m happy with.
It’s frustrating to say the least but I know it all comes down to the way I’m working, so I’m making changes.

Working smarter, not harder- that’s exactly what I’m doing from now on and here’s how:
_____________________________

 

Make lists and stick to them. 

I’m a flailing fish without my lists. What do I have to do today? Who knows. What time do I have to be at ‘x’ by? Who knows, so I’ll just lay here doing nothing. I’m extremely unproductive when I don’t make and stick to a daily list. I literally just make a list of tasks in the ‘Notes’ app of my phone and I can’t tell you how beneficial it is. Lists keep you on track, focused and they streamline your entire day. I’d recommend making your list the night before as well, that way you know what’s coming for the day ahead and you’ll feel prepared and ready to go.

time saving work tips

Don’t overreach. 

If you set yourself 30 tasks to do in the day, you could do what you can and push the rest to the next day but that approach can leave you feeling really deflated. To be more productive, I’ve found that setting myself a list of just the things that I need to get done in a day works so much better because I can actually finish everything. Doing this makes me feel accomplished and more motivated. Sometimes I’ll even start on the next day’s tasks and damn, that’s a good feeling!


Don’t think, just do.

I think I need to make this my life slogan because I could win awards for my procrastination tactics…so don’t think, just do. Don’t dwell on how much you don’t want to do something or how long it’ll take you, just start. Literally just get up right now and go (come back to the post later please) because the faster you start, the faster you’re done.

Set time goals.

Go old school and set yourself time goals for achieving tasks (i.e, I’m going to have ‘x’ done in 1hr), it may sound corny but it does feel pretty satisfying if you beat the clock. It can make you feel a bit like a five year old to ‘race against the clock’ but hey, I’ll take motivation wherever I can find it. Because I’m keeping an eye on the clock I find doing this keeps me from mindlessly wasting time on one task as well.

Don’t multi-task. 

Sometimes it seems like a good idea to try and juggle a couple of things at once but if I try and do a few tasks at a time I usually end up half-ass’ing them all and I’ll have to re-do them later anyway. It’s so much easier to just take things one step at a time and do things properly.

 

Sort tasks in order of importance. 

There are two kinds of people. The kind who love to get all their smaller tasks out of the way first and then there are those people who just prefer to bite the bullet and tackle the “Oh god no” tasks first and then deal with the little stuff. I switch between both of these but I think it’s always smarter to do your most important tasks first because then you don’t have to worry about them later.

Limit yourself to one tech at a time. 

I used to do work on my laptop with my phone next to me and then I’d wonder why I wasn’t getting anything done. Phones are distraction central and technology in general is addictive. To work smarter, try limiting yourself to using one piece of tech at a time. Less distractions = more productivity.

Take breaks. 

Note to self: it’s a myth that you need to work 24/7 and run yourself into the ground to accomplish the things you want in life. Even though I forget this sometimes, I don’t accomplish anything when I’m exhausted and everyone is probably the same. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a break to refresh. Sometimes a 10 minute break will do it and sometimes if you’re really burnt out take a day to refresh (if you can). Going around in circles while you’re exhausted doesn’t get you anywhere and chances are that after your break you’ll be a hell of a lot more productive.

Do you have any tips for working smarter?

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52 comments so far.

52 responses to “How To Work Smarter, Not Harder”

  1. Tash says:

    I am having time off this week to recover from moving and my number one goal is to be productive and do blog work! This post couldn't have come at a better time! Need all the motivation I can get!

    x Tash / becomingtashh.com

  2. Frances says:

    I find it so hard to take breaks and then get back into the swing of things easily. My breaks always turn into procrastination central! Totally with you on getting the most important tasks out of the way first though, although if I have some tiny things to do that will only take a couple of minutes I sometimes do these first as it's a nice feeling to get into the flow of ticking things off 🙂 xx

    Frances Kayleigh | Beauty Fashion Lifestyle

  3. For me is the best to take a break from everything, from technology, social media, work and just switch off. I feel a lot better afterwords coming back to work and feeling more inspired to keep going xx

    http://www.hairwonderfulday.com

  4. Seppy says:

    I totally relate..! I describe myself as a headless chicken running around and it feels like I'm too efficient for my own good – I'll go-go-go and then crash and unable to get off the couch!

    I love your tips and think that they're all relevant, but I feel the same as you, I know all of this, but I have to apply it consistently. I have my to do and try to be realistic about it, but then I feel disappointed in myself that I was unable to finish it all .. but then I realize that I was being 'productive' by taking a break and taking care of myself. Ugh, such dichotomy!!

    One tool that I've LOVED is my Bullet Journal because it's helped me put all my ideas, thoughts, to-do lists (i.e. my whole brain) in one place! I'm working on a blogpost right now about it so keep an eye out if you're curious about it!

    http://www.elleisforlove.com

  5. This couldn't have come at a better time! There's some really, really good advice here that I'm going to put to use! Let's do this! x

    Martha Jane | http://www.marthajaneedwards.com

  6. Lucie Aubry says:

    I think my biggest problem is that I tend to multitask a lot! This post is really helpful, we all need it at some point!
    Lucie, xx

    http://thefrenchpier.blogspot.com/

  7. Such a good read! I'm definitely feeling that at the moment while I juggle full time work and an increasing creative workload that it's SO important to work harder with the time I have – so will definitely be implementing some of these tips!

    Love your blog posts like this girl 🙂

    Ashleigh x
    http://www.ashleighdmello.com

  8. Love this! I'm all about making lists, it's very helpful.

    http://sprinkleofloove.blogspot.com/

  9. Coisa Boa says:

    You broke it down pretty well!

    Making lists has been helping me a lot recently..but I still strugge with the 'don't think, just do' haha

    Lovely blog!

    http://www.desiringsme.com/

    • Thank you, and don't worry I still struggle with that too. I just try and remind myself to get up and start doing whatever I'm avoiding rather than overthinking it.

  10. Saloca says:

    Lists are my life, I am constantly making them! It's the only way I feel like I can remember everything that needs doing – and there's something so satisfying in ticking things off once they're done! Have you ever tried the Pomodoro Technique? Basically you spend 40 minutes on a task, then take a 20 minute break. I tend to write/work on my blog for 40 then go read a book for 20. I did this one weekend and got 7 blog posts done!

    Sarah 🙂
    Saloca in Wonderland

    • I'm the exact same way, I feel like without lists I can't remember or keep track of hardly anything!

      I've only ever heard of Pomodoro as a sauce? That technique sounds really interesting though I'll try and implement that and see how I go- thanks for the tip!

  11. These are fantastic tips on working smarter! Limiting yourself to one tech device is a great idea because as soon as you try and multitask you completely lose your mojo! I find that setting a timer while I work is really good as well. It sounds lame but you're totally right… once you beat the clock you feel pretty unstoppable 😉

    Lindsey Elyse | lindseyginge

  12. Elle Thorpe says:

    This post is spot on! I'm such a procrastinator, hopefully from now on I will be able to work smarter! Having a list is a big motivation from me as without a list I get absolutely nothing done. Great post.

    Elle du Jour xxx

  13. Gabrielle says:

    ''Don't think, just do'' – that's really great advice, and especially as I've just spent the last hour procrastinating haha! Also, YUM to the plate of oreos!!

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice | Worldwide Hotel Chocolat Giveaway x

  14. Hale Saaw says:

    I really to start prioritizing tasks that are more important because I always leave them at the bottom of a list so they never get done.
    Aleeha xXx
    http://www.halesaaw.co.uk/

  15. Lindsey Puls says:

    These are all fantastic! I just recently had to take a long hard look at how I was working. My biggest was making lists and prioritizing my to-do in order of importance too. This was a really great post!

    ~Lindsey
    http://have-clothes-will-travel.com/

  16. Julia Bluhm says:

    Ahh this is such good advice. You're such a good advice giver, I could read your blog all day ahahah. I especially need to try the timed goals and the one-technology-at-a-time thing. I feel like those would really help me.
    Julia || Julia in Bluhm

  17. Tiffany Legg says:

    Taking breaks is something I almost never do! I really should though as it totally makes you more productive. Great tips!

    Tiffany Tales – Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

  18. Great tips! I always like to set a time for myself. For example I will work on this for one hour and after one hour I am done. Usually I end up wanting to work more because the hardest part it over – the sitting down and actually doing the work. Also rewarding myself with chocolates helps =o)

    dreamofadventures.blogspot.com

  19. Cherie Koh says:

    Yes to taking breaks! I used to go at it at no end and that was the worst. With work now, I usually set a timer for an hour and switch to doing something else / take a walk just to clear my mind… I'd go insane if I kept at it and you just get so tired!

    Cherie ❊ sinonym

  20. Beautiful photography! I love this post, I've been realising a lot of what you've written here too lately, I am the queen of procrastinating, but there is like you say such a thing as working yourself so hard you just end up feeling completely deflated and less inclined to do any of the things you need to do! I have also been writing myself a list of things to do the night before in my notebook, this is soo helpful and another handy thing I've been doing for my blog lately is scheduling my social media posts throughout the day the night before so I don't have to worry about that/I don't have to be on my phone as much, especially if I know I'm going to have a busy day! Lovely and very helpful post 🙂

    Xo Gemma
    Sunday Somewhere

    • Thanks for the photography kudos Gemma! I've actually been experimenting with scheduling some of my social media posts this last week or so as well and it's so much better isn't it? I know that kind of stuff shouldn't stress me but it means that I always have to be on my phone so the whole scheduling thing is kind of revolutionary for me at the moment!

  21. This is a post that I have NEEDED. I'm trying to get more organised in my working life and with my blog, so I'll definitely be taking some of these tips on board, especially the one about multi-tasking. I'm a little bit of a tornado and I try to get loads of things done at once, so I need to remember to just stop and do things one at a time. Such a helpful post! x

    Olivia – The Northernist x

  22. Phoebe says:

    Have taken a lot of your points on board, staring with going back to making lists int he morning. My days feel much more satisfying when I can see that I've accomplished things 🙂 Your advice not to multi task is also something I have taken on board. It seems like there was a decade or 2 where multi tasking was seen as such a clever things to be doing but I think people are realising as you said that they end up "half-assing" them – plus I read somewhere that it's actually not good for your brain ( can't remember why ) Anyway, sounds inauthentic, but genuinely loved your post 🙂

    • That's great Phoebe! Making lists either in the morning or the night before especially is a life saver for me, it's the only thing that keeps me organised. I remember that time as well! Everyone was pretty much encouraged to multi-task but I guess now we've all figured out that technique is a little…well, shitty!

      I didn't think your comment sounded inauthentic at all, thank you Phoebe! x

  23. ChelseaAnn says:

    Loved this! I totally think working SMARTER and not HARDER is crucial. Alotting a time frame and taking breaks is something I do all the time, I find that to be very helpful, especially when I'm studying! I try not to multi-task, sometimes I get distracted by my phone but I try to silence it or just put it away somewhere!

  24. Thanks for making this! I find I procrastinate more when I take breaks – it's something I really need to work on! I find making lists then checking them off as I finish them makes me more eager to work. Thanks for these tips, so helpful!

    Reine | Sincerely Reine

  25. This is such a fantastic post and guide! I definitely need to stop overthinking things so much because it really does lead to full on procrastination, I'm getting better at just doing things now, rather than questioning myself! Lists are also such life-savers, they help me to organise everything in my life! 😀

    Heather Xx
    100waysto30.co.uk

  26. It is very important to work smarter than to work harder. Very informative post thanks for sharing such an interesting and amazing information.
    Skin Exfoliator Cream By Revitol 🙂

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