10 Tips to Work Smarter, Not Harder
Focus on Efficiency at Work

You probably consider yourself a hard worker. You’re a go-getter with immense pride in your effort levels. However, whether you’re an employee, business owner or just work for yourself, you can put in as many hours as you like – you can’t make more in the day. In the very best case, you have 24 of them, and even that isn’t exactly ideal as sleep, food and a social life are every bit as important to your success as the work itself.

As long as you have flexibility in your work and it’s not the same thing over and over again, you’ll find that you don’t need more hours. Instead, you can make the time you spend more efficient and receive a noticeable improvement in results. We cover many different aspects of productivity in the tips below, so read on to find out how to squeeze more into the same number of hours – or potentially even less.

1. Time Management Sits at the Core of Smart Work

As we covered in the introduction, there are only so many hours in the day. It’s not about how many you spend, but how you spend them. If you feel there are improvements to be made in your time management skills, you want to get that out of the way first. There are plenty of time management tips available right here on the site, and we highly recommend finding something that works for you.

2. Get Your Computer Use Down to an Art

Whether you’re a florist or an engineer, there’s a good chance that at least part of your working day involves computer use. Of course, many workers spend their entire day in front of a screen. Whether you only devote a few minutes here and there to emails and supplier orders, or you write and type for hours on end, it’s essential to know all about the time-saving options available to you.

While we could put together an entire series of articles on computer tips – and inevitably have and will – the first place to start is with shortcuts. Unsurprisingly, anything that enables you to do something quicker is perfect for this feature. Keyboard shortcuts are the obvious place to start as the seconds saved will soon add up. From there, you can begin to experiment with extra software that will take care of repetitive, potentially complex tasks in short order.

3. Introduce Specialist Productivity Tools

If your work runs on the back of a pen and paper, there are obvious upgrades to make. Even if you feel like you’ve got your processes down, unless you specialise in software, there may be something out there that will make your life easier. Timers, CRM tools and much more can all come together to make your life much more comfortable.

4. Don’t Forget that Phones Exist

Modern phones do so much. They’re cameras, music players, messaging tools and just about anything else you need. Don’t forget, however, that you can also use them to speak to people! If you have specific requirements from a conversation or know someone that loves a game of email tennis, get straight to the point and get things done with a phone call.

5. Close Off Tabs at the End of the Day

Most jobs that involve a computer also require access to the internet. We’re not here to judge how you spend your time – although browsing Facebook for an hour could be against the principles of this feature! Nevertheless, you probably read a lot of web pages on any given day and there will be some you want to come back to. However, it’s best to deal with them as they arise. Even those that remain open all day should ideally get cleared off before you next start work, as you don’t want to lose an hour sorting through them.

6. Expand Your To-Do Lists in the Other Direction

To-do lists are fantastic and barely does a productivity feature here at 10 Tips go by without us mentioning their usefulness and importance to your approach. However, you could potentially take them in a different direction through a focus on your ‘not to do’ lists. Some tasks are more critical than others, and if you can clarify which ones can wait until another day, that’s one fewer thing to think about.

7. Handle Social Interactions as Concisely as Possible

As valuable as social interactions can be, both in work and out, they can go on too long. Practice saying what you need to in as little time as possible – don’t hang around on the phone with dead air and have an idea about what you need to say to introduce yourself to new people. That’s not to say that some people don’t deserve all the time they need, but if you’ve got better things to do, you should cut down on your speeches without becoming rude.

8. Practice Asking Questions

Times will arise where you need further clarification on something. Get used to the idea of only asking the most relevant questions. Think about what you need to know. If you arrange a meeting, figure out when and where it will be and who needs to be there. If there’s anything you don’t know, quickly decide who to ask and what you need. Get it done then get back to what you were doing before.

9. Train Yourself for Efficiency

You cannot overlook your own efforts when it comes to efficiency. If you’re tired or hungry, you won’t operate at your peak. Time spent eating, and sleeping might be considered wasted, but they’re a fact of life and if you want to make your work hours productive, you need to look after yourself in your downtime.

10. Smarter or Harder – Choose One

If you go to the effort of working smarter over harder, don’t feel like your next goal is to combine the two. If you want to cut your working hours from 12 to 8, don’t succeed and then attempt to work smarter for 12 hours each day again. Efficiency will slip back to normal, and all of your efforts will ultimately be for nothing.