You might have probably heard the cliché: work smarter, not harder! Well, if you haven’t, it’s a popular phrase that has been around for a while. Of course, I know no one wants to “work dumb.” Notwithstanding, most of us have done that at a point. We struggle to gain some balance between our work and lives. We don’t have to be anymore.
One thing is this: despite the fact that the phrase is so important that everyone would want to apply it in their work activities, it isn’t detailed enough to guide them on how to go about it. In fact, most people that ask you to work smart don’t even know how to do it. Most of the time, they aren’t the people that really do the work.
Now, what really is the fuss about working smart? Is it all about automating processes or tasks? Or working from home on your computer? Or does it mean you should do just one thing at a time?
As much as working smart isn’t about working hard, it isn’t about working less either. In simple terms, working smart is all about focusing on the most valuable activities. It is about working to create value – and, of course, working for pay. It’s that simple! But, it doesn’t just end there – there is more to it.
The next questions are these: how do you know the activities that bring the most value? What is the best definition of value?
The answers to the questions above will depend on where and how you work. Notwithstanding, there are general principles that could be applied to the different situations or circumstances under which everyone works. Let’s quickly dive into work smart ideas for employees and work smart ideas for students.
#1 Set realistic goals
By being overzealous with goal setting, you would have placed yourself under unnecessary pressure. In this case, you’d keep on struggling to realize your goals. This tends to impact your level of productivity. At the end of the day, you tend to go hard on yourself for not reaching your goals within the time you’ve set for yourself.
One of the work smart ideas is to realistic goals. Always ensure you can finish up a task within the specified deadline before you agree to it. You need to realize that when you plan to work smart, you don’t just set (realistic) goals – you also need to identify the most effective ways to attain them.
Therefore, if you have to stop working for some moment, do it! Leverage people by relying on their strengths and expertise. Delegate where necessary.
#2 Draw boundaries
People who have their lives revolve around their work may believe they just have to go long hours each week to get tasks completed. Sure, they are working for money. But the question is this: how far can they go? Besides, it isn’t even healthy to work all day with little to no time to have enough rest. This could be regarded as hard work.
A way to work smart in this case is by drawing boundaries around work hours. For instance, let people be aware of your working hours and time – and don’t go beyond the period. This requires that you get strict because people may want you to castigate yourself. In fact, you shouldn’t reply to emails during off-work hours. Remember the pay, time, and skill are all yours. Therefore, you should determine how you use them.
#3 Collaborate less
Many people believe they have more to gain by taking on a lot of work at a time, either by collaborating more. This, however, has shown to be untrue at all times. Research reveals that top performers collaborate less. They don’t follow the bandwagon effect by jumping into every task and project. Rather, they carefully sift them and identify the one(s) with the most value.
They then make concerted efforts and direct necessary resources towards the few ones they’ve chosen. It’s a case of exerting one’s expertise on a few activities. Of course, you should expect to have the best possible outcome.
#4 Key Takeaway
Above everything, working smart revolves around having personal values and knowing your self-worth. Even if you’re working for a company, when a task goes against your values, for instance, you should decline. The moment you accede to it, it may become your responsibility to do it – and you may not be happy with it. Therefore, set realistic goals and find the best way to reach them, have some time-off, and always work (or collaborate) on the right tasks.