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5 things you can do to work smarter, not harder

Whatever your line of work, it’s likely you’ve been working late at some point in your career. This is becoming increasingly common with remote work, with the boundaries between work and home life increasingly blurred. Help is at hand, with simple steps you can take to work smarter, not harder. Give them a try and you’ll see positive changes in your work-life balance in no time.

1. Prioritize your tasks

At the start of each day, scan your emails for important communications and make a “to-do” list with high priority tasks. Focus on your most urgent tasks first when you are fresh to have the best chance of getting them done on time. 

2. Break large tasks up

Dealing with the thought of a complicated or large task can feel overwhelming and lead to procrastination and working longer hours. Break large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. For instance, if you have a presentation due, focus on individual sections; at the end it will all come together.

3. Be realistic when estimating time

If you want to work smarter, not harder, it’s important to give yourself a realistic estimate for completing projects. Underestimating your time can lead to increased stress levels in your attempts to complete a task. Conversely, if you overestimate the time it will take to finish, it can lead to procrastination and delays with finishing other projects. 

Introducing time tracking into your daily routine using a tool like the Timeular Tracker can help you see exactly where your time goes. Its to-the-minute accuracy and rich analytics lets you easily quantify how much time distractions cost and plan future projects with a higher degree of precision. 

4. Learn to deal with interruptions

Interruptions can’t be avoided, but too many can have a significant impact on your ability to be more productive. This can result in frustration and more time being needed to complete tasks. 

Determine your most common types of interruptions and develop a plan to control them. If you find yourself constantly checking your phone for new messages, put the phone in a drawer while you work. Other things you can do to avoid interruptions include:

  • Turn off notifications for text messages, emails and instant messages
  • Find a quiet area in the office or your home to work
  • Only check messages after completing a task
  • Wear headphones to block out outside noise

5. Ask for help

Sometimes the most important thing you can do when it comes to managing your time and getting work done is by learning to say no. It’s part of prioritizing what you need to do to get things done. Do not agree to any tasks that will interfere with your schedule.

It’s completely natural to think that you can handle all projects thrown your way, but in most situations, there are times when it isn’t feasible to do everything. Work smarter, not harder, by calling on colleagues to help you when possible and being first to put yourself forward to help others too. Not only will you show that you are willing to offer a hand, but it will reduce your apprehensions about asking for help when you need it.

It’s easier than you think to work smarter, not harder. Taking the time to plan how you approach your work and putting the right processes in place to tackle common obstacles will help you create space in life for more rewarding activities.

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