The phrase work smarter not harder could have a different meaning for everyone. After researching this phrase, I discovered the term originated in the 1930’s by Allen F. Morgenstern. As an industrial engineer, he created a work simplification program to increase productivity using less effort.
There are differing opinions on this idea, some agree, while others don’t. These opinions come from the perspective of each person. My perspective, or opinion, leans the way of agreement in the phrase, work smarter not harder. Allow me to explain.
In the past I wrote an article titled ‘Why I Say Professional Organizers Are Lazy’. The gist of this article speaks to the term work smarter not harder. In the article I explain why I say that. In a nutshell, professional organizers find ways to complete tasks with the least amount of effort.
Everyone has their own ways of doing things, and as I’ve said in the past, what works for one may not work for another. Finding ways to work smarter not harder based on your specific lifestyle requires some internal investigation.
Think about the ways that you work on projects and tasks, both professionally and personally. Then look at the list below to see if any of these ways will work for you. Including ways to work smarter not harder will allow you to get things done easily and consequently reduce your stress in the process.
Naturally this way would be first on the list! When all of your things are organized, you can find what you need quickly. You don’t waste time looking for required items to work on a task or project. Your spaces are clear and there is no clutter to distract you from thinking clearly.
You probably have a lot of things swirling around in your head. Do a brain dump by getting them out of your head and onto a piece of paper, or if you’re electronically inclined, on your computer or phone. Knowing what you need to do is the first step.
Now that you understand what you want to get done, put those tasks on a to-do list. You may have more than one list. I know that many will tell you not to do that but sometimes it’s necessary. For example, you may have one list for work and another list for home. That’s ok, it’s less confusing that way. At this point you want to prioritize the tasks on your list(s).
Using processes is a great way to work smarter not harder. I am a huge fan of using processes for repetitive tasks. Whether it’s work related or personally, everyone has repetitive tasks of some sort.
When you put a process together by listing the steps, and referring to the process each time you perform the task, it will become a routine or a habit and you get things done quicker.
But don’t become complacent and stop referring to these processes, or you take the risk of forgetting a step. It may not seem like a big deal, but it may cost time and/or money, and in the professional realm may be detrimental to your career.
This is a good way to streamline processes. As you work a process and the situation changes, tweak the process to adapt to the change. This may occur in the way of eliminating a step or steps in the process. By eliminating a step, the consequence is likely to save time. Be mindful though, not to sacrifice quality in your quest to streamline a process.
This point is probably the most effective way to work smarter not harder. When you schedule all tasks, projects and appointments, there is no question when and what you should be doing at any given time.
Use your prioritized to-do list to schedule all tasks and appointments, either in a paper planner or an electronic device. Check your paper planner frequently, or set up audible alerts on your electronic device to stay on schedule.
Factor in additional time for travel, or unexpected things that may pop up. Downtime also needs to be factored in to your busy schedule. Downtime is not wasted time, it’s a time to regroup, relax and refresh to achieve an effective work smarter not harder strategy.