Habits Productivity

5 Ways To Truly Work Smarter Not Harder

By Brendon Cammell on 31 January 2022

Many of us claim to work smarter not harder, but are we really practicing what we preach?

We’ve all done it – someone compliments us for completing a task in an simpler or less taxing way than the one they were aware of and we respond with something along the lines of “I prefer to work smarter not harder!”

But is that really the case?

Are you really doing everything you can to make your own life easier and ensure that your future is as bright as you like to imagine it?

If you can honestly answer that question in the affirmative, what are you doing reading an article like this one? Get out of here and go back to hanging out with the other perfect people in whatever alternate reality you came from.

For everybody else, here are some ideas about how to make work work for you:

1. Work less

It may sound too good to be true, but deciding to work less total hours each day, week or month is actually a viable strategy in the battle to work smarter not harder.

Concepts such as the four-day workweek, reduced office hours and other hybrid work models that allow employees greater flexibility are begging to gain traction. A cynic might conclude that any idea purporting to help people work less would obviously be popular, yet scientists are coming to the same conclusions. 

It turns out that people really do tend to be just as productive or even more so than usual when offered the opportunity to gain additional free time if they can complete tasks faster. Nor does the quality of the work suffer. In fact, it tends to improve.

In other words, the carrot really is better than the stick. Wow, who would have guessed?

If you doubt that your job could be done in less time than it currently takes, try to take take a leaf out of the book of the growing number of ‘overemployed’ white collar workers who have found a way to hold down two, three, and in some cases even four full-time jobs at the same time (normally without the knowledge of their employers, of course).

Work less, spend more time with loved ones

If they can handle that, you can probably do just one job in less time if you really set your mind to it. If that really is impossible, either because your boss is a jerk who starts sentences with phrases like “Those millennial snowflakes” and “Back when I started out in this industry” or because the type of work you do simply can’t be done faster then you’ll need to consider some other options.

2. Invest in yourself

Investing valuable time and money into further education may not sound like a way to work smarter not harder, especially if you already have a lot on your plate and are looking for ways to lessen your load and not increase it. But sometimes you need to play the long game.

Woman learning coding

If you’re serious about creating a truly comfortable and sustainable life for yourself and your family, you need either substantial financial resources or a heck of a lot of knowledge – more realistically, you’ll likely be aiming for solid mixture of both. 

To succeed in a hyper-competitive global economy you need an edge. Whether it’s mastering SEO, learning a new skill set that is in high demand or becoming a true expert in your current field, setting yourself apart from the crowd is the best way to shorten the otherwise long hard slog to rise above it. 

On the other end of the spectrum, you could save up enough cash to buy a piece of land in a remote location and become a master of permaculture, natural building and fungi identification. Sure, you’ll spend just as many hours or more of each day ‘working’ to support your needs, but the type of work you do, where you do it, who you do it with and most of all your perception of it all play a massive role in determining whether it enriches your life or drains your vital energy.

Similarly, investing in your health and personal/spiritual growth will lead to all kinds of improvements in your life, state of mind and even your bank balance. Unfortunately, health and personal development often end up below what we consider more pressing concerns. Yes, it’s true that you need to make sure the bills are paid and get the kids to soccer practice, but perhaps the next time you’re about to turn on Netflix, play a sneaky round of Candy Crush or manage your Fantasy Football team you might want to ask yourself if that time could be better spent?

3. Consider going freelance

Another increasingly popular option among those determined to work smarter not harder is to switch to freelancing. While leaving the security of contracted full-time employment behind may be daunting, what you give up in certainty you gain back in opportunity. You know, nothing ventured nothing gained, no risk no reward, and all that jazz.

There are more and more fields where this is becoming possible or even the norm, while there are no shortage of websites offering to connect freelancers of all levels with an entire world of employers.

It can take time to establish yourself as a freelancer if you’re not already well-connected within your industry and there can be ups and downs, especially in the beginning. Yet this way of life also allows you the kind of flexibility that single-employer jobs cannot. Better yet, if you can deliver results for your clients, your income and reputation will grow exponentially quicker than if you were stuck in long-term contract with a single company.

Freelancing is a great way to work smarter not harder

4. Improve your time management

While the idea of switching to a four-day workweek, going freelance or retraining to become a data scientist or get a future-proof job in the green economy may sound great in theory, these strategies are not always achievable in practice or can take some time to pay dividends. If you need solutions RIGHT NOW, one of the best places to start is with good old-fashioned time management. 

This route is neither glamorous nor particularly easy, but it works.

The first step to improving your time management is to do an honest assessment of your current habits. This will allow you to identify areas of your life where time could be saved and/or efficiency could be increased. This requires brutal honesty and maybe even some consultation with those who know you best.

Once you’ve identified areas that can be improved you’ll be better able to decide on viable solutions. Maybe it’s making better use of your calendar, or perhaps you need to get creative to solve issues unique to you. Here are some time-management skills you can work on and improve if you’re serious about working smarter not harder.

Weekly planner app

5. Streamline your life using technology

Technology is by definition “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes”. In its purest form, it makes our lives easier by allowing us to do things that would either be impossible using the human body alone or would require many hands, much time and backbreaking labor. It’s our species’ #1 strategy for working smarter not harder.

Of course, you already know all that because you’re reading this on a device that even many alive now wouldn’t have dreamed possible a few decades ago, connected to a world-wide-web of other devices that allow people to send unimaginable amounts of data and communicate in real-time using signals that are invisible to the human eye.

Robot preparing food

 Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence promise to make our jobs so much easier that we are no longer required to do them. Although thankfully we’re still a ways away from that eventuality. For now, they seem to be best at augmenting human work and increasing our creativity.

Like it’s creators technology also has a dark side. With one hand it offers us the promise of unimaginable productivity, while with the other it attempts to steal every moment of our attention by harvesting enough data points to know us better than our loved ones.

That’s where a productivity app like FocusMe comes in. If you struggle to maintain your concentration while working in front of a screen, this is the guardrail you need. It’s simple, really, the app employs powerful code that forces you to stay within the digital boundaries you set for yourself.
If you’re serious about improving your productivity, this is the tool that will help you to do it. Don’t take our word for it though. Check out reliable third-party reviews by our many satisfied users to see what FocusMe can do for you. If you’re ready to get serious about making your tech work for you rather than against you, simply click the big shiny button below and we’ll guide you every step of the way!