Updated: Aug 10
Do you feel like you’re working hard everyday and just never seem to get much done…
You may be spending too much of your time on low-outcome tasks.
Being more effective with your time can help you lessen your stress and get more done with the same amount of hours in the day!
Here are simple tips to work smarter, so you have more time to do the things you love with the people you love.
Use habits and routines to reduce decision-making.
Making tiny decisions all day long puts a huge strain on our willpower, energy, and productivity. Decisions like when to take a break, which project to work on next, or what to have for lunch add up over time and take a lot of our mental resources.
One of the best ways to work smarter is to lessen the number of small decisions you have to make throughout the day, freeing up your mental energy for more meaningful tasks and creative thinking.
You can cut out a lot of small decisions by forming habits and setting up routines for yourself. When you build a habit of meal prepping every week, you don’t have to spend as much time thinking about what to eat for each individual meal. When you form a routine of taking breaks, working out, or doing yoga at the same times each day, you don’t have to spend mental resources deciding when to do these things.
Group tasks, meetings, and activities into batches.
Switching between different types of tasks requires a lot of mental processing. Every time we switch gears, we have to spend extra time adjusting to a new environment, activity, or way of thinking.
To work smarter, try planning to do similar types of work in the same time block. For instance, you may arrange all of your Zoom calls on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
Create a block of time for checking your email and responding to messages via Slack, text, or other collaboration platforms — all these activities require you to tap into the same part of your brain.
Kick your habit of multitasking to the curb.
The single best thing you can do to work smarter is to stop trying to multitask. Research has proven that our brains physically cannot think about multiple things at the same time. That means when you think you’re multitasking, your brain is really just jumping between two tasks quickly and frequently.
This mental jumping back and forth leaves you less productive in both tasks than you would be if you focused on them one at a time, because your attention is constantly changing.
Slow down and take it one task at a time. You will likely find that when you focus on only one activity, you can actually accomplish more in less time, and you’ll be checking it off and moving on to the next task sooner than you think.
Celebrate what you accomplish each and every day!
A large part of being productive is keeping up the emotional and mental motivation to continue working on your goals. But it’s easy to lose motivation and steam throughout the day, when you feel like you’ve been working hard and making no progress.
To keep up your motivation, highlight your daily wins. Create a habit of checking in with yourself during the work day, to review what you’ve accomplished. Don’t get stuck on the amount of time you spent on any one task — note the actual results of your efforts. You may have spent hours putting together a single report, but when you break it down, you realize you’ve completed 10 pages of analysis, collected 14 data sets, and created 12 graphs showing valuable insights.
Celebrating your accomplishments is an important habit for productive people. It helps you to see the impact of your time, recognize the outcomes of all your hard work, and fuels your motivation to keep going!
About the Author
Alexa Hanshaw is a health and stress management coach who helps women be the CEO of their stress. She empowers her clients to push past the confusion of the health and wellness industry to create lifestyle habits that bring them energy and work with their bodies instead of against it.
Join her free Facebook group, Be the CEO of Your Stress and follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube for quick, easy & healthy tips on stress, health, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and how to stay mindful!