Learning how to work smarter can save you time, money and energy in the long run when you compare it to working harder. We've been taught from a young age that if we work hard we can accomplish almost anything. It's true. The hardest workers among us tend to be more successful than the lazy types. If you learn how to make your time more valuable and productive, however, you can put in less time and be more productive than the hard working types ever could be.
The first step to learn how to work smarter is to think about the conditions you tend to work the most effectively in. As you're reading this, you've probably been through a lot of different working conditions. You've had to do work early in the morning and you've been forced to pull an all nighter. You've done work when you're pumped up with caffeine and you've done work after eating a big, healthy salad. No matter what emotional turmoil you've endured, you've often had to complete work during or after it. Keeping all these factors in mind, here's what I've learned about myself. I work best early in the morning before anybody gets up to distract me. I need at least seven hours of sleep to function most effectively and caffeine tends to make me to jittery to concentrate after the first 30 minutes. I like working in a room with a closed door or in a coffee shop with a quiet independent music buzz in the background. Learn your own working preferences and replicate them every day.
The next step is to figure out what aspects of your work are wasting your time. This might be busy work that you're forced to do each day by your job. It might be having to do a certain amount of chores each day. It may be an interruption that breaks up your flow. Figure out how to force all of these time wasters into one concentrated period of completion. If I have a freelance writing gig and I have to submit some articles to a website, I may write all of the articles first so that I don't have to keep going back to my e-mail, sending one and then coming back to writing. If it's chores I have to do, I'll take a half hour and blow through all of them during a break so they don't weigh on me the rest of my day. If the first step is finding your ideal working conditions, this step is knocking out all the obstacles in your way keeping you from your attempt to work smarter.
Keeping yourself motivated is the final and toughest step in your desire to work smarter. There are so many ways to become de-motivated: negative attitude, interruptions, the multitude of online entertainment choices, etc. Everyone has a different chord to strike when it comes to motivation. I love listening to motivational audio tracks by speakers like Earl Nightingale. Some might be more swayed by an energetic song that's usually used during an aerobic workout. Others might require a calm burst of yoga or meditation. You'll do well for yourself if you accomplish the first two "how to work smarter" steps, but if you can learn how to infuse motivation into your day, you will work smarter and more effectively for the rest of your life.