Working smart and not hard is a common phrase that was always shared by our boss or colleagues at the office. The idea of working smart is different for every individual depending on their perspective. There is a multitude of methods that anyone can apply to save time and omit banality from any tasks at work. The basic principle of working smart is essentially determining what are your key strengths and building a framework around it. This is to complete objectives in the fastest and most efficient way.

When distractions become overwhelming, our productivity will be affected and we won’t be able to get any task completed on time.

Avoid Distractions

Even the slightest interruptions will put us off balance. Distractions are inevitable no matter how you walk around it. Regardless, not all distractions are inherently bad, causing negative outcomes. Take for instance, we all need a quick break in between long hours of work instead of working from A to Z. When distractions start to occur more frequently, it will eventually be a problem.

The frequency and nature of the distractions vary depending on the office culture. External distractions can range from ongoing phone calls in an open workplace to discussions among your colleagues. Every individual possesses a unique working style, some of us are prone to getting distracted while there are those who are less susceptible to the disruption. It is best to tone down the external noises by reaching out to the source of distraction. This will aid to minimise the problem in a jiffy. Mutual respect amongst each other is also essential.

Technology such as social media sites, personal emails, web browsing are some the many factors which can disrupt your productivity. Unless it’s urgent matters which require your attention, avoid checking through your personal emails or text messages during work hours. Refrain from doing non-work related activities such as chatting with your colleagues unless it is before or after work; or preferably during lunch break.

Build a Routined Habit

If you want to work smart, you need to force yourself to work on a routine as a habit. Prioritise your main tasks at hand instead of focusing on minor tasks. Focus on the big picture. Refrain from multitasking or putting up overwhelming and unrealistic to-do-lists unless it is a profession that requires you to handle multiple task simultaneously. Schedule your appointments, meetings, and errands back-to-back so you build productivity. Never forget to include your lunch hours into the routine as well so that you can estimate how much time you need to spend on a single task. Take for instance, if you want to arrange for a team meeting, make sure it starts and ends on time.

Adding a new habit into your set routine is not easy, but identifying a set of habits you need to prioritise will make a huge difference. For example, when brainstorming for ideas,  spend your time focusing on impactful ideas. Once you have shortlisted your strongest ideas, reward yourself with a short window to rest your mind before moving on to the next task.


Related: Master Productivity like a Pro


Learn to Delegate

Doing everything independently is not always smart. Share the workload and delegate amongst your colleagues. Leave perfectionism out the door and collaborate with others. The smart way of working is to learn and be inspired by others. You will understand better and apply your knowledge through learning, hence working faster as a team. Be fair with the amount of work you have in hand and remember to delegate responsibly. Studies have shown that co-workers get inspired and motivated by shared knowledge at the office. Value your time at work and plan ahead when you have a big goal to achieve for the organisation. Giving yourself buffer time will make things less strenuous to perform professionally. In a nutshell, manage expectations between your bosses, team and your own performance. Proper planning will make your workflow more satisfactory.

Learn to Say No

There is nothing wrong with declining job tasks; especially if it is not under your job description. With that said, remember to decline with humility and assertiveness  Explain that you prefer to focus more on your specific set of tasks instead of taking up something you are unfamiliar with. Whilst declining the tasks, why not reach out to your peers or your colleagues who are better versed in handling it? Show that you are not running away from responsibility but understand the strengths of others. It’s a good idea to be honest about your capabilities instead of straining yourself into doing something that does not fit or interest you.

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