What Does It Mean to Work Smarter, not Harder?

In such a competitive world, working efficiently allows you to find ways to optimize your time and resources for better results.
What Does It Mean to Work Smarter, not Harder?

Last update: 20 November, 2023

Many people think that demonstrating maximum productivity at all times is the only way to be a valuable employee. In the traditional business world, we can often find ourselves doing things just to show that we’re productive. However, learning to work smarter and leverage resources doesn’t imply less dedication.

As the years go by and technology advances, many jobs that used to require great physical and intellectual effort can now be automated with the help of digital tools. This has led to a greater emphasis on using the advances of modernity to ensure that tasks are performed in the best possible way, but without the difficulty they used to demand. 

Working smarter is a turn toward efficiency

“Work smarter, not harder” is a saying that implies that hard work can be avoided with smart planning, delegation, and organization. This thought has taken on quite a few connotations in recent times, becoming truer than ever with the plethora of tools and services now available to support workers in almost any task.

From algorithmic AI software that enables fast and efficient information gathering, to the rise of video calls and remote work assistants, employees have reached the point where many of their most time-consuming tasks can now be delegated.

Data systems and learning algorithms have been brought to the forefront, making it possible to work smarter and more efficiently. This, in turn, ensures that the time spent on work is reduced, while the quality of production can remain the same or increase depending on the circumstances.

What changes does working smarter bring today?

A person working on a laptop computer, with the image of a robot hand reaching out from the screen.
In the business world, remote work has become the new norm.

Technological advances have brought great benefits by automating processes and connecting people. For example, more and more companies are giving their employees permission to work from home if their jobs allow it. This means they can now save hours in traffic and have many more options in the job market.

For its part, while according to Education Data Initiative data, college enrollments have fallen since the start of the pandemic, the ease of access to accelerated online BSN programs and other remote learning possibilities has made the prospect of higher education cheaper and more realistic for many aspiring academics.

In this way, the ability to receive classes from anywhere via videoconferencing has ensured that students who don’t have the desire or ability to travel to school can receive a good experience and training through these platforms.

What can be done to work smarter?

In reality, this depends on the type of job and field in which you work. However, the following general changes in perspective can help you carry out smarter, more effective work and reduce the need for long, stressful hours.

 1. Establish a routine

For people who work in stressful fields or those who are prone to taking on large projects, establishing a daily routine is essential. This will allow you to better understand your limitations, while ensuring you have a clearer vision of what you have to do from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed.

According to a study published in the Journal of Global Health , generalized routines can help people reduce the negative impact of stress on daily life and improve their mental health. In addition, having a set routine and schedule can be helpful in supporting people with anxiety and mood disorders.

2. Consider seeking support

Depending on the circumstances, this could be as simple as asking for help with overwhelming tasks or as complicated as outsourcing external support. Remember that not all work has to be done by one person, even if they’re a specialist in their field.

Smaller tasks, such as data acquisition, programming, and spreadsheet management, can be taken over by a third party. So, if you deem it necessary, don’t drown yourself in obligations. Rather, you’re better off seeking support from your team to delegate some tasks.

Research published in the academic journal Purposes and Representations suggested that when a professional performs multiple activities that demand their full attention, this can trigger Burnout syndrome and impair their self-sufficiency, mental health, and job performance.

You might be interested in: Five Signs of Burnout at Work

3. Get the most out of meetings

A woman connecting to a virtual work meeting on her laptop.
When working from home, every space with your work team should be used to express your proposals and concerns.

For companies that have weekly meetings, it can be easy for them to become a mere formality. However, in the world of remote work, any time you spend with your team can be a fantastic time to organize tasks and get a sense of their feasibility. So, take advantage of every virtual or physical meeting to express your ideas.

4. Practice your communication skills

We don’t often talk about how important communication is when it comes to delegating within teams. If you’re someone who isn’t careful with your words, it’s easy for people to get the wrong idea of what you expect from them. When a project ends up failing to achieve its vision due to a lack of clarity, it’s hard to blame anyone but yourself.

Because of this, and many other reasons, working on your communication skills is very important in business. Be sure to be clear and detailed in your instructions, perhaps beyond what you may consider necessary, as someone who already knows the information you’re trying to convey.

Leveraging technology to work smarter

As time goes on and standards change, it’s unclear what advances will help people speed up manual tasks in the future. However, whatever they are, if applied responsibly, they’ll have a positive impact on the way we live our lives in the working world.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.