'Work Smarter Not Harder' is More than a Platitude


We've all heard the expression that we need to work smarter, not harder. But what does that really mean? Most people believe it describes a focus on prioritising tasks, reducing wasted steps, and delegating responsibility. That generally holds true, but the overwhelming task list of today's worker means that new solutions might be needed. "Work Smarter Not Harder" is more than a platitude!

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Technology has brought so many different tasks to the workplace that it's nearly impossible to keep up. Fortunately, technology may also be the solution to this problem.

It's the nature of technology simultaneously adding to and subtracting from your workload that is at the heart of finding the right tools for your business. You should look at technology that supports increased productivity through workflows that help automate routine tasks, saving time and allowing you to focus on the tasks that really matter.

Communication Tools

Keeping your head above water in communication is just one of the things that many entrepreneurs struggle to do. People who are exploring opportunities to build their own business or take on a franchise need to know that there will be an overwhelming load of information to process throughout the day.

Then if you have any kind of remote or home based team working with you you need tools to be able to communicate well and easily. Tools like Slack can help with this

Recommended reading: 5 Essential Tools for Successfully Managing a Remote Team

Attention Spans Are Shrinking

It's difficult to create and sustain momentum on a task with a nonstop parade of interruptions. When you are continuously dealing with a call, then a text, then a social media notification, then an email, you lose the focus needed to put in continuous time on a single task. And it's tough to ignore them when all you can think about is that long strip of tiny icons at the top of your phone.

Einstein, Edison, and the Curies were successful because they were able to dedicate long hours to their tasks. They didn't have a disruptive device nearby to undermine their focus.

Whatever successes you have had in life or business, you have undoubtedly had long periods of nonstop work where you made them happen. Yes, an occasional break is critical to sustaining your focus, but it should come on your schedule, not your phone's.

Managing some of these disruptions will drastically reduce the loss of focus you experience while working.

Recommended reading: Using New Technology to Grow Your Business

Mobility Creates Inability

In the earliest days of email, you could spend part of your day on the go, then return to the office to sort through phone messages and emails. Now you can't escape them; if you have signal, those emails come right to your phone and those calls ring incessantly.

What has happened is that people can no longer compartmentalise their day. You can't head out the door to a meeting with a client and give your undivided attention because beeping and pinging on your hip or in your briefcase is another client who also wants your undivided attention.

There's no such thing as "checking email" anymore; it checks you with a ringtone as soon as a message arrives.

Solutions include hiving off email time again on your daily schedule - e.g. first thing in the morning, then lunch then later in the day. Switch your phone to airplane mode when you need to have deep time. 

Logistical Hassles

One of the more complex things that technology can do is to manage meetings with other employees. With people going so many different directions, it's very difficult to coordinate schedules and get 100% of any given group in the same place at the same time. You know, the "I can't on the 8th, what about the 9th?" scenario. Why not use tools like Doodle to coordinate the best meeting time?

Routine tasks can also be automated. Time sheets, absence requests, and so forth are painstaking minutiae that can be particularly disruptive due to their short time frame and constant presence. Using software that can manage those tasks is a big time saver.

Being efficient in the workplace means being able to prioritise things. But with the advent of so many technologies and applications that clutter our daily routines, even the low priorities are gobbling up too many hours.

While the answer to technology isn't always more technology, it can certainly help you wade through the swamp of information overload, communication overload and task overload. Look for ways to use technology in a smart way and change your own behaviour as required to make sure you aren't always on call 24/7.

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