It’s easy to say work smarter not harder. But how do you actually do this?
What does it even mean?
A lot of people struggle with deciding how to invest their time and effort.
I've met people who wake up at 5 a.m and work for 12 hours every day. Yet, they’re deeply unhappy and underpaid.
It's not about working harder than everyone else.
It's about knowing where to channel your energy.
People have the tendency to believe that hard work always pays off. Those people get a rude awakening.
This blogpost is dedicated to you, the hard worker. I say, start to work smarter not harder – brownie points if you work smarter and harder, though.
With that said, here are 8 proven hacks you can use to take advantage of your wits, maximize your results, and to work smarter not harder.
Hack #1: Choose the three most important tasks of the day
For years, I thought sticking to a schedule, keeping my desk uncluttered, practicing meditation, reading a lot, taking cold showers, were productive tasks.
Doing these tasks every day made me feel productive, but looking back, it was a dopamine rush deluding me.
I was wrong about the importance of these activities.
If your actions aren't paving the way to your goals, you're not productive.
This doesn't mean meditation is useless. Context matters here too.
If your goal is to beat stress and anxiety, meditation will help. But it won’t do all the work for you.
What I'm saying is, choose the activities that have the highest ROI (Return On Investment). These will be the most important tasks of the day. Make sure you choose tasks that have the biggest impact on your performance and potential outcomes.
I cannot overstate the usefulness of deciding on your most important tasks.
Let’s call these tasks your MITs (most important tasks).
Here's how this works.
- Choose 3 tasks that you must complete every single day.
- Work every day on completing them – no excuses, just do it!
Here are some rules for setting better MITs.
Rules for better MITs
- They must be specific.
- Your MITs must be small in scope (easy to complete every day)
- They must be repeatable – I mean, they need to be performed every day, right?
You can apply this to ANY goal that you have.
For example, let’s say you want to get 5 new clients this month.
Your 3 daily MITs could be:
- Post your offer 5 times on social media
- Send 30 direct messages to people on social media pitching your services
- Send 20 emails pitching your services
As you can see, these tasks are specific (send 20 emails), small in scope (you can actually send 20 emails), and they can be repeated (you can send 20 emails every day).
So, think of your goals and decide the MITs that could lead you to achieve them faster.
If your MITs aren’t aligned with your goals, you're wasting your time. Work smarter not harder!
Hack #2: Complete the hard tasks first
Now you have your 3 most important tasks selected, make sure to complete the hardest one first.
Try it out and see how you feel after.
Hack #3: Do one thing at the time – don’t half-ass it.
You are being bombarded thousands of times a day with distractions. From coworkers telling you jokes, advertising being blasted into your eyeballs and eardrums, to the daily notifications your phone chirps at you. Everything is trying to break your focus.
Constant interruption is your productivity’s worst enemy.
Be it having tons of Chrome tabs open or listening to music while you work. Or maybe you reach for your phone every 5 minutes because you want to see the professional offendatrons meltdown over Trump's latest tweet…
When you decide to work on something, stick to it.
Focus on it until you're done.
Forget about music, Twitter, social media, coworkers, and everything else.
Whatever you have pending in the background, push it out of mind as much as you can.
To work smarter not harder, you need to be mindful of what you're doing.
If you have trouble with being mindful or focusing on one task, begin with small increments of time.
A simple way to get started is by slapping 5 minutes on your smartphone stopwatch.
Focus on the task for the full 5 minutes.
Once the alarm rings, stop working. Or keep going if you feel like it.
I bet you can do 6 minutes next time. Then 6 becomes 7. And 7 becomes 8. And so on. How many minutes can you put on the timer?
The hardest part will always be starting out.
Once you start, your brain will crave completing the task.
Hack #4: Write down a “Not To-do” list
Having simple guidelines for living your life will give you clarity of thought and save you from a lot of mental distress.
People rarely think about the things they need to stop doing.
This is where your not-to-do list chimes in.
Your Not-to-do list is composed of actions that you must actively reject to become a productive champion.
Your Not-to-do list leverages the power of the most powerful word in the world.
The word NO.
Maybe you check your cellphone all the time. Add this action to your Not-to-do list.
Maybe you discover yourself opening social media while working. Add this activity to your Not-to-do list.
Maybe it's overthinking a decision you need to make. Do you waste time by organizing your desk as soon as it becomes slightly disorganized? Yes? Then… add this to your Not-to-do list.
Think of your Not-to-do list as a set of simple RULES for living your life. Knowing which actions you must actively avoid will help you focus on the actions you must prioritize in order to conquer your goals.
What Should You Add To Your Not-to-do List?
- Activities that continually break your focus into pieces
- Actions that reduce the quality of your work
- Decisions that make you feel unproductive and unworthy of your successes
- Ideas and thoughts that take up your precious mental bandwidth
- Activities you can delegate
- Ideas, choices, and rules you won’t compromise
- Stuff that doesn’t lead to your current goals
- Bear in mind that these rules are not set in stone.
If you’re struggling to think of what you can add to your Not-to-do list, here's a list of things that I have inside my list:
- Avoid overcomplicating and overthinking
- Don’t let things I cannot control take command of my actions and thoughts
- Do not work with lazy people.
- Never work with low paying clients (ex: I don’t work in projects that make me less than $X)
- Never reply to emails and direct messages when I'm angry.
- Avoid overspending money.
- Never reply back to people who talk to me in an angry tone.
- Don't reply to haters online.
- Never do free consultations or free work.
Avoiding some of these actions will be a challenge, and that’s ok. With time you’ll get used to it and your productivity will increase!
If you want to learn more about productivity, take a look at my Productivity Mastery Course.
Hack #5: Have a Done List
Have you ever felt like you did nothing by the time you go to sleep?
I sure have.
For a long time, I had the curious feeling that I wasn’t getting enough work done. I continually found myself thinking about all the things I did during the day, but it never was enough to put my mind at ease.
I needed to change! So I started listing the things I had accomplished during the day. I found it soothing to make this list and helped me get a better night's sleep.
So, here’s how this works.
Instead of striking out your to-dos, add the completed task to your Done list.
Imagine watching this list getting swollen with all the things you’ve done.
This simple hack will increase your sense of accomplishment tenfold.
Hack #6: Automate the monotonous tasks
I have a simple process when it comes to writing articles.
Every article I write has a separate folder in my Google drive. This folder contains the google Doc, the photoshop file for the cover, the images folder, and other stuff.
Before I automated part of the process, I had to manually copy-paste the folder, rename the files, and whatnot.
Then, I discovered I can automate this process by integrating Asana (my go-to project managing app) and Zapier.
Zapier connects different apps with each other without coding.
I won’t be explaining my workflow in writing, because doing so would add at least 2000 words to this article. So here’s a video of what I can do with Zapier, Google Drive, and Asana.
Hack #7: Practice mindfulness
Everything needs to be delivered yesterday. And there seems to never be time to pay attention to one thing at a time.
We’re constantly jumping between Chrome tabs, scrolling down on Twitter, and double-tapping photos on Instagram. We mindlessly commute from home to work and from work to home. We’re like full-sized slot car racers going around the track.
We avoid being present when we actively engage in multitasking.
Then, by the end of the day, we feel unproductive and braindead.
A study published by Rachel F. Adler on July 2015, suggests that “when the primary task was considered difficult, subjects forced to multitask had significantly lower performance compared with not only the subjects who did not multitask but also the subjects who were able to multitask at their discretion. Conversely, when the primary task was considered easy, subjects forced to multitask had significantly higher performance than both the subjects who did not multitask[…]1”
While multitasking isn’t bad for all occasions, if what you’re doing is important, it’s best you focus solely on this subject.
Hack #8: Do it badly on the first try
Let me use my article writing process as an example once more.
My first draft is always awful. It’s filled with typos, inconsistencies, bad grammar, and bad use of the English language (have I told you English is not my first language?).
It’s something I’d be embarrassed to show you.
But, after a couple of revisions, spelling checking, and adjustments it becomes something I’d proudly post on any website.
The first try will always be awful. And that’s a good thing.
After each iteration, your work can only get better.
In fact, I guarantee it can only get better.
Put your ego on check. Do it badly at first, and revise, revise, revise until you’re comfortable with the end result.
Mastering self-discipline and productivity to work smarter not harder!
In the years I've spent developing my business and elevating my lifestyle, I've learned that being self-discipline is what sets high-performers apart from the rest. PERIOD.
Success isn't about having flashy tactics to get things done.
Success is a side-effect of being self-disciplined – especially when you don’t feel like it.
While self-discipline can help you make more money, manifest your dreams faster, keep your momentum, and consistently produce value to everyone around you, you might find yourself tired of consistently failing to follow through your tasks and goals.
After all, you know you can have the most amazing life in the world, but if you're lacking the self-discipline to get things done, your life will stay the same.
So… if you want to discover how to work smarter not harder:
- The truth about mindset and how to use it to create value like crazy
- The exact steps to achieve massive focus used by top athletes, mentalists, and winners.
- The 4 pillars of your personal productivity system that unlocks your desires to get things done.
- A simple 3 step formula for managing your tasks like a pro that will help you organize your days with ease to work smarter not harder.
- How to actually lessen your procrastination urges so you can focus on your goals and self-development.
- Top personality traits of successful people you can copy and easily emulate.
- The best free and paid apps to bring order into chaos.
- The simplest framework to keep your digital life in order.
- Little-known hacks to promote godlike focus.
- The Goal Setting Matrix that will skyrocket your chances of succeeding.