4 Tips for Working Smarter Not Harder

Simple ideas to put minutes back into your day

Are you constantly in battle with the clock? Do you find yourself wishing you could add more minutes or hours to your day? You’re not alone! But life doesn’t have to be this way. Don’t let the stress of having too much to do in too little time wear you down. A wonderful solution to this problem is getting a grip on your time-management skills. True, it’s easier said than done, but once you learn to manage your hours more efficiently, things will begin to fall into place. When you fine-tune your time-management skills, you’ll have extra time for important things and free time for things you want to do. You’ll be more relaxed, and not always on the edge of your seat, pressed for time. Though we can’t change the number of hours in the day, slight adjustments within your schedule can help you find the harmonic balance that could change your way of life forever.

1. Plan ahead

Make a to-do list every night with all the unfinished work you have to do. Look over the list and prioritize and guesstimate how much time you need to finish each activity. Keep track of your list in an organizer like Ominder and stick to it as best as you can the following day. Another beneficial habit to keep is getting everything ready for the next day the night before. Lay out your clothes and pack up anything that leaves the house with you so you can just grab it and go. You should also plan in advance what you’ll be having for breakfast and prepare as much as possible ahead of time. Do the same for lunch and dinner and make sure you have all the ingredients you need. It’s easier to make a quick stop at the store on your way home from work than needing to go back out later while you’re in the middle of making dinner because you realize you’ve forgotten an important ingredient.

2. Prioritize

First things first, what’s most important? Learn to plan out your daily routines by working from most important to least important activities. Figure out what needs to be done first and get started on it right away. Organize between what’s truly urgent and what’s just important. If everything seems urgent, a good rule of thumb is to start first with the one that will take the most effort to complete. However, if you’re the type who gets a huge kick from checking items off a to-do list, do a couple of the less time intense projects first so you can get that much needed motivational boost. Finally, don’t waste time trying to do everything perfectly when there are other pressing details to tend to; just get it done. That’s not to say you should rush and do a sloppy job, but there’s no need to dwell on every little detail or overanalyze every single issue. Start training yourself now to recognize when good enough is good enough.

3. Delegate

Expect and demand help from others. Don’t fall for the old “if you want it done right do it yourself” mentality. It might be hard at first to ask others for help or dole out chores, but in the end it will add hours to your day and also gives others around you the opportunity to pitch in and make a difference. At work, look for someone who you are sure can do the job just as well as you can. Only delegate tasks you truly don’t have time for. Don’t ask for help just because you don’t feel like doing the job. Delegate the smaller tasks that free up your time allowing you more time to take care of issues that are most urgent. At home, it’s a little easier to delegate because if something isn’t done just so, no one’s job is on the line. Ask your significant other or roommate to help with some of the usual chores if they aren’t doing so already. Children can also help out a great deal and it teaches them responsibility. Things might not get done exactly the way you would have done them, but unless it causes imminent danger or is a health hazard, leave well enough alone and enjoy the free time it creates.

4. Organize as You Go

Were you that messy kid who left the caps off markers, rarely put away their clean laundry and missed turning in homework because you never put it back where it belonged? Do you still struggle with all the loose ends slowing you down at the close of the day? You’re not alone! Lots of other people are just like you in that they need a little help in the organization department. The good news is, if you start practicing doing everything in an organized fashion throughout the day, you won’t have that horrible build-up of tasks to complete at the end of the day. The key is to not let anything get too huge or overwhelming. Whether it’s paperwork or laundry, sort through it, separate into piles and deal with it. The more you get into the habit of cleaning and organizing as you go along, the more free time you’ll create.

As you can see, making simple changes can significantly increase your productivity and make life just a little easier. Follow these tips and say goodbye to that hectic, constantly on-the-go but getting nowhere fast lifestyle. Remember to plan ahead, prioritize, break up tasks and delegate to others, and clean and organize throughout the day so that nothing becomes overwhelming. Following these few simple steps can lead to a little more time in your day and add a little more joy to your life.