A woman sitting at her computer while a co-worker tells her a secret whispering in her ear.
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The secret to working smarter, not harder

19 Jul 2023

There are a lot of ‘work smarter, not harder’ books out there, but why would you read an entire book when you can read an article instead?

The above may be what meme fans would refer to as a ‘galaxy brain’ take. Sincere apologies, we won’t mention memes again. But, seriously, you should start as you mean to go on when it comes to embracing productivity. Unless you’re a neuroscientist studying productivity, maybe your time would be better spent putting your energy into, well, getting things done.

That doesn’t mean skimming all the workplace life hacks you get your hands on. Everyone has different ways of focusing, so your colleagues’ productivity tips may not help you. Working smart is all about lateral thinking so you don’t waste time or get bogged down in minor details. Before we go any further, working smart does not equal doing no work or being sloppy. Quite the opposite, in fact.

It means maximising your time and energy so you don’t end up being completely burned out or unable to enjoy your work. Here are a few tips for those of you who want to work ‘smart’.

Use tech tools

There are so many great tools out there that can help you streamline your day-to-day tasks, from whiteboarding ideas to scheduling emails. Pretty much any workplace automation tool such as Dropbox, Trello or Asana – to name a few – can cut out hours of fiddling with papers or diving into filing cabinets.

A lot of them do similar things, so pick one or two and familiarise yourself with all their features. We have written guides on how to get the best out of Trello previously if you’d like to try it out.

Generative AI is also a huge boon for anyone wanting to incorporate smart working tech into their routines. From Microsoft’s Copilot tool to ChatGPT and its ever-increasing group of competitors, the sky is the limit when it comes to AI for work it seems.

Embrace biohacking, within reason

When we recommend biohacking we don’t mean copying Californian entrepreneur Bryan Johnson and the rather extreme regime he is following for anti-ageing. That’s biohacking gone bonkers. For an ordinary person, biohacking means taking ownership of your health and wellbeing and putting in place good habits.

Athletes biohack, for example, when they train for sporting events. Biohacking for work is obviously going to be different from what, say, a sprinter does, but it follows the same principle. If you’re worried about a sedentary lifestyle, you can invest in a smartwatch to monitor your steps and activity everyday. That’s a biohacking trend that has become quite popular in recent years.

You don’t need to pay as much attention as an athlete does to what you eat or how often you train, but you do need to schedule regular mealtimes and break times so you can focus on your job. Forget working through lunch hunched over your desk with a Diet Coke and go for lots of water and a healthy meal with good-quality protein and carbohydrates to keep you sated. A lot of this stuff is common sense that nutritionists and physios have been saying for years.

Ask around

There is bound to be somebody who has a similar way of working to you. Why not ask them for advice? If you’re a night owl, ask another successful night owl you know how they manage to keep their mornings on track.

And if you don’t know anyone who could advise you, skim this list of 10 productivity tips from successful people. They may inspire you.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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