5 Ways To Work Smarter, Not Harder


Did you know that an individual typically works overtime in a year equating to not being paid until 9 March? That’s 68 days of ‘free’ work we give our employers because overtime is unpaid.

The 2017 Totally Money overtime survey also points out that 60% of people don’t feel that they have a good work/life balance.

For me, working from home for a portion of the week has given me back a balance that I didn’t have when I was in the office everyday. I have a home office in the garden, so it’s still a working environment away from the kids and the washing machine, but without the grind of the commute and having the option to wear jeans I’m a lot happier. And more productive. I get at least as much done as I would do in the office and normally more.

But working smarter and not harder isn’t just about having some time to work from home.

As project managers, we are generally quite a well organised bunch, and I didn’t think I’d learn a lot at an event I attended a while back, entitled ‘working smarter, not harder’. But I did take away some interesting figures, including info about the amount of unpaid overtime we’re all doing. Here are some other stats:

  • 78% of women say they work for companies with flexible working policies, but better technology would make it easier to balance work and life
  • 55% said their work/life balance was just in control, but they wanted more ‘life’
  • 45% said their work/life balances were out of kilter, and actually way past the point of being in balance.

These figures came from a survey of the women in the room, which we completed before we arrived.

So where can you start when you want to work smarter? Here are 5 ways that you can flex how you work to be more productive and fit your lifestyle more effectively.

1. Know Your Strengths

Don’t be an all-rounder. It’s a waste of valuable time to do things when someone else can do them for you, better than you. Don’t be threatened by surrounding yourself with good people and having a great team. They are there to support you and make you all look good.

2. Set Clear Boundaries About the Hours You Work

It’s fine to work at the evenings and weekends if it gives you time in the week to do what you want. Be flexible, but take the time back. This also sets a good example to the team.

I am trying really hard to do this, but believe me, I am a work in progress.

3. Set Clear Boundaries About How People Contact You

If people can reach you by IM, mobile phone, desk phone, BlackBerry, home phone, email and so on it makes life much more stressful. Tell people how you can be contacted and stick to it. You could  have a “drop everything” list of people who have all your contact details. These people would be your child’s school, your partner, your director: the important people in your life whom you would make an exception for because you know they wouldn’t call you up unless it was critical. Everyone else can get in touch on your convenience.

4. Hide Away and Catch Up

I’m doing this right now! I have booked into a hotel for the weekend to write my next book and I’m just doing a few bits of blogging to give my mind a break.

Book time in your diary to work at home or at a different office. You’ll still be available by phone but you’ll be more productive as people won’t be constantly passing by your desk and interrupting. This isn’t a strategy you can use every day but helps me massively to know that I have quarterly catch up days already planned in my diary.

5. Learn To Use Your Technology

And ensure you drive it, not the other way round. Because not knowing how tools work is such a time waster and it increases my stress levels hugely.

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