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Proven Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder
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Proven Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder

by programmerSeptember 25, 2015

If you work hard, you’ll succeed – otherwise you’ll end up like that person over there (cue indiscreet pointing at any low-skilled worker)! It’s a familiar phrase growing up Malaysian, or Asian for that matter.

However, truthfully, working hard isn’t enough. You need to work smart. In fact, working smart is probably more important than working hard. Working hard at something that is not going to help you or is counter-productive to your aim is a recipe for failure. So, what does working smart actually entail?

Basically, you cut out everything that wastes your time. Yes, it’s that simple…in theory. The changes to your habits might take a while to sink in.

Perfectionism is Not Key

The biggest time waster you’re going to have to deal with is perfectionism. Some people are embarrassed to admit it and others might actually take pride in it, but being a perfectionist isn’t all that great. Being a perfectionist translates to never being pleased with your own work or the work of others and obsessively redoing it. You’ll never be satisfied!

You can start working smarter by realising that nothing is perfect. Complete your tasks carefully and mindfully. This way, once you have completed you’re project and reviewed it a few times, you should be able to tell yourself, forcefully if necessary, that the task is completed even if it’s not perfect, then tackle the next one.

Remember the 80/20 Rule

Another thing you need to keep in mind when attempting to work smarter is to do the things that require you to expand the least effort but get you the most results. This is the 80/20 rule: 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.

So when you have many different possible paths to take that can get you the same end results, take a little time to study them to determine which will be the most beneficial to you. That little bit of extra time used will save you much more time and energy in the future.

You could automate your most frequently used codes, outsource your job requirements, or tackle the same things in one go, for example.

Go for the Task that Yields the Most Rewards First

To work smart you should not be spending so much time on tasks that aren’t very rewarding. This doesn’t mean that you should abandon these tasks, since they might be pesky but necessary.

However, if possible, you want to focus more on the higher impact tasks first and keep the lower impact tasks for later. Focus on the more rewarding and significant tasks at the beginning of your project.

Once you’ve gotten your important presentation ready for the big day, maybe you could go for your CSR side-project next?

Get Others to Do It

Delegating is something that people who work smart know how to do. Sometimes it might be hard to let go. A lot of people want to be in complete control of all aspects of their projects, resulting in higher quality satisfaction, yes, but more waste of time.

Don’t waste time on the lower-impact tasks if you can hire someone to take care of these things and focus on the big tasks. It’s why bosses have managers, who have supervisors, who have workers, after all!

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

You can work smarter if you learn from people who have already found viable solutions for the same problems you are currently facing. Instead of wasting your time with trial and error, get help from experienced people.

If you don’t want to pay for a course or a book, there’s a world of information online. Analyse how Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg spend their time and learn how they do it, then implement it.


Working smart will free up time for you to unwind and relax after having done the same amount of work you’d have done working hard, in less time. Apply these tips to everything you do, not just your work, and get more out your limited 24 hours!

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