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Working smarter (not harder) could mean the difference between a so-so project and a successful one–this article will explore five tips for working smarter, not necessarily harder. The phrase, “work smarter, not harder” seems like an obvious piece of work advice. Who wouldn’t want to use their brains to deliver increased success along with more free time, it sounds so simple. But what does working smarter actually mean?

Working smarter can be an elusive ideal but in general it should focus on making the best use of the resources around you, such as leveraging contacts and expertise, setting smart goals for yourself and your team as well as delegating to those with greater skills in a field. In this way you can concentrate on making the most of your own greatest talents, rather than struggling through work you have little idea about.

To get a better idea of what we mean here are some tips on how you can start working smarter.

  1. Prioritize your schedule

Not all tasks are created equally. Through setting smart goals, all of the elements on your to-do list may have to be done at some stage, some are more important than others. As we do not maintain the same energy or concentration levels throughout the day, it makes sense to work on the most important tasks at periods of high-focus such as half an hour after arriving or just after lunch. Correspondingly, activities which can be done when more switched off, such as checking or replying to emails can be left for periods of low energy, such as just before lunch or at the end of the day.

  1. Take advantage of automation

With the rapid improvements in software and technologies it is possible to make a huge amount of savings in both time and effort by automating many of your processes. For example, if you are still running projects via spreadsheet, you can instead automatically update project progress and provide full visibility to all your stakeholders by using project management software.

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  1. Don’t try and multi-task

Though you might feel like you are getting a lot done at the same time, the unfortunate truth is that multi-tasking actually lowers the quality of your work and slows down the completion of all the different strands. By focusing on only one task at a time you will be bringing the full focus of your brain to bear on it and thus be able to complete all your tasks, in order, quicker.

  1. Delegate to those who know better

Nobody can be an expert at everything, that’s why most modern project work takes place in teams. By being aware of and comfortable in admitting to your weaknesses you can avoid the egotistical pitfall of wasting time trying to do something that someone else might be able to do a lot better and quicker.

  1. Communicate

It’s easy to get lost in one’s own world and become caught up in the work you are doing. However, by making a concerted effort to get to know those around you and keep up lines of communication you would be surprised how much it can help your own work. Whether through contacts or helpful advice or information, the minds of others hold a wealth of resources.