For extremely busy moms, entrepreneurs, students, and just people who have a lot going on in their day to day lives, being highly productive is a must. I know as well as anyone that being productive has its’ drawbacks which includes getting burnt out quick.
Burnout is no fun. When work, housework, and other responsibilities start piling up and you lack motivation to do any of it let alone can barely keep your eyes open, it’s time to reset and develop a new approach to the way you get things done.
That’s where the concept of working smarter vs. harder comes in.
While being a hard and efficient worker is a highly glorified and sought after characteristic, it’s not sustainable long-term because no one wants to work all day and do dozens of tasks. Even if you consider yourself a workaholic, it’s important to balance your work with downtime and relaxation so you can enjoy other areas of your life.
How does this play into finances?
Your work ethic plays a large role in how you earn money and how much you will earn. The other day my fiancé was telling me about some of his coworkers who were arguing amongst themselves and complaining about not getting overtime each week. The whole time he was telling me the story, I couldn’t help but wonder why they were fighting over working more hours instead of finding out how they could get a raise or earn more so they could work less hours and spend more time with their family at home.
Working smarter will certainly help you:
- Avoid burning out each and every day
- Establish a way to earn more money by working less hours
- Free up more of your time to spend in other areas of your life
Getting Your Time Back
If you want to start working smarter, the first thing you need to do is get your time back. We all only have 24 hours each day and sometimes it may not ever seem like enough. It’s important to remove the time sucks from your day that add little value or reward.
My main time suck is social media and checking emails. I spend way too much time on my social networks hardly doing anything productive. While it’s perfectly okay to be unproductive sometimes, I found that by cutting down on the time I spend on social media from 60-90 minutes per day to only 15 minutes per day, I was able to get more time back to do other things.
For you, your time suck may be something different. You may need to cut your television time off early each night or stop browsing through Buzzfeed each day.
The Benefit: Time sucks almost never serve any true value. Once you eliminate them, you can free up more of your time to do something productive or choose to do an activity that’s truly valuable to you and allows you to engage with others.
Identify What’s Contributing to Your Burnout and Establish New Processes
What’s making you feel burnt out all the time? Is it coming home and cooking dinner after a long day? Or is it the long day that burns you out and cooking dinner just add insult to injury? Most people wake up each morning with fresh energy that somehow starts to dwindle as the day goes by.
This is why it’s crucial to identify what’s burning you out so you can either eliminate it, get it under control, or establish a new process. For most people, working contributes to burnout and you can’t just eliminate that. However you can choose to organize your goals and knock out the heavier work tasks early on in the day when you have the most energy. Some experts even recommend getting your biggest tasks done before 9 a.m.
You’ll also want to create new systems and processes which involves changing the way you do things, not changing what you do. Find ways to simplify your biggest tasks so they require less time or energy. This could involve:
- learning a new skill that allows you to become more efficient with your work
- Automating some of your responsibilities like bill pay or scheduling out tasks and updates to run automatically
- Creating candid responses to emails you receive all the time so you can send out quicker responses with less time and effort
- Outsourcing a task to someone else
Even if it costs a little money, if outsourcing a tedious task to someone else, means you spend your time earning more money than you paid that person, it could still be a win.
You can change processes in all aspects of your life as well even if it’s only a tiny change. For example, instead of tearing up your kitchen cooking dinner and having to cook and clean up later, try rinsing dishes, loading the dishwasher, and wiping down counters as you cook so there will be little to no cleanup when you finish.
The Benefit: Little or big wins can add up and the new processes you create to simplify your daily tasks will help reduce burnout and the need to ‘catch up’ all the time, even when you’re schedule is off track.
Invest Time in Growing Your Income
Financial success doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to earn more to meet your financial needs and goals, the answer doesn’t always solely lie with hard work. While my last point mentioned changing the way you do things but not changing what you do, there will be times when you’ll have a desire to do things the other way around.
For example, while there’s nothing wrong with picking up extra hours at your job, I always choose not to whenever the opportunity presented itself at my day job. I started doing this because I’d rather earn find a way to create an additional stream of income and earn more money than I would in the handful of hours it would take me to secure overtime pay.
I started blogging and freelance writing last year and worked to improve my skills so I could become more efficient with my work. At first, it was an investment in terms of my time and money. But now, my efforts have generated huge returns and continue to contribute to my ‘work smart mindset’.
If you are interested in growing your income, diversifying it is one of the best ways to do so. But since you can’t work three or four full-time jobs at the same time, you’ll have to work smart. Invest a little time to research streams of income that you can create, send pitches out to potential partners or clients, and do the upfront work required to obtain a raise, secure a brand new job, or establish a profitable side hustle.
The Benefit: While working harder doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll earn more, taking the time out to research, test, and establish new streams of income will most likely help you reach that goal.
The Bottom Line
Working smarter can help you become more efficient and save time. You can also earn more as a result without burning out easily. It’s no doubt a life changing concept and mindset to adopt.
Have you ever thought about working smarter over working harder? What systems of processes do you set up to do this?