Work Smarter, Not Harder: Maximizing Your Business Efforts

What does it mean to work smarter, not harder? Read on to find out what it means and strategies you can implement in your business to help you and your employees achieve it.

People might say, “Work smarter, not harder.” But what does that mean? Stick with us, and we’ll break down:

  • What it means to “work smarter, not harder”
  • Strategies to help you achieve it
  • How those strategies can maximize your business efforts

What Does It Mean To Work Smarter, Not Harder?

Working smarter, not harder, means working efficiently and productively with an end goal in mind. Working toward a goal provides purpose and direction to your work. Without a plan, it can be easy to work aimlessly or to get lost in less important aspects of your process. 

10 Strategies To Help You Work Smarter, Not Harder

  1. Create SMART goals
  2. Set priorities
  3. Minimize distractions
  4. Find a focus strategy
  5. Progress, not perfection
  6. Take “brain breaks”
  7. Delegate
  8. Automate
  9. Know when to call it
  10. SLEEP

Working smarter, not harder, is sometimes easier said than done. Like anything else you’d like to improve upon, it takes practice. Follow along for ten strategies to help you work smarter, not harder. 

1. Create SMART Goals

If you don’t have a destination map, it will take you much longer to get there. SMART goals are: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time Bound

There is a defined process to writing SMART goals, but the outcome is worth the time. Creating goals helps you create direction for ideals you want to accomplish.

You can practice this process in two ways:

  1. Begin your day by creating SMART goals for your daily tasks
  2. Create long-term SMART goals for aspects of your business you’d like to improve

Either way, goals are the map to your destination. They will serve as a guide and a reminder for what you want to achieve. Looking at those goals will help you get back on task if you begin to stray. 

Remember: working smarter, not harder involves staying on task, and SMART goals are the first step.

2. Set Priorities

After creating your SMART goals, look at what you’ve included. Ask yourself:

  • Which of these goals is most important?
  • Which of these goals will require the most brain power?
  • Which of these goals need to be achieved for you to move on?

Once you figure that out, set your priorities from greatest to least important tasks. From there, you can create a checklist for yourself that helps you see what you need to accomplish. This is another strategy to help you stay on task when your brain wanders to something else. Prioritizing can also help you with time managementdecision-making, as well as figuring out where you’ll need multitasking.

3. Minimize Distractions

Minimizing distractions will vary greatly depending on your work environment. Whether you work from home, in an office setting, or in a unique domain, common disturbances include:

  • Phones/Social Media: Do yourself a favor and put your phone in your desk drawer, under a couch cushion, in your locker, or anywhere that is not easily accessible. If that is not an option, then be diligent about your usage. If you are using your phone, ensure it is for work purposes. If you’re not on a break, forget it exists.
  • Workplace Gossip: One of the greatest blessings at work is having employees or coworkers you enjoy being with. However, it can also be a big distraction. Creating relationships at work is healthy, but just like your phone, ensure you save the social conversations for break time to keep working toward your goal.
  • Clutter: This might seem insignificant, but having clutter in your workspace can interfere with your work habits. Clutter means more things to futz with, so keep your workspace clean to minimize distractions.

4. Find a Focus Strategy

Finding a focus strategy will be unique to you. Some people like to work in silence. Others thrive in a lively environment. And many enjoy the company of music or a white noise machine. 

Try out a few strategies and see what works for you. Once you find the right one, stick with it to help you work efficiently. When you spend less time getting into your sweet spot, you have extra time to get important work done.

5. Progress, Not Perfection

Progress, not perfection, means appreciating the journey. Don’t get caught up in that which is insignificant. 

If you are stuck on a task and notice yourself getting frustrated to the point where you cannot see outside of it, take a break or move on. As you temporarily step away, retrace your steps. Note the progress you have made and appreciate what you have already done.

You can strive for perfection, but you also have to give yourself credit for noting the progression you have already accomplished. 

6. Take “Brain Breaks”

As we just mentioned, sometimes you need a break in your workflow. Studies show that giving your brain time to rest reduces stress, increases your energy levels, and increases productivity. 

While it might seem counterintuitive to stop working, giving your brain a five or ten-minute break to relax will benefit you in the long run. 

7. Delegate 

As a small business owner, you do not have to do everything yourself — nor should you. You hired your team for a reason, so let them show you what they can do. 

Delegating is a huge strategy to help you work smarter, not harder, because a team working on a project means you’ll be able to assign tasks to individuals and collaborate. 

Different people bring different strengths to the team. Allow them to use their expertise, so you can focus on leading them to the finish line. 

8. Automate

You should consider automating your business wherever possible. Technology provides many resources, like opportunities to reduce costs and streamline many business operations. 

Tasks that used to be tedious can now be done automatically through technology. This will allow both you and your employees to take back your time and dedicate it to something more valuable to your business. 

9. Know When To Call It

There comes a time when your mind and body are exhausted. When this time comes, you will not likely be able to work productively anymore. Often, your work will not be up to par, and you will end up re-doing it — that’s working harder, not smarter.

It is important to know yourself well enough to identify when this time comes. Know when to call it and go home to get a good meal. Sleep, recharge, and come back the next day ready to go.


Sleep is a necessity. Sleep allows you to recharge fully at night, like taking brain breaks throughout the day. Studies show that a good night’s sleep improves:

  • Physical and mental health
  • Brain activity
  • Overall quality of life

This means that when you and your employees allow themselves the space to rest, you provide yourself the opportunity to be more productive at work.

Takeaway: How Strategies Maximize Your Business Efforts

Working smarter, not harder, is crucial because it can help maximize your business efforts. Through practicing those ten strategies, you and your employees can:

  • Increase productivity
  • Take control of your time
  • Reduce stress and burnout
  • Promote a healthy work-life balance

Putting in the work upfront to create habits of working smarter, not harder, will ultimately serve you and your employees in the long run. Take the time to set goals, prioritize, and practice the strategies daily.


SMART Goals: A How to Guide ⎸ University of California

Research-Tested Benefits of Breaks | Edutopia

Sleep Is Essential To Health ⎸ American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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