“Work smarter, not harder” – It’s a phrase that’s all too common in business and the professional world. The simple phrase is best known for being tossed around during stressful and busy times around the office and is often the catalyst for people newly motivated. The idea of working smarter rather than harder is not as simple as it sounds. If you’re struggling to put the timeless advice to good use, follow these four tips to meet your deadlines with ease and accomplish your goals and tasks without burning yourself out.

  1. Get it all down on paper. Write down small tasks, major deadline, and meetings you have throughout your week. Once you have your week on paper, go through it day by day because something inevitably will come up. When unexpected meetings or deadlines arise, you’ll be able to breathe and work through it with calmness, knowing that you are aware of your responsibilities for the day and can prioritize accordingly.
  2. Prioritizing is crucial to completing a task list. Once you have your daily list of things to work on and places to be, number them in order of importance, #1 being the most important. Sticking to those numbers as you go down your list throughout the day will help you feel balanced and organized, which is important if you want to feel like you’re working smarter, not harder.
  3. Accomplish what you can, and consider delegating what you can’t. There are many things that may be your sole responsibility, but often, small time-consuming tasks that have fallen under your care can actually be handled by someone else who may have more knowledge or acuity to complete the task more efficiently. Take a look at your lists and see if there’s room to delegate a responsibility or two. If not, consider getting some extra training on the subject so you can accomplish the task on your own in less time.
  4. Use extra time in your day to your advantage. Waiting for your order to be ready at lunch? Start using that time to answer quick emails, return missed calls, or review your list of tasks. Prioritize or re-prioritize tasks that might have been added or changed. Small pockets of time can often be found throughout the day, and it may be beneficial to your stress levels if you use those time slots to check-off little items.

Court reporters often find their days can become busy quickly and unexpected deadlines often arise. When you map out your day and your week, do what you can, and utilize spare moments in your day. You can quickly find yourself feeling more ‘in the groove’ with your responsibilities and less ‘underwater’ by practicing these action items to work smarter, not harder.