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Tips on working smarter instead of just harder

Working harder alone is not enough in today’s workplace. In addition to working harder a successful worker will learn how to also work smarter. Whether you are a manager, owner, full-time or part-time employee you need to practice the ways of smarter working. Here are some practical ways to assist you in actually doing it.

1. Get organized — Make a “to do” list. Check off things when they are done. Don ‘t take on more then is possible to accomplish. Any items left over can be transferred to tomorrow’s list. Clean up your desk or work area and organize your files. Prioritize the tasks at hand.

2. Measure your results — Many people put in more hours but don’t get any more done. To some, everything is an emergency but it cannot all be top priority. Be realistic in your measurement of results. Take ideas presented by your manager. Accept constructive criticism.

3. Be open to learning-training — You can learn from everyone you meet. Learning can take place from people who are different from you, those in different jobs and employees with varying skill sets, whether younger or older, experienced or a newbie, younger or older can be advantageous. Take advantage of all classes available, both in person or online.

4. Develop a network — Networks can be built in your workplace but also at church, club meetings, community events, etc. Your network will be a valuable resource all throughout your career.

5. Be an active participant in meetings — Attending meetings on important topics should be a priority. Know the topic, who is attending and be prepared for the meeting. Take notes during the meeting. Speak up with your ideas and ask questions as appropriate.

6. Become a more effective communicator — People cannot read your mind. Practice for any presentations you make. Whether the communication is written or spoken think through what you are trying to communicate. Become an active listener. Active listening takes focus and requires practice.

7. Respond to emails, texts, letters and phone calls — Be prompt and concise in your responses. Not replying sends a message that it is not important to you or that you don’t care. It is also simply discourteous.

8. Delegate — Delegation is a very effective tool in working smarter. It shows you trust others and also recognize there are other team members who can perform the needed work successfully. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

9. Have fun — Be congenial and look for the good in others. You can be serious about your work and also have fun. It makes the day go by faster and reduces drudgery.

Don’t be satisfied with the conventional way of doing things. Be open to change. Applying maximum effort to all you do, working smarter, not just harder, will help you to reach your goals and be successful.  If you desire to excel in life and your work, learning how to work smarter should be a priority. Working hard is not a relic of the past but it alone is no longer enough.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.