16 of the best ways to work smarter, not harder
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Naps can do wonders for your memory and help you solidify things you've just learned. Perhaps more importantly, a short nap is the best way to improve your energy levels when they're low. Try drinking a cup of coffee just before a quick nap for the biggest energy boost.
It takes about 20 minutes to feel the physiological effects of caffeine consumption , so downing a cup and then hitting the sack (assuming you fall asleep right away) is a great strategy for feeling even more refreshed when you wake up.
When planning ahead, put the bigger, harder, more pressing tasks at the start of the week (or day), so you can knock them out first and relax more as the week goes on. Set yourself up for success by front-loading your week.
This is kind of a version of Eat That Frog , a productivity method that suggests doing the most important or impactful thing first every day—to be sure it gets done. Learn more about front-loading your week and boosting productivity in Zapier's post about creating your optimal work environment .
If you didn't get the memo yet: multitasking is a myth. It's simply impossible for us to truly focus on multiple tasks that require real brainpower. And when you try to do it, you risk sacrificing your mental health .
It can feel like you are successfully managing all of these moving pieces, but switching between multiple tasks makes it harder to get tasks fully completed. Stop letting your work suffer, and instead, single-task your way through the day.
When I'm writing, I close my email and other tabs. I don't have any notifications showing up on my computer at all so that I can focus on the task ahead. Try turning off all notifications while you're working, or if that sounds too extreme, only turn them off during the periods you need to be most focused. Or you can figure out which notifications you actually need
Taking breaks is one of my favorite ways to work smarter. Without real breaks, our brains get tired, and we get distracted. Once you've given up multitasking, try taking a break between each task you focus on.
You could try something like the Pomodoro Technique or Flowtime to make sure you're taking breaks—and use any of these science-backed ways to take better breaks to make sure you're making the most of them.
A smaller to-do list is less intimidating and more achievable. There's nothing wrong with having a short to-do list if you're getting real work done. Start with your Most Important Tasks (MITs) and limit the list to three items, a productivity tactic popularized by bloggerLeo Babauta .
" Focus on just getting three tasks done, and let anything else be a bonus.
We tend to ignore our energy levels when planning our work, but it's a major player in productivity. Everyone's energy spikes at different times—we each have our own built-in body clock called a circadian rhythm.
If you know you're most productive right before lunch, for instance, don't plan meetings or email catch-up time then.
For other suggestions on how to listen to your personal internal clock, read Zapier's post about how to find your chronotype and schedule your productivity .
Batching similar tasks can help you be more efficient because you're not switching back and forth between different types of work. This is especially useful for small tasks because you can knock out a bunch at once (and get a nice kick of productivity).
Plus, you can be intentional about blocking off time for the things that distract you—such as answering text messages or checking your social feed. You can even chunk small tasks together and get them done between meetings.
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