That old saying of Work Smarter Not Harder is very easy to say.

However, it’s much hard to do.

To Stand Out in Your Career it will take focus, practice, and foresight.

In order to start Working Smarter and Not Harder… Today. You’ll need to brace yourself, prepare yourself, and hold yourself accountable for both successes and failures. Part of working harder includes embracing the successes and learning from the failures.

Let’s dig into it a little.

Work smarter. – What does it mean?

Work harder – what does that mean?

By themselves and with no context they are effectively meaningless.

But, this is where you come in and apply your business sense your logic.

In the real world we don’t always get to decide what we work on. We also don’t always get to decide when we work on things. Deadlines, customer commitments, life commitments, and lots of other things have a way of getting in the way. This is where the focus comes in. It’s also where your voice comes in. Hint: You need to get comfortable saying no.

For help saying NO see this post… How You Can Say ‘No’ Like a Pro

Even if you don’t get to decide what you work on, and to some extent, when you work on something it is still up to you to decide when and how you will work on it.

Putting Work Harder Not Smarter to Work

Set the goal… not the steps to get there.

U.S. Army General George S Patton was famous for providing the goal but not providing how to get there.

Just as in the military where campaign success and results matter more than the methodology used to get there the same is true for business and in life. Learning how to decipher where to spend your time as well as deciding WHAT get’s your focus is a task that can be daunting and fraught with challenges. Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks to help you evaluate where you get the most value for your time. And, ultimately, time is your most precious asset. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Using The Four Quadrants do Decide

The four quadrants are a tried and true methodology that can help you decide what to focus on, what to drop, and what to prioritize. Again, you don’t always get to decide every factor here. But, oftentimes you do have a lot more control that you might think. Stephen Covey summarized the four quadrants quite nicely in his time management grid. See the table on page 2 of this USGS training document.

There is a table that shows four quadrants of importance. Quadrants I and II are where you should be spending your time. Quadrants III and IV are areas you should seek to avoid or at least minimize.

There are books and courses available that go into depth on the time management grid. I’ll save that as an exercise for you, the reader.

Putting it all Together

When you learn to use The Four Quadrants and Learn to Say No Like a Pro you’ll be well on your way to Working Smarter and Not Harder … Today!