I feel like many people struggle to draw a line between working hard and working “smart.” I know I’m guilty of it.

In college, I started every semester with some pretty ballsy plans to never miss a lecture, read every chapter, and add the most extra credit points to my grade as possible. My plans always crumbled the second I became overwhelmed with assignments and became distracted with more appealing things, like talking with my friends or playing with my dog.


What I wish I had learned earlier in my college career is that you don’t have to put your blood, sweat, and tears into everything you do. Doing your best is not equal to working long, tiring hours. Doing your best can mean first deciding the best and most efficient approach to take, and then using minimal energy to reach your goal.

Because don’t we want to save that extra energy for things that make us happy?

Whether you’re in school or work a full-time job, here are a few ways to work smarter, not harder.

  • For every 52 minutes of work, take a 17-minute break. Studies to back this can be found here.
  • Stay organized. Seems obvious, but sometimes I get so busy that I forget to stop and clear my desktop and reassess my priorities for the day. Making lists, hand-written or digital, helps big time.
  • Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking can feel like you’re getting a lot done, but if you’re doing too many similar tasks, it will only waste time. Tasks that require different levels of attention like listening to an e-book while filing documents, or doing squats while brushing your teeth are totally fine. But if you’re writing an article while checking emails on your phone, you’re screwing yourself.
  • Check your email less. Mashable shared a study that suggests three times a day is the right amount to keep added stress away. Just like with multitasking, switching between tasks requires realignment of attention.
  • Use the phone. Talking to someone is almost always quicker than typing out an email or text. Plus, it’s way easier to decipher someone’s tone when you can actually hear their voice.
  • Do the most difficult tasks first. Get that shit out of the way and then cruise right through the rest of your day!

Do you have any tips to work smarter, not harder? Please share in the comments section because I’m always looking for new tricks.