The latest advice we hear from the business gurus is “Work smart, not hard.” Yes, of course; that makes sense. But what does it mean? What exactly should we do to work “smart?”

Working smart means being effective – focusing on the results we’re after, not the process we use to achieve them. Don’t mistake activity for effectiveness. You can stay busy all day without accomplishing anything important. We only have a limited amount of time and energy, so we need to use those resources in a smart way. Use them for the things that make a difference.

For example, before calculators became so inexpensive that people now give them away, most people had to do complicated mathematical computations manually – hard work! You can still do math that way if you want to, but it’s so much smarter – faster and easier – to use a calculator. Both methods produce the same outcome.

Likewise, you can work hard, mowing your lawn in the blazing hot sun and sweating yourself into a puddle, or you can work smart, by waiting until the sun goes down and mowing in the cool of the early evening. Either way, the lawn is mowed, so wouldn’t you rather work smart?

Here are 6 tips to get you headed in the direction of working “smart.”

1. Have clear objectives
Make sure you understand what’s needed. Don’t spend time and effort on some side issue that doesn’t contribute to achieving the goal.

2. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill
Not every job requires an A+ effort. Consider who or what will be affected by the work you’re doing -- how often, and in what way. Keep your efforts proportionate to the value of what you’re doing.

3. Beware perfectionism
Studies show that it requires 50% more effort to squeeze out an additional 10% improvement in quality. Learn to recognize the point at which “Good enough is good enough.” Then stop.

4. Don’t procrastinate
You can turn a mildly unpleasant job into one you truly dread. Don’t make a job more stressful by putting it off repeatedly until you’ve got a crisis on your hands.

5. Do the worst, first.
Get important and difficult tasks out of the way first thing in the morning when your energy is high and unexpected issues haven’t taken over your day.

6. Stay organized
It’s unnecessarily stressful and time-wasting to have your work scattered all over the place. Don’t make yourself hunt for items and information you need. Keep related project pieces together where they’re easily accessible.

Author's Bio: 

Elaine Quinn is an internationally known expert with 10+ years experience helping home-based business owners increase productivity and work-life satisfaction by getting better organized, and staying motivated to get things done! If you’re part of the work-from-home revolution and sometimes feel overwhelmed by everything there is to do as a solopreneur, her new book, There’s No Place Like Working From Home, is for you! It’s filled with easy-to-implement solutions to common organizing and time management challenges, and includes sound techniques to defeat those more personal demons: avoiding social isolation, keeping a sharp competitive edge and staying motivated. Get a sample at her website,