It’s a common misconception that the harder someone works, the more successful he or she will be. You can’t just work hard to attain the most important goals you set for yourself and for your organization: You’ve got to work smart. As management guru Peter Drucker once said, “Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.” Here are seven ways to work smarter—and to be more successful—no matter what your job is.

1. Create a Routine for the Best Use of Your Time

Schedule errands, meetings, and appointments back to back so that you aren’t venturing out of the office multiple times a day. Incorporate your lunch breaks into this period, and you can lay out exactly how much time you are going to spend on each project daily.

2. Create a To-Do List for Your Day, Week, and Month

Highlight the most important things that need to be done each month, and then assign the tasks needed to complete them to specific weeks and days on your to-do list. This is the most effective way to be sure that a huge project won’t get overlooked and that your time is being used as effectively as possible.

3. Figure Out What Must Be Done Only by You, and Outsource the Rest

Don’t let yourself be held back from tackling the important things by busywork. Look in-house first—are there other people on your team who can take these jobs off of your hands? If not, there are many websites available, such as Fiverr and Fancy Hands, that offer relatively cheap services for monotonous daily tasks, and they are more than happy to take your work.

4. Find People Who Are Good at the Things You Are Not, and Hire Them

Are you creating a project that needs writing work, but you really hate writing? Hire someone who loves to write and hand off that work; it will be worth the money to have that burden off of your shoulders. Play to your strengths and hire for your weaknesses.

5. Set a Deadline, and Reward Yourself When You Reach It

Setting a deadline is a key step in attaining your goals. Set this deadline a few days before your real deadline to ensure that you get everything done on time while giving yourself a little breathing room. Getting things done early gives you a head start on whatever project you’re working on next, keeping you ahead of the game instead of always lagging behind.

6. Keep Your Work Environment Distraction-Free

Avoid the urge to browse the internet, play with your smartphone, make personal phone calls, run personal errands during the workday, or allow other distractions to get in the way of accomplishing your goals. If you develop the habit of keeping work at work and personal stuff at home, you’re more likely to accomplish what needs to get done during the day. And it will make your time at home more relaxing and enjoyable.

7. Keep Emails Short and to the Point

There is no need to send a paragraph when one sentence will do. Not only does it waste your and the recipient’s time, but people tend to respond more quickly to email messages that are direct and concise. That said, always be polite and courteous.

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Photo of organized desk courtesy of Shutterstock.

Updated 6/19/2020