Human hands typing on a keyboard, a yellow watch, mobile phone and computer mouse is also on the white desk

Feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and overworked. 

These are feelings we all want to avoid, but unfortunately we all feel once in a while (hopefully, not too frequently for you).

Let’s do something about it!

How to start working smarter, not harder

It’s time we start working smarter, not harder! In our professional lives and beyond. Now, what this may look like may be different for everyone, but I think we can agree that if we were to start working smarter, we would:

  • procrastinate less
  • increase our productivity
  • feel more motivated
  • feel more job satisfaction
  • save time
  • save energy
  • stress less

I searched far and wide in a hope to find some pearls of wisdom for us.

No really, I asked a few relatives, friends and former colleagues - and alas, they did deliver!

In no particular order:

Do not try to multitask ✋🏻 

Do one thing at a time. Focus. Do this task to the best of your ability. Then have a quick break and move on. 

Let's get real - you can't really multitask if you're trying to do a few things that require real brain power. It's a myth! When you switch from task to task, it takes time for your brain to change its focus. Try timeboxing and just concentrate on one task and see if that helps your clarity. 

Invest in your communication skills 💬  

Get better at active listening. Write concise emails. Ensure your message is clear. Think before you speak. Don’t babble. Stop apologising for having an opinion. This would be advice I would give myself at the start of my working career. 

Manage stress, your way 🧘🏻‍♀️

Advice from my Pilates instructor friend who was at one time running a studio, writing a novel, looking after his son as a SAHD part time, building a property portfolio AND competing in ballroom dancing competitions. 

Stress negatively impacts your health in so many ways - not only your mental, but also emotional and physical health and your relationships. Figure out what works best for you to manage stress and use it effectively. A quick walk is magic ✨ for me.

Don't forget to have breaks🚶🏻‍♀️

Sacrificing breaks because you don’t have time for them, is not the solution to being more productive. Our minds get tired. And we get distracted more easily when tired. We physically can't work at 100% capacity, 100% of the time, having breaks can help to reduce both mental and physical fatigue. Try to take a quick break between each task and see if that helps. 

Get outside when you can for your break 🌳 

Spending time in nature is a simple and free way to improve your focus. It'll also help to reduce your stress levels. When I don't have the time to walk to my nearest park, I walk around my yard, look at how my veggies are going, gaze at my flowers, and listen out for the birds. Helps to clear my mind every single time. 

Legs wearing running shoes, walking on a path through a park

Do the hard or easy stuff first - whichever works for you☝🏻

Front load your week or day by completing the harder tasks first (Eat the Frog anyone?). Or if you find starting difficult, it may be best for you to start with smaller tasks that seem easier or more fun to complete (We call this Eat the Cake!). Try both methods out and see what works. Some days, it may be worth trying to flip things around as well. 

Group similar tasks together 🛒🛍

I always group similar tasks together. For example, group life admin tasks together - pay electricity bill, place online grocery order, arrange the electrician to fix power outlet. And get them out of the way in one hit! So satisfying! 

Establish a morning routine 🌞 

Since returning to work from parental leave, it has taken me a good few months to sort out my morning routine. But it's coming together. What I do almost every weekday morning:

  • ​get boys ready for school. Hubby does the drop off 
  • throw on activewear and go for a 3km walk
  • smoothie 
  • shower
  • log in, and review my to-do list on Llama Life (that I created at the end of the previous day)

Sounds so simple, but having this routine helps me set the day. I feel refreshed. It's my morning 'me' time. I don't feel rushed. My alarm goes off at 6.15am everyday during the week, which may seen really early for some. It's not about getting up early though, it's more about giving yourself enough time to invest in starting your day in a calm way with intention. 

Have clear boundaries for when you work 👩🏻‍💻

Your work will expand to consume whatever timeframe you give it. We all know Parkinson's Law, so try to use it to work for you instead. Set clear boundaries that do not include your weekends, late nights, any time you don't want to be working. Stop allowing yourself to say "Oh I'll do some of this over the weekend" or "I don't need to go for a walk today." 

We are all creatures of habit 🦊

Unfortunately, the quantity of hours worked does not guarantee the quality, or does it increase productivity. Instead of putting in those extra hours, become more effective by focusing on what really matters and changing a few of our bad habits! 

Llama Life is a tool that may also help you work smarter, whilst staying calm and focused. 

Good luck! Let us know how you go! 

A llama wearing sunglasses with text Llama Life is the most fun you'll have with your to-do list