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Fragments and Shrapnel: Working Smarter not Harder

This week’s post originally began as a windy diatribe on the importance of having fun. I had most of it written before my husband, Ian, called me outside to help him with some yard work. He was working on building up our raised beds so we could plant peas and carrots. He asked me to get one of the bags of compost out of the garage and put in the wheelbarrow. My first thought was to drag the 25-pound bag across the yard and throw it into the wheelbarrow. But before I did that my thoughts turned to my mom, who on her first day of retirement, fell down her basement stairs and broke her arm. A toolbox full of pins and screws and a month of physical therapy later, she is on the mend. I have a fondness for my back so I put the bag down and grabbed the wheelbarrow and brought it into the garage. Nodding his approval, Ian looked at me and said, “Work smarter not harder.”

A light bulb went off above my head and that’s when I knew my post about having fun was headed toward the compost pile.

So what does it mean to work smarter and not harder? For one thing it means to be prepared. I worked in radio long enough to always set aside stories or fluff pieces so when a guest flaked out on an interview or we had a slow news day there was always enough material to fill time. I put my ideas for blog posts on a working list and expand on them when I have time. It gives me incentive to write when I could be goofing off checking my Facebook page and so I’m not staring at a blank page on Sunday night wondering what to write.

Working smarter and not harder is about setting limits. When I get home from work a part of me that feels like I should spend the evening writing and working on creative projects. I once read an article about a woman who would spend her evenings in the library writing and practicing her craft for 5 hours after she got done with work. I have a nagging voice in my head that tells I should be doing this, but I can’t just jump into writing when I get home. I need to have a glass of wine or some time to meditate and just enjoy being home before I jump into other projects. If I don’t then I end up spinning my wheels and nothing gets accomplished.

Last and not least, it’s about balance. I know the great American novel will not get written if all I’m doing is working on house projects. And the house won’t get cleaned if all I’m doing is writing. I am learning to find balance between my demands at home and my creative life. Sometimes one or the other has to give but if I’m prepared I won’t be caught off guard.

Last week on A Closer Look Radio, Pam interviewed Jennifer Prosek the author of Army of Entrepreneurs. Jennifer talked about how she grew a successful business by empowering her employees to work smarter and think like owners. By doing this her employees felt like they were making more of a difference and really contributing to the company not just working there. Jennifer gave lots of other great tips that can be used for business or your daily life which you can listen to by clicking here.

So as I close out for the week, I want to know how you work smarter instead of harder. 80-hour work weeks or 20? Not answering every e-mail or only answering them at certain times? Comment and let’s share ideas.


About Anna Alexander

I get ideas. I write things. I sometimes follow through with those ideas. I also run long distances and live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband cat who lets us pay the mortgage on his house.

One response »

  1. what a great topic. what i find most important is balance! as we get older, life is all about balance…work, fun, family & self. just knowing and being ok that these priorities will change every day,,,sometimes 2-3 times day. corny as it sounds, life is way too short to get wound up about not keeping on task all the time. nothing is constent…be flexable! good job ADKA


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