By: Hira Batool

The importance of hard work in our lives is undeniable. There is absolutely no substitute for hard work. But, there is intense competition at work and you need to prove yourself. That means you need to combine working hard with working smart. Here are 10 tips to help you become a smart worker.

1. Maintain a to-do list: Whether in a diary, on a computer or on your smartphone, maintain a list of tasks along with their deadlines. A to-do list will help you keep a track of things to do, help you plan your workday, and allow you to multi-task as well.

2. Prioritize: Starting your day with no structure will not help you achieve your goals. At the onset, classify your tasks as must-do and good-to-do. You must channel your early-morning energy and enthusiasm towards the must-do activities.

3. Find effective approaches: There are many ways to complete a task. Before you begin, analyse these approaches. Make sure to choose the most effective and least time-consuming option to complete the task. Spending some time to analyse the task in the beginning will help you avoid an unproductive approach.

4. Do it right the first time: Performing a task without an objective and a vision could lead to the need for rework. Be clear about what you want to achieve and how you can achieve it. Spend some time on preparation if needed, but do the job correctly at the first attempt.

5. Learn to say ‘No’: Being able to say ‘No’ is a very important quality. Taking on more work than is humanly possible leads to errors and inefficiency. It will affect your other tasks as well.

6. Continuous learning: You must be open to learning from the experienced people around you. Nowadays, learning from the internet is not difficult. Do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it.

7. Learn to delegate: If you do not have the skills and expertise to do a particular job, delegate it to someone who does. Delegation is especially helpful with regard to the good-to-do tasks on your list. Remember, over-burdening yourself will lead to stress and inefficiency. As a result, you may not be able to do justice to the work assigned. Delegation is a skill; embrace it.

8. Know the programs: Computers have made working smart easier. Tools like Excel, PowerPoint and One Note come to your rescue a lot. To make the best of the available software, use the shortcuts and functions available. Automate where possible. For example, create folders in Outlook and set rules to label emails automatically. This is a one-time activity but it is well worth the effort.

9. Take a break: Breaks help you revitalise. Working continuously tends to exhaust you, thus affecting your productivity. Take a tea break or a short walk during a busy workday to feel fresh again.

10. Know when to stop: Your health and mental well-being are both important. Working continuously leads to exhaustion, which affects your efficiency. After a certain point, even performing regular tasks will take up more time than usual. You must end your day at that point and take some rest.

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