11 Simple Tips to Being Smarter at Work

Business.com / Managing / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Work smarter, not harder. Here are 11 simple tips backed by science that will increase your brain power on the job.

We’ve all heard, “hard work is the key to success!” But when it comes down to it, an exorbitant amount of hard work will do you no good unless it’s done efficiently and effectively.

In a lot of cases, that excessive amount of physical effort could actually be eliminated if we just approach it with a little more mental effort. Think about Henry Ford pioneering the assembly line. His cars went from taking 12 hours to manufacture, down to approximately two hours. He worked smarter, not harder.

Every business gets to have smart employees; so how can you become smarter on the job? And not just LOOK smarter, which can really backfire, but actually BE smarter?

Here are a few tips that will increase your mental computer power.

1. Think it, feel it and be it

The power of visualization is real. Think of yourself as succeeding at a business project, of gaining a coveted promotion, or creating a successful business model. Don’t just think about achieving your goals; really grasp what it feels like to have those goals accomplished. Your positive emotion is the fuel to really allow those thoughts to take off in real life.

Spend a few moments each day to do this and you’ll start discovering the ideas to make it happen.

Related Article: Stop Wasting Time: Tips to Raise Productivity and Reduce Procrastination

2. Cut out the negative words

Studies show that negative words impact the part of our brain that produces stress-inducing chemicals. So use negatives as little as possible. Don’t ignore problems at work; try instead to describe them in a positive or at least a neutral way. You’ll feel better, and work smarter.

3. Nap time

 A brief nap can improve your memory and concentration up to 500%. Thomas Edison took ten-minute power naps during the day, and look at some of the things he came up with: the electric light, the phonograph and the movie camera.

4. Pay attention

Your attention span, or lack thereof, has a major impact on work performance. If you can’t stay focused on company goals and immediate assignments, you will not be considered much of an asset by your boss. Take this test to see how good your attention span is.

5. Outsource

Napoleon Hill discussed one of Andrew Carnegie’s principles that was referred to as OPB (other people’s brains). The concept is based on the fact that there are people out there that are a lot more knowledgeable than you in a particular area; so utilize their intelligence.

Legal services, accounting firms and marketing agencies for example, are all specific people that may know more than you relative to these areas of business. If they can do it better than you, why not? Joseph Genovesi, President of RD Legal Funding agrees. He comments, “Experts get better results than amateurs, so are you looking for glory or for results? Get an estimate, then run it by the boss; at least he or she will know you’re serious about getting the job done, and getting it done right.”

Related Article: 12 Productivity Hacks for Entrepreneurs

6. Break up your work day into small goals

When you’re given an elephant to eat, how do you do it?  One bite at a time. It’s the same with projects at work; just break them down into small units and work on each of them one at a time. That way you won’t waste time worrying about the big picture.

7. Listen to your body

Your biological, or circadian clock, ticks away 24/7. And it’s not just one overall clock operating our body’s schedule; we have numerous clocks within our body’s organs that are working in synchronicity.  It’s in our DNA for the body to automatically function most efficiently at particular given time periods.

Pay attention to your biological clocks so as to not throw them off balance and most importantly, to focus your best physically functioning hours on the most important tasks, rather than the trivial ones. If not, it will not only cause you to function less efficiently, but can affect your physical health.

8. Learn to track your time

There are a slew of new apps that help you keep track of where and how you are spending your time. Find out just how much time you spend at work killing zombies on your mobile app when you should be doing inventory or a sales report. It will guilt you into working smarter. 

Related Article: 5 Productivity Myths, Busted by Data

9. Make it a habit

Make a list of habits and rituals you need at work to do your job smarter. Start with habits to work well with others. Then branch out to other areas where you deserve to gain some new work habits.  Studies show that it takes only about 21 days to form a new habit.

10. Have more than one work station

Go from a sit down desk to a stand up desk; from a windowless room to one with a great outdoor view. Use the break room, and then go sit out on a park bench. With mobile devices you can virtually work anywhere there is Wi-Fi. Not only will this refresh your senses, giving your work a boost, but you can also avoid people you don’t want to see at the moment.

11. Keep your sense of humor

As the poet Robert Frost said: “The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.”

Obviously, he’s making a joke about life on the job. That being said, it’s OK to allow the serious tasks of your job to be viewed through the prism of a little light hearted laughter. Doing so, will keep your mind balanced to alleviate stress and keep your peace.


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