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5 Time Management Tips to Work Less and Play More
Life and Style Daily
September 13, 2021
4 min

Many people think that fulfillment stems from being hyper-productive or getting as many things done in a short amount of time. Hard work and delayed gratification are glamorized so much that you’re made to feel guilty for taking some time to rest. Well, you shouldn’t.

Being a good worker doesn’t mean having to look busy all the time. Not everyone can survive such a demanding routine and often struggle to manage their time on a daily basis.

If you’re one of the many people who have a difficult relationship with the art of time management and consistent productivity, we’re here to help. The solution? Optimizing your work routine so you can work less and play more but still get the same quality of work done. Here are some tips to learn how to work smarter and not harder.

Track your time

Anyone can be bad at guessing how much time a certain task will take. Often, you might reduce it to how simple it seems then be overwhelmed once you realize how much time and effort you actually need to spend on it.

Take, for example, editing a small clip: you’re likely only focusing on the editing itself and underestimating the smaller related tasks that you need to do afterward, like double-checking, re-editing, downloading, and uploading. As a result, what you thought would take only 20 minutes can take up to an hour.

If you apply this kind of setup for all the tasks on your to-do list without any accurate estimate of how long they’ll take, you’ll likely either end up not accomplishing all of them or stay up too late just to get them all done. That sounds too exhausting to be a daily routine.

What you can do instead is to gauge how much time you spend on each task. First, create a time audit by using a time tracking application for about a week. Then, once you have a full picture of how you distribute your workload over the hours, evaluate the time working on different tasks. This way, you can now accurately guess how much time you need to do a task and come up with realistic to-do lists.

Personalize a routine

Say this with us: routine and to-do lists are not the enemy. So many people are so afraid of routine because they think it stifles their creative freedom. In a way, this is true, but only if you’re sticking to a routine that’s not based on how you function.

To create a routine, you have to note which parts of the day you feel most productive and what conditions get you in the mood to work. It goes hand in hand with knowing how to prioritize things and organizing to-do lists.

Some people tackle the most demanding tasks first because they find that they’re most productive during the first few hours of their work. Others start with smaller jobs to build up their pace and prepare them for more challenging tasks. If this doesn’t apply to you, that’s fine. It’s all about finding out what kind of work setup works for you.

Apply the Pareto principle

Sometimes, when you think that you got many things done during a session, you’ll soon realize that it makes no difference because you might have focused too much on the smaller, more manageable tasks that make no impact. It’s often easier to make many marginal improvements and throw many ideas around than choosing one option and executing it flawlessly. This is where the Pareto Principle comes in.

The Pareto Principle, or the 80-20 rule, states that roughly 80% of an outcome will depend on only 20% of the input. This rule can help you figure out how to prioritize your tasks so you can see later that even if you haven’t accomplished everything on your list, you at least got the heaviest and most impactful tasks done first.

Try analyzing the results of an accomplished task to see where to distribute impact. For example, if 20% of your list, like a small, ancillary task, takes up 80% of your wasted work time, then eliminate that task for the time being.

Bundle your tasks

This might come as obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people spend twice as much time and effort executing tasks by spreading them out than by grouping them to save more time. You need more time to prepare yourself and get used to one job before moving on to an unrelated one.

In contrast, grouping all similar tasks together will make it easier to switch from one part to another and eliminate errors in each area. It also helps improve your focus because you’re dealing with similar dependencies to each task.

Above all, do less

We don’t mean giving less effort or attention to your tasks, though we do mean it quite literally when we say to do less. There are only so many hours throughout the day that you should devote to working. Slow down and concentrate on what matters the most. If you hit an obstacle, don’t let it eat up your time. Move on to the next task lined ahead.

Once you know how your work process goes, you can eliminate many things that can unnecessarily take up so much time. For example, if you spend too much time organizing your list right when you wake up, do it the day or night before to eliminate the stress of impromptu planning.

If you audit your time and organize your list, you can create more value in your work and get the most impact by prioritizing the most critical stuff. Doing less will allow you to do more.


The key to working smarter and not harder is to work on internal development. Everything depends on keeping an eye on your work habits, eliminating time wasters, and maximizing productivity.

No one will get anywhere by sitting around and waiting for everything for the right conditions to happen — it’s up to you to help yourself, make things happen, and take your productivity to a whole new level.

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