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How to work smarter, not harder

By Amanda Harvey, Marketing Manager

How to work smarter, not harder

Regardless of what your job entails there are never enough hours in the day to complete all tasks. Everyone has their own way of working, but the game-changer is learning how to work smarter, not harder. We’re already pushed to the limit most days, so why not take a step back and analyse how to make your life at work easier and less stressful. Here are our key pointers on how to work more efficiently and which Microsoft tool can help you out.  

Make a list

We get bombarded with tasks and sometimes things slip through. If you’re not already someone who types up or writes out your lists, the time is now. It’s important to have one location for all your tasks to avoid anything being missed. Even if you quickly jot something down in a paper notebook during a meeting, make sure you add it to a digital version too with a due date. 

Microsoft Toolkit: Planner + To-Do + Outlook + Cortana 

A combination of tools that work together to keep you on track. To-do and Planner allow you to create lists, assign tasks to individuals, mark deadlines and view in calendar format or ‘My Day’, amongst many other capabilities. Mobile apps allow you to add tasks and track updates in an instant.  

OUTLOOK + TO-DO: Watch this demo by Daniel Anderson


Now that you have all your lists it may be overwhelming to some to see how much needs to get done. Don’t push the panic button just yet. Review your list and star or move items to the top that need to be done that day. Before you head home in the evening, review your list again and make notes of items that need to be completed when you arrive in the morning.  

Microsoft Toolkit: To-Do 

View all your to-dos at once or break out and view the items only needed to be completed on that day. Link your planner and email to your To-Do and never miss an alert on an assignment or deadline. 

Have a look at Lifehack’s 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life 

Focus in small doses

We should all be fully aware by now that it is not healthy to sit at your desk from 9-5pm straight through without having any breaks. A good way to work on each task is by breaking it out into chunks of about 30 minutes, or according to The Pomodoro Technique only 25 minutes. Switch off any distracts – messenger, phones, social media – and focus at the task at hand.  

Microsoft Toolkit: Outlook Insights 

New feature that allows you to book out time to focus on tasks that need your full attention.  

Read up on Fast Company’s article on when interruption is helpful. 


After each of these short bursts of focus, get up and take a break. When we say take a break, we mean go grab a glass of water, use the restroom, take a lap around the office. Allow yourself a few moments to relax your mind and then get back to it. This gives the brain a rest and helps set your focus each time you do sit down and block out that 25-30 minutes.  

At Silicon Reef, we encourage our team to get outside – weather dependant – and go for a run/walk/paddle board, whatever helps to allow yourself to relax a bit.  

Keep an eye out on our blog for upcoming posts on productivity and how to make the Microsoft suite work for you and your company.

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