Seven ways to work smarter, not harder

Julia Leask is a “change enabler” and helps business owners to get the best returns from running their own businesses. She is a Chartered Management Accountant and trainer with over 25 years’ experience working for and with a broad range of sectors.  The last five years have been specifically dedicated to working with SMEs.  She has been invited by Nicola Draper to write a blog entry for the website and has submitted the following contribution:-

Have you got a to-do list that just seems to grow and grow?

Do you find yourself wishing there were 36 hours in every day?

Well don’t worry, you are not alone.  It is a typical problem for growing businesses and one that at first-sight seems incredibly difficult to overcome.

But help is at hand, and the good news is that it does not cost a lot of money to implement, but will make and save you money almost straight away.

I have put together 7 quick tips for working smarter and not harder to help you take back control of your day.

  1. Give yourself time – The first thing to do is allow some time to manage the business. Take a bird’s eye view of what you are doing and make the changes that will pay dividends later.  It may be difficult to take a couple of hours out of the business but you have to be disciplined.  If you are always being interrupted, then go and sit in your local coffee shop and plan the changes that will transform your day.  Once you have done this, make it a regular date so that you can keep up the momentum.
  2. Be ruthless – Take a look at all of the things you do and ask yourself the fundamental question “Why do we do that?” If the answer is because you have always done it that way – or even worse, you can’t think why you do it – then cut it out.  There is no benefit to doing work just for the sake of it.
  3. Plan your work then work your plan – Too often we turn up to work and get pushed from pillar to post, and at the end of the day feel that nothing has been achieved. Studies show that the executives with a day plan get more tasks completed and do so quicker than those who have failed to organise their day.
  4. Prioritise your plan – Make sure that you are doing important jobs rather than just the ones you like. Give each of your tasks a score out of ten based on how critical and urgent it is.  Do the tasks with the highest scores first and not the ones you enjoy doing.
  5. Stop re-inventing the wheel – There are hundreds, if not thousands, of apps and software programs that will help you with your day. From things as simple as free expenses managers that will take a photo of a receipt and then automatically produce a report, to full-blown accounting software.  Have a look around at what is available, and consider investing a small amount to take away admin drudgery and give you back some of your valuable time.
  1. Delegate – When you have built up your business it can be really difficult to let go, but if you never train and trust people then your business won’t be able to grow any more than the amount of time you personally have available. If you don’t have anyone working for you then ask family or friends for occasional help.  You may be surprised to find that people enjoy helping out.
  2. Outsource – If you can get someone else to do a task that frees you up to concentrate on your core business, then it’s worth doing. A good example of this is bookkeeping, where a professional will be quicker and more accurate, and while they are poring over your books you can be out earning more money.

The best advice I can give is to remember that you are a business manager rather than just someone who works in a business.  Applying these tips will give you more capacity to actually run your business rather than have it run you!

I would like to thank Julia Leask for her contribution to our Blog.  If you want to know more about how to work smarter and not harder, then email Julia at or phone her on 01926 298829.

Draper Hinks works with accountants that want to sell or buy accountancy fees.  We are business brokers for accountants and deal with no other type of business, so if you are thinking of buying or selling an accountancy practice, then please contact us on 01788 816440 or email us at