…what are you doing this weekend?

2 Secrets to Working Smarter, Not Harder

Weekends are amazing in Madison. We live close to a vineyard that reminds me of Napa, a bistro that feels like you’re in France and the Long Island Sound that feels like vacation on Block Island – yet way too cold to swim yet, unfortunately! Unplugging from work is vital if we’re to recharge to be able to get to the things that matter most. Yet, the other day a small business owner was telling me, begrudgingly,  they still find themselves working on weekends. Is this you? If so, read on because it’s time to re-thinc! Palm trees

Time is a challenge for everyone as the scales seem to consistently tip toward ‘too much to do’ and ‘not enough time to do it’. Often, it can feel like we’re drinking from a fire hose when we’re not even thirsty! Of course, we’re all busy, but how do we find time for what’s truly important when the days and weeks pass so quickly? Whether it’s family time, downtime, or focusing on your goals, these are things that bring us joy and fill our energy tank so we can live our lives more fully. So, how can we work less and play more? Let’s find out…

The first real secret is that those who are able to conquer their in-boxes, manage work demands, leave the office when it’ still light out – and even find the time to work out – are not an elitist species! They simply do things a little differently. And often, it is the small differences that can make the biggest impact. Here’s some tips…

 1 – Less is more

What can you afford to stop doing? In what ways are you unknowingly overloading yourself? Can you recall a time when you took on more work instead of investing, say, 10 minutes to teach a team or family member how to handle a task that they could allow them to feel more valued and engaged? Think about it. Less is truly more when we re-thinc what we choose to say yes (and no) to. Then we can focus on what matters most.

Your team wants to – and can handle – tasks that will increase their value, as long as you give them some direction. The fact is, we cannot do it all. Successful people know this and make plans that focus on fewer things so that they can accomplish higher priorities. They build a team whose members share the load and focus on their strengths so that everyone works smarter not harder.

 2 – Self Management vs. Time Management

Here’s the biggie… The fact is, we cannot manage time; we can only manage ourselves. What does this really mean? It means we can only manage our choices to decide how we will use each minute of our day. We are not machines, and, contrary to the multitasking culture we live in, we can only do one thing at a time. Here’s where I get curious for you…

  • What mindset allows you to act on your highest priorities?
  • How can you avoid interruptions for the next 30 minutes?
  • What or who repeatable robs your focus? How can you change this?

Making it Stick

DogYour mindset is key. I invite you to take charge, to take one minute now that can save you 10 later. Decide to use a minute now to write down three things you want to accomplish today or this week. Or maybe you can use that minute to schedule an appointment with an important contact or friend you haven’t had the chance to follow up with. Or why not hold off on calls and emails and commit to finishing one outstanding task that’s been hanging over your head before you leave the office today?

Either way, a step in this direction can allow you to move closer to the things that are most important to YOU because all goals are a series of steps. Take one, now! However, I must extend caution. The repeated act of putting what matters most to you first can create more results and more positive energy in your life. Just saying!


Mary Stager helps solo and small business owners discover greater ease and success to live life more fully. She helps people re-thinc and re-ignite their business to achieve what matters most to them. If  you want more from your days, you can sign up here for a FREE subscription to her monthly blog that offers tips, tools and strategies so you can WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER today! 

1AA_PR Photo MJS hdst



  1. Amen, Sistah!

    Working smarter, not harder is a topic near and dear to my heart! I was watching an episode of Bar Rescue and something John Taffer said really hit home. He said, “You’re so busy working IN your business, that you’re not working ON your business.” How often do we each do this in our lives…giving hours of precious time and energy to minutia when our creative souls are clamoring for more painting, more music, more dancing, more playing?!

    Thanks for this, Mary!

    Rock on,

    Chelle Lu :-)

    • marystager says:

      Yes, Chelle, minutes turn into days quickly as well. We must manage our business or it will manage us. Here’s to more painting, dancing and playing! Thanks for the comment!

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