In Others’ Words: Smart

“Work smarter, not harder.” ~Ron Carswell, writer

Sometimes I get to the end of the day and I think, “Where did the day go? And what did I do all day?”

I know I did something. But it feels like, despite a lot of hard work, I’ve accomplished nothing.

It’s Friday, the time when I throttle back (a bit) and focus more on family and less on writing. But I know Monday’s coming.

In Your Words: Do you have any secrets for working smarter, not harder? What keeps you from spinning your wheels and ensures you achieve forward motion?




photo by gabetarian/
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  1. Jeanne T
    January 13, 2012, 6:49 am   /  Reply

    Good morning! Working smarter, not harder…..well, one thing that helps me is to look at the appointments in a given week, plan other outings with those in mind (so I don’t overcommit and leave myself no time for writing, keeping up with the house, me time). Then, I try to be realistic about what I think I can get done in a day. Then, I work on it. At least that’s the plan. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m looking forward to reading what others do. ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Friday, all!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 13, 2012, 8:15 am   /  Reply

      Happy Friday, Jeanne!
      Being realistic — good point. I usually start off thinking I can do more than I think I can. And when my husband adds in his own “thinking he can do more than he can” — we’re on our way to disaster!

  2. January 13, 2012, 7:09 am   /  Reply

    What helps me is having a plan. On Sunday evenings or Monday morning, I tend to plan out my time for the rest of the week…of course, I don’t, sometimes can’t, always stick to the plan. But it does help me achieve forward motion.

    Have a fun Friday. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beth Vogt
      January 13, 2012, 8:16 am   /  Reply

      I like it when I can at least get a “big picture” view of the week, preferably on Sunday night. And on January 1 this year, my husband and I looked at the upcoming year. Well, we got through October, but hey, it’s a good start!

  3. Sonia Meeter
    January 13, 2012, 7:12 am   /  Reply

    Oh someone, please do tell! I read an altered version of the children’s story “If you give a Moose a Muffin.” It was entitled “If You give a Mom a Muffin” and detailed the life of a mom who moved from one project to another, being distracted at every step. Nothing on her TO DO list ever got done, but she was quite busy the whole day!” I so related to the story!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 13, 2012, 8:17 am   /  Reply

      I’d love to read that book, Sonia.
      And I know you actually accomplish quite a bit, friend — including helping this writer keep her life under control!

  4. January 13, 2012, 7:15 am   /  Reply

    I work smarter when I prioritize what needs to be done. I don’t need to work on a blog post for next Wednesday when I know I have to get an article to such and such by Monday.

    I’d like to say I work smart all the time…

    Have a great weekend, Beth!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 13, 2012, 8:18 am   /  Reply

      Priorities: another good point, Jessica!
      I read something while I was on break during the holidays. Jeff Goins, a blogger I follow, said to go ahead and take a break — but to not stop all together. So, I posted some almost-ready posts for this blog, just to get ahead. It helped me feel less under the gun when I came back on board in January.

  5. January 13, 2012, 7:19 am   /  Reply

    You’re right, working hard to save quality time to invest in children, grandchildren. Years back I read then saw (the original) Cheaper by the Dozen, was impressed by time management. That doesn’t mean I’ve mastered it, but I think about it a lot. Enjoy your weekend.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 13, 2012, 8:19 am   /  Reply

      Good point, Dee.
      Where do I want to invest my time? Sometimes it’s things: my writing.
      Sometimes it’s people: my family, my friends.
      I have to choose. Say no (or yes).
      Balance, balance.
      And remember that balance is not static.

  6. January 13, 2012, 7:41 am   /  Reply

    Like others, I’m a planner. I make lists galore. This helps me prioritize what needs to be done vs. what I’d like to get done. I love putting a check mark next to items I’ve completed. (Don’t tell, but sometimes I’ll go back and list things I have already done just so I can check them off! Neurotic? I think so.)

    • Beth Vogt
      January 13, 2012, 8:21 am   /  Reply

      I have been known to add things I’ve already completed to my To Do list so that I can then cross them off.
      I believe that’s called “smart” because having that feeling of satisfaction spurs me on!

  7. January 13, 2012, 7:49 am   /  Reply

    Oh, Sonia! How I relate to that story. I usually make mental lists…like this week I’m finishing a proposal so I know what my goal for the week is. Then life gets in the way…you get the drift. I must start making a plan and sticking to it!

    Thought provoking post and comments.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 13, 2012, 8:23 am   /  Reply

      I think mental lists are good starting points, Pat, but they won’t see us through to the finish line.
      Lisa Jordan did a great talk about S.M.A.R.T. Goals at the My Book Therapy Monday night chat:

  8. January 13, 2012, 9:27 am   /  Reply

    I LOVE that picture, Beth. Delight! I’m trying to get down the Pomodoro technique so I can work smarter. I’ll keep you posted. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beth Vogt
      January 13, 2012, 9:56 am   /  Reply

      I love the photo to, Donna. It made me smile.
      OK, now remind the rest in the conversation: Pomodoro techniques?

  9. Karen S. Elliott
    January 13, 2012, 9:38 am   /  Reply

    I’m smarter this year. I stopped following a few groups that were not helpful. I unfriended a few toxic people. In the morning, instead of jumping into email or social networking, I go right to my writing and work on that for a couple/few hours. I engage in conversations with gracious, pay-it-forward people and ignore the “me-mes.” When I am with my family (son, his wife, grandchildren) over a weekend, I get online only a couple times. My family is more important. I’ve already seen a big difference in me, my goals, and my accomplishments for 2012.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 13, 2012, 9:56 am   /  Reply

      So, so wise, Karen. Lots of good things here to be smarter.

  10. Megan DiMaria
    January 13, 2012, 11:28 am   /  Reply

    I try to plan my week to minimize days out of the house — run errands and make appointments for the same day. Occasionally, I also use a timer to keep me on track. I set the time for 15 minutes with the goal to write 250 words. In an hour-ish (sometimes I’ll start laundry, etc), I have 1,000 words.

    Great discussion, Beth. Thanks!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 13, 2012, 2:03 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Megan.
      I too often try to limit the days out of the house. Once I leave it seems like I never get back — and I’m off track on my writing.

  11. January 13, 2012, 12:37 pm   /  Reply

    I’ve tried to live by that saying for years. For me, I have to make lists and prioritize. Over the years I have gotten better at letting small things go. I know what has to be done and what I would like to get done, then I do as much as I humanly can. My secret weapon is asking God each morning to guide me. I cannot tell you the times he has told me to do something else first on my list (that I had further down) only to find that I really did need to do before I could accomplish something else (not sure if I worded that so that you could understand it). Putting God first and letting him guide my day really help. -Matt 6:33

    • Beth Vogt
      January 13, 2012, 2:02 pm   /  Reply

      I like your mindset.
      I often start the day by saying: His mercies are new every morning and his faithfulness is great.

  12. Patti Mallett
    January 13, 2012, 9:34 pm   /  Reply

    After much, MUCH, spinning of wheels, I might have come up with a long-term plan. (Since I’ve just finished the second week, it’s hard to say for sure.) I’ve set a work schedule and how much time is to be spent on what. Writing time=3 hrs./Study time= 2 hrs./Fiction reading = 1 hr. This is three days a week, with 10 minute breaks every hour and an hour off for dog walking and lunch prep. (Eating can be done while reading.) I live alone so can work from 9:00 to 5:00 three days a week, no problem. Then, Tuesday and Thursday are off. That leaves time to clean house for my ladies’ group on Tuesday and our nursing home ministry is on Thursday morning. (All shopping is after hours.) How I do it is: set a timer for one hour and then write “1 hr. – writing” (or whatever it was) on my chart when it dings. Then I set it for a ten minute break. (Time flies and ten minutes can so easily turn into 30.) I try to do the writing work early, at least 2 hours under my belt before walking. (I am elated that it’s going so well.) Then the afternoon is the fun stuff!

    I have been amazed at how the time spent studying and pondering has brought me so many ideas. Something told me that I wasn’t spending enough quiet “open-minded” time. We all know we have to be silent in order to “hear” but it can seem like we’re wasting time. (And who wants to do that?) But it’s not a waste. It’s where we find the fruit!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 13, 2012, 10:14 pm   /  Reply

      Wow. What a system, Patti.
      I really like your reminder for “open-minded” time.

      • Patti Mallett
        January 17, 2012, 8:18 am   /  Reply

        To many (most?) people this would sound complicated, Beth, but I put it out there on the chance it might help someone who has had the same frustration in coming up with a “working plan.”

        Last night’s Chat was tremendously helpful! Thanks so much!!

        • Beth Vogt
          January 17, 2012, 8:28 am   /  Reply

          Thanks so much for the encouragement about last nights My Book Therapy chat, Patti. I had fun & appreciated everyone’s participation.

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