Work Smart, Not Hard

By Gillian Callison

Originally Published June 9th, 2018Updated July 17, 2020

Like the gears in a machine meld together to make work easier, faster, more efficient, so do we seek efficiency in what we do. Efficient. It means to be effective without wasting time, effort or expense; to work in a well-organized and competent way; to prevent the wasteful use of a particular resource.

In The Beginning

Where time is the resource, new methods, tools, tips and tricks help us not to waste a moment of it. I'm convinced efficiency is part of our DNA. From the dawn of time we seek to find and use the most efficient method of getting things done. This desire to accomplish basic tasks more easily and quickly spawned the creation of tools. From the first tools for hunting to appliances for running the household to today's technological tools, we continue our quest for efficiency.

Our desire is to use our time for more enjoyable pursuits rather than what can be considered the drudgery of work. Technological advances have streamlined how we perform the many things we do each day. They can dominate and, at times, overwhelm us with options. We use these tools to be able to fit more work in to the same amount of time. But at what cost? Employers expect more from us. Families demand our time and attention. Our own personal joys get lost in the shuffle. We go about our daily lives, moving through the steps by memory - wake, eat, work, eat, work, eat, play, sleep. And so goes the cycle each day.

Tools of the Trade

Tools for efficiency help us to create more gaps in our time for us, our pursuits, interests, passions. I'm a personal fan of technological tools. I use them in my work as an Office Manager and Virtual Assistant as well as in my personal life. Because many of us are juggling a full-time job with an employer to satisfy, along with managing life demands, we seek methods to help us get it all done in the few hours we have available.

So where does all this speculation and pondering about efficiency lead? I love efficiency and seek it in everything I do, whether work or play. Here are some tech tools I use that help me streamline my personal or work systems to get more done.

Note: I am NOT an affiliate marketer and I receive no compensation/benefits for mentioning these products (unless noted below). These are simply ones I've found, like, and use on a regular basis. You can click on the links to visit their websites to learn more.

Office Systems:

  • ClickUp- A "to-do" list amped up to the max! I especially like the email to list feature which helps me work toward a "zero in-box. And I could not even begin to elaborate on its many features. Let's leave it at - It's awesome!

  • Google Products - Yes, I use them. All the docs and sheets are quite helpful and I like being able to access anywhere and share. The calendar also keeps me on track for the big appointments I don't want to let slip through the cracks of my busy day.

  • TimeCamp* - Since I have a side business for clients, I use this simple tracker when working on a project to track my time for invoicing.

*TimeCamp has offered free pro version for mentioning and linking to it in a blog post - this was written before the offer, but I want to provide full disclosure.

Writing and Creating:

  • Canva - Fabulous, simple web app for getting your creative juices producing!

  • Hemingway App - I use this to proof and, hopefully, improve my writing.

  • OneLook Thesaurus - I like this one for finding alternatives to a word that is seeing a little too much use.


As one of my passions I have found the following tech tools to make the necessary planning and prep work more efficient.

  • GaiaGPS - I LOVE maps and always bring along a paper map of my intended hike, but I also like follow a route I set up in advance. After trying several options, I've settled on GaiaGPS as my favorite.

  • InReach Mini + Earthmate - I pull in the route created in GaiaGPS and then track it live during my hike. This provides more accurate mileage and elevation stats. And I LOVE stats!

  • WTA - I am a big supporter of the non-profit organization, Washington Trails Association. They do so much for trails and have amazing resources. It's my go to place for finding a hike or for investigating current trail conditions for an upcoming hike.

  • Mountain Weather Forecasts - It is what it's called. Weather changes fast, but even a glimpse of what is likely expected is extremely helpful.

The bottom line role of efficiency is to help us quickly accomplish obligatory tasks. This can then create a pocket of extra time to use for endeavors we enjoy. When the time comes to pursue our passions, we slow down, stop the efficiency train and relish in the moments as we experience them.

From work to play to life, there are ways to move through it efficiently so that you can get the most enjoyment from the task at hand. We each have our unique methods of streamlining what we do. What works for one may not work for another. However, I like learning what others do, sometimes stumbling on a hidden gem of efficiency I never knew about.

What efficiencies do you use?