Original Post October 13, 2010

Are you making choices in your life that in effect, give you more work when you could approach a task in a different way and achieve the same goal?  Really: are you working harder, not smarter?

I ask my students this often, but even as adults do we consider this advice?

The internet offers us opportunity to achieve this goal.

Some ways I utilize the internet to make my life smarter:

Sign up for the blogs I really like so they are sent automatically to me. For example, Rowdy Kittens arrives in my inbox as new work is posted.  I can then read it at my leisure.

Automatic debit for major bills. Why worry about when bills are due when you can set up your student loans or credit card payments for automatic withdrawal from your bank account?! (Just be sure you have enough money in your bank account!)

Mint.com. Consider consolidating all of your financial information onto a free site like Mint that can help you better manage your finances.  You can actually set financial goals and it will offer support and advice!

RedBubble.com. Find a community of like-minded people to help support and showcase your artwork.  RedBubble is my site of choice.  I can offer prints of my artwork, journal and share in community experiences like group critiques of artwork. They also offer this experience to writers.

These are just a few examples of how the internet can tie up loose ends in our lives so we have more room for the important things.  Are there other strategies in your life that would be smarter and not harder?

Food For Thought:

Live closer to work so you have less commute and more time for: exercise, family time, painting. I have colleagues who are walking distance to school, it offers them the chance to exercise before work while I have a 20 minute commute. I don’t have the desire or willingness to wake up at 5 am to get in that run. But if I could walk to work, maybe I would have the time!

Share lunches with co-workers/friends. One of my buddies at work Gregg suggested this; it is a great idea. We are both without family to feed so when we make food there is a lot leftover. Set up a system to make a friend lunch once a week. Call or text the person the night before you plan to bring in lunch to give them notice. Some people set up definitive days to give one another lunch, Gregg and I just text one another the night before so our flexible schedules don’t feel additionally burdened. You can then make a large dish without wasting food (or eating the same thing day in and day out) and maybe get some new recipes along the way too! Perhaps you will have one less day at work ordering takeout…

Participate in/arrange to have a clothing swap. In Dubai, the crowd can be a bit transient. All of this moving about leaves for all sorts of items unsold left in apartments, clothing thrown away, etc. Something one of the girls started several years ago at our school was a clothing swap. At the end of every school year, as some staff get ready to depart, we arrange a time and place to bring all of the clothes we haven’t worn, don’t fit anymore, etc. Then we all dig through the piles and piles of clothes (and these are serious piles), trading and swapping items we may like in replace of those we brought. It’s a great, cost-efficient way to jazz up your wardrobe, especially in cities like Dubai where clothing prices can be quite high!

Stepping back to reflect

If we all took a little time to make more room in our lives for the important things: family, friends, health, etc., can you imagine what our lives would be like?  In most quality of life surveys Americans are ranked quite low. It suggests our current way of life makes life harder. Even if you are not American, it’s time to re-evaluate and use your wonderful brain to prioritize what really matters. Does making overtime help pay the bills or just keep you from sitting down together at dinner as a family? In this economy it is easy to understand why professional opportunities are important, all I ask is that you step back and think about all kinds of opportunities presented to you, are they really a reflection of your values? Do your opportunities and choices allow a higher quality of life?

“Are you working smarter not harder?” (Click to Tweet)

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Write a list of characteristics a good quality of life has for you. Compare it to the actual choices you make. Do they match or is it time to work smarter?