How To Work Smarter & Think Before You Search

I’ll bet you have heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder”. Some aspects of working smarter, and thus more efficiently, require time and experience. Whether you learn on your own or from others’ experiences, both will increase the value of your work.

This has been something I notice in my job, when I start to feel like certain aspects are repetitive and dull. I start thinking there should be a better way to accomplish a search that I am repeating, or a way to make something happen without the repeated effort on my part.

These needs that are identified are often capitalized upon in the form of apps and plugins, libraries, machines, etc. But there are some little habits that really make my life easier that really can’t be replaced with any sort of technology because it requires thinking.

Well sure, your computer can do the thinking for you, you might say. Maybe so. But if we let technology do all the thinking, its lack of a conscience will disappoint.

So here’s just one example of how I’ve been able to save myself a lot of time, every day. I think before I search. Now, the computer can’t give me feedback on what I want to search for until I type it in. It can only use what it’s been given. But me, I can do more before I even start typing. I have this list of pages. A large list. And I need to find and open a specific one. I know there’s a whole course worth of ways to use a search engine efficiently, but in my specific case there is no search engine, just “Ctrl + f”.

I used to just start typing the name of the page, and then click through the results, next, next, next, until I found the one I was looking for. Which takes way too long when you have pages that all start with the same thing, or even if you search for a more identifiable part of the name, there are usually more than one with that part in the name. Then I realized, if I thought about it just a little, I could probably come up with a part of the name that is much more likely to be unique. For instance, “r & T” is in the title of this post and more likely to be unique than starting my search with “think”. A little thinking before turning over the load to the find function can go a long way.

This is a really generic example, but basically, my point is this. Give yourself permission to make your work easier. Without help from technology. You are capable. No machine can do anything a human has not enabled or instructed it to do. Someone had to think about how it could be done before the machine could take over the job. That can be you, you can think about how to make your job easier. Human efforts and thoughts are more powerful than any technological accomplishment. Because technology cannot think, not like you can.