Work Smarter, Not 24/7

Here's how you work smarter so you can go home already.

ByABC News
September 9, 2008, 6:15 PM

Feb. 26, 2010 — -- Prediction: At the end of 2010, when workplace writers publish their lists of the most maddening catchphrases of the year, "do more with less" will rank first.

But why wait till December to cold-cock the motto? Instead of continuing to equate working in a layoff-ravaged office with toiling around the clock, I say we start telling those last employees standing how to work smarter so they can get home for dinner at a reasonable hour.

For tips on how to avoid drowning in today's hyper productivity-minded workplace, I consulted with a handful of employees, managers, entrepreneurs and workplace experts. Here's what they had to say.

Contrary to popular belief, the road to job security isn't necessarily paved with 14-hour workdays and 1 a.m. BlackBerry replies.

"I see people focusing on the industrial ethic of working longer," said management psychologist Karissa Thacker. "But how good are your ideas if you're working 24/7, and how useful are you if you show up to work bug-eyed? Nobody's rewarding that anymore."

While Thacker doesn't advocate "slacking off," she says there's a far more effective way to get noticed than taking up permanent residence in your cubicle: opening your mouth.

"In this climate of fear, I have observed people in a meeting or on a call who had the information and didn't speak up," Thacker said. "But if you're going from meeting to meeting and you can't point out what you did that made a difference, nobody else can either."

As the new reality TV series "Undercover Boss" has shown, management doesn't always have as clear a grasp as their staff does on customer needs and workflow inefficiencies. If you're the person closest to a client or project and you're sitting on a game-changing detail, you're missing a prime opportunity to prove yourself invaluable, Thacker said.

"Find ways to make what you know about the front line of the business or the execution of the operation heard," she advised. "That's high impact."