Take 5 – Working Smarter not Harder

Take 5 | Work Smarter not Harder | Agent Mystery Case

When you are spending more time adding to your to do list than actually getting on and doing, it’s time for some serious stocktaking. Today I’m sharing five effective ways, that will have you working smarter not harder. Something I really need to put into practice at the moment.


I’m almost four months along in my Business Mamas business diploma studies and while I’d love to say it has been a super easy walk in the park so far, the truth is at times I’ve really struggled. Not with the course itself. It’s life in general and finding the time to fit everything in that is the real struggle. In the scheme of things though… the long term benefits far outweigh any short term added chaos I’m currently going though.


My life is chaotic at the best of times and adding study into the mix has been a huge and exciting learning curve, but each week there seems to be some other drama or chaos in my life that demands attention and takes priority. Like my daughter recently ending up in ER and requiring surgery, a hubby who is constantly away at sea, my normal work and of course the general day to day almost ground hog activities us mums need to just get on and do, so life on the family front continues to function.


I’ve been trying to cut back on some of my work, especially in terms of the blog but saying “NO” has never been my strong point. Especially when the offers are coming in thick and fast and a little too good to turn down.


Had the Business Mamas course not been so incredibly flexible and my personal mentor so supportive, I probably would have given up at the first hurdle. And there have been more than a few. Again not course related, just life. Thankfully I’m starting to see the light at the end of the ‘juggling too many balls’ tunnel. So much so, that I would love to put everything else on hold and power ahead with the course. Once finished, I can move to the next step which is launching my dream business. The one where I’m working smarter not harder and things are really falling into place. So close I can taste it.


Unfortunately putting everything else on hold isn’t a possibility. Which again is why having an online course such as Business Mamas, where you can work at your own pace is so important. Even though I really needed to put my study on hold for almost ten days last month, this month I was able to put in extra time so that I feel I’m now ahead of the game. Not that it is a race or you are competing with anyone for the finish line.


The suggested minimum study required each week to finish the course in 12 months is just 10 hours a week. It sounds super easy and some weeks that 10 hours does come easy. Other weeks, given my busy schedule, it can mean going without sleep or just taking a step back. Lately, I’ve been prioritising myself a little better (I still have a long way to go) and I’ve been taking that much needed step back rather than sacrificing my sleep.


Here is what else I’ve been implementing to help me get on top of the chaos and my ever growing to-do list:


5 Effective Ways to Work Smarter not Harder




I’m a control freak from way back but if having children and losing the ability to control each and every little thing, has taught me anything… it would be that having a flexible approach to life means a lot less self inflicted stress in the long run.


Stress is exhausting and time consuming and should be avoided where possible. Especially the self induced variety.


Lowering your standards, especially on the home front also helps in this regard. Sometimes life (and your work/home) doesn’t need to be picture perfect and styled to within an inch of its life, it just needs to be functional.


If you can roll with the punches and the curve balls life throws you, rather than be dragged along kicking and screaming. It’s just easier for everyone. Trust me. I tried the whole kicking and screaming thing and trying to control or micro manage every little thing and it is exhausting.


I haven’t given up micro managing. I’m just far more selective. A lot like my parenting style when the girls were little and I would pick and choose my battles. Although, with three teen girls in the house this approach probably still applies. Just don’t tell them!




Like most people, I’m completely hopeless at saying ‘no’. I often feel the need to justify saying ‘no’ in the first place, which can be long winded and guilt ridden and in that moment saying ‘yes’ can feel like the easy way out. It very rarely is!


Rather than continue to struggle with saying ‘no’, I’m putting the emphasis on ‘yes’. Micro managing my approach and priorities in life, by setting myself some saying ‘yes’ to life guidelines. I’m close to calling them my new life mantra…


agent mystery case | Guidelines to saying 'yes'



I’m all for writing lists but when you are constantly adding to those lists, to the point where you’re needing a list for all your lists and you aren’t actually able to get on with the doing, it might be time to turn your to-do list upside down.


I wouldn’t go as far as to say shred your lists completely but taking a step back and prioritising (without writing a new list) is a great and more manageable way forward.


If you are feeling overwhelmed just at the thought of approaching your list… Pick the five easiest items from the list and just get on with them. Once you’ve achieved this mini goal by putting a big cross through those five items, pick the hardest thing on the list and roll your sleeves up.


My biggest tip in this regard when you are feeling almost paralysed with overwhelm, is not to add a single thing other than top priorities to your to-do list. The rest can honestly wait. Make sure you celebrate all your achievements big and small.




In simple terms, I would suggest you put a $$ figure on your time and do a mini audit on what jobs could and more importantly should be outsourced or delegated. Jobs that don’t align with your hourly rate.


Who was that model that wouldn’t get out of bed for less than $10k? I would imagine if you were being paid $10k to model and you were time poor, that you would have the means and the inclination to employ someone for $20 an hour to make that bed clean for you.


Having said that, I must confess, being a control freak means outsourcing and delegation doesn’t come easy to me. I still feel the need to oversee and be far too involved than I really need to be which means the whole point of the exercise (ie. freeing up my time for more important things) is usually lost. Not completely lost but close.


Take the time I employed a cleaner for the house on a weekly basis. I would be madly racing around at midnight the night before cleaning and sorting. Trying to make it easier on the cleaner because… teenagers and their bat caves messy rooms.


Then once the cleaner had left, I’d pop on my imaginary white glove and find fault and have a little mini do-over. Absolutely ridiculous.


These days I’ve trained my hubby and my three girls to pick up some of the slack (and their socks) and lowered my standards (a lot!). When hubby is away with work and I’m time poor my standards slip even further. Although having said that I’m fairly OCD so my standards were pretty unrealistic to start with and needed to drop drastically.




MAKE YOURSEF A PRIORITY! Allow yourself time to relax. Even just five minutes. Almost like a time out zone, a time to gain back some control when you are feeling overwhelmed. I’m almost inclined to say schedule ‘me time’ but seriously when you are a working mother… what does that even look like? Going to the bathroom on your own?


For me, it’s getting up half an hour early before the rest of the house and doing something for myself.


At the moment I’m trialling a skincare system. It’s 15 minutes of relaxing and pampering while I work on my skin and my not so fine lines. 15 minutes of peace and quiet (apart from the buzz of my NEWA skincare system), where I can get my thoughts in order and find some much needed clarity. My little time out zone that has me ready to face the day and my ever growing to-do list head on.



Do you struggle with finding the perfect work life balance?

What’s the first thing to go when you are time poor? 


Business Mamas is an accredited online business school designed to help you launch your new business. Whether it be launching a micro business for extra cash or starting the next big business sensation, it’s all about you and your goals! I’m proud to be a Business Mamas’ Ambassador and will be blogging about the highs and lows of my business diploma studies over the next 12 months. If you have any questions… just ask.

About Mystery Case 462 Articles
Follow Raychael aka Mystery Case on her mystery adventures 'casing' people, products and places to bring you her worth casing favourites.


  1. Top tips – I love that BEAP acronym! Since I took my (unpaid) sabbatical, I seem to be busier and my To-Do list is longer than ever! I’m going to try and turn my To-Do list into a Can-Do list and put just 5 simple tasks on it each day which should be much more achievable. I’m also mastering the art of saying “no” it’s actually quite empowering. Sounds like you are going great guns with your course – yay you!

    • Powering through with the course. Having second thoughts though on the direction of the business because I do really want to be working smarter and not harder and it does mean a lot of hard work initially.

  2. Life can get to busy. I have taken a step back from everything at the moment as it got to much. I decided enough was enough. Take a step back and slow do the things you want and gives you joy. I am liking it a lot better. Good on you for taking on the Business Mama’s course. It looks really good. I love there website.

  3. It constantly amazes me how a lot of women (and men) are busy, busy, busy. I seriously cannot cope with that level of busyness. On the other hand, I’ve organised my life to be slower yet still ended up with anxiety anyway. So it would probably benefit me to be a little busier, but not TOO busy. I’m glad you’re taking some time to look after yourself, too xo

  4. I am constantly struggling with this . The first thing I will do is change my to do list and tick off what is not a priority.

  5. I love all of these tips. I’m rubbish at saying no, too, but then you miss out on so much if you say no all the time. Getting the balance right is never easy.

  6. you are getting wiser by the minute raych!
    all good points!
    it’s difficult when you are at the helm hun!
    NO is a good word and YES is too, but it’s all in the balance!
    look after thyself first! love m:)X

  7. I honestly thought I would love online study, but over the years I’ve tried two different external masters degrees from two different unis and dropped out of both of them. I’ve made myself promise myself that I won’t study again unless it’s on campus. How to make that work with a job though…that’s the hard part!

    • Perhaps you just needed a more flexible course. Is it motivation that you struggle with when doing online courses or something else? Online isn’t for everyone and not all online courses are the same. This one is so flexible and helping me with my business goals, which is why it has been easy to stick to, even amongst the chaos on the home and work front.

  8. My hubster is a big list maker, but I think sometimes he becomes a slave to it and like you mention here, it becomes rather unwieldy – it’s enough to put me off lists for life! I thought I was a list maker but he takes it to a whole ‘nother level! As far as study goes, there is a course that I am keen to do and there are 3 ways to do it – online, a 10 week part time course, or a one week boot camp. Because I work from home online, I’m really keen to do the boot camp – meeting other people and being able to talk about things is part of the reason I want to do the study. I take my hat off to anybody that can manage online study – it’s not for me!

    • The one week boot camp approach sounds perfect for you. I was concerned about the lack of a classroom and contact with others but I attend enough networking events as it is. With this being a small business course aimed at my business, it’s actually more beneficial not to be in a classroom with others, especially in different demographics and stages in their business. While there would be some benefits as well, I’m finding that I can still find these through my networking endeavours.

  9. Such a practical and realistic list Raychel !! I am glad to read you are prioritising yourself also. Your BEAP Guidelines are brilliant !.

    • I’m really trying to be more practical and realistic. It’s a work in progress. Next week, my schedule is completely crazy but for a good reason. I have Zita (It’s Time… ) flying in for a week of shenanigans. I’m hoping we find the time to host a little blogger coffee or drinks catch up. Although, I think a lot are popping in briefly for the Jonte event on Saturday.

  10. Thanks for this list Raychael, it’s come at a great time for me when I’m snowed under with things to do and blogging offers and don’t know where to begin. Letting standards slip at home is the first place to start I guess, but like you I’m a little OCD about my house.

    • I find I almost need to put the blinkers on if things slip at home. I’m really OCD in this regard. I’ve been known to put my cleaning products in alphabetical order. Usually when my MIL is staying with us. 🙂

  11. Such good advice. I struggle to ‘lower the standards’, but have definitely found that lowering the expectations does wonders for my stress levels. My best tip for managing my giant To Do list is that every morning I grab three things off that list that I am going to focus on that day. It has changed my life. If I get through the first three, I add another three. Three things feels so manageable!! x

    • I love, love, love routine but in my house… I’m probably the only one that does. My girls are now 14, 15 & 17, so I’ve had a little while to adjust to the fact that I can’t control everything and everyone. I have a super crazy week ahead of me with Zita from It’s Time flying into Perth. You can guarantee the minute the week is over and I’ve done my fly in fly out trip to Melbourne, there will be lots of resetting.

  12. Life balance is always a struggle. I find if I do one thing productive at the start of the day (do the dishes for example) it clears mind my from feeling overwhelmed because something is DONE. Then, on to emails, writing, blogging, kids, dinner…

  13. Great list!
    I am pretty good at work life balance, however things are a little “Hairy” right now with me having to drop everything so often to do the Mumager thing. I may have to start delegating more in that regard and let Nanny take over there. It’s just that I don’t want to miss out on my daughters new adventures!

    The first thing to go when I’m overwhelmed is the house work. Which then just overwhelms me more. Might be time to get a cleaner again …

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