Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Work Smarter Not Harder

There are times, especially in our youth, we work ourselves harder than we have to. Eventually, experience and planning compensates for our waning physical stamina and creates a better product. We can get great ideas from mistakes, or learn techniques from more seasoned crafts people, each effecting efficiency and work performance. Seasoned craftspeople sometimes enjoy mocking us, making snarky comments, or they watch us fail for humor or to see if we will find a better way. Through all of the demeaning or embarrassing moments, the most poignant work mantra is “Work smarter not harder”. Not only does it save our body, but also it allows us to pause and think of a better way.

Be it a business or a craft, problems have to be solved on time and on budget. Reacting to a problem rather than creating a solution may not be the best way or the right way. The key is to consider all factors, such as time, creating less of a mess, less physical effort, work with the tools you have, the weather, how long it will last, and the materials on hand. Just doing it, good enough for government work, you can’t see it from a galloping horse, or you can’t see it from my house may be fine for some, but if you expect better, consider some of these time and effort saving tricks.

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Manipulating or constructing something new takes a plan. We have professions like architects, engineers, and project managers for a reason. Don’t kid yourself; all projects require thought, from replacing a stripped screw or installing a new deck. Part of your plan has to be the expectation of what can go wrong or potentially what you might find. If you plan for the worst and find it, then at least you gave yourself more time and materials to fix it. If it all goes better than planned, then you win. A good plan can shorten the duration of a project, makes sure you have the right tools and materials, will cost less, and make you much happier with the end result.

 Consolidate tasks

At home I often circle around many tasks hoping they all wrap up simultaneously. Yet the chosen tasks should be alike, such as priming a few things rather than just one, or building up a variety of items to epoxy. Planning and consolidating tasks may prevent project “creep” and keep you focused.

 Use the right tool for the right job

You can also add use only quality tools that are designed for the application and sharp. A screwdriver does not work as a chisel since the handle is not designed to be struck and the point is dull. This is not to say you can’t be creative with tools, benches, or clamps. A rasp, file, sand paper, or a utility blade can take the place of a less than precise cut, but they should never cut the wood.

 The pivot

“The pivot” was one of the first best practice techniques taught to me by a mason. You should never take a step back and forth from materials or tools to your work area. Set yourself up so one foot essentially stays planted. Or if you are kneeling, keep what you need around you so you get up and down a lot less.

If your goal is for you and your house’s beauty and longevity, problem solving may be the easiest way to a successful project.