Why You Need To Work Both Smarter and Harder
March 21, 2023 9:00 AM EST | 5 min read
We have all heard the phrase “Work smarter, not harder,” but you should work smart and hard!
Today it’s all about hacks:
- organization hacks
- time hacks
- work hacks
But if you’re always focused on how to find a shortcut, the only thing you’re cheating is yourself.
To achieve your goals, take a balanced approach that includes BOTH working hard and working smart.
You might never achieve your full potential without hard work—a little elbow grease, and some late nights.
Adversely, you could waste valuable time and energy if you’re not working smart.
Here’s how and why you must constantly work smart and hard to improve and maximize potential.
Work Smart and Hard: Working Hard
If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
It’s not supposed to be easy.
Goals are something you reach for—by nature, they’re not easily attainable.
Instead of working around the problem at hand, figure out ways to solve it.
Not only that, but you should look for ways to turn the “problem” into an opportunity for you or your company.
On that note: Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an opportunity.
When problems arise, you must tackle them as opportunities—not setbacks.
This problem might have caused x, y, and z, but now it’s an opportunity to prove yourself or to change it to a, b, and c.
Having this kind of outlook is difficult—it comes from a lot of self-discipline.
It is something you need to work on every day.
Unless you’re willing to put the hard work into it, you’ll never yield the positive results of turning your attitude around.
Inspiration can only get you so far.
Some days you just don’t feel motivated, so you need to rely on the work habits you’ve formed for yourself.
These routines will keep you going, whether they’re an outlook in life, like looking at setbacks as opportunities or ways to work more productively.
Work Smart and Hard: Working Smart
Just a quick Google search on “working smart” will yield contrasting results.
Some websites tell you to always get emails out of the way first, while others suggest that you ignore emails altogether and leave them until later.
So, what does that mean for you?
Well, it means working smart is about understanding yourself and how you work most effectively, identifying the most important goals.
Measure results—not time
Take a long, hard look at the results you yield.
Are you checking off top-priority projects?
Are you hitting the goals you set for yourself or that management set for you?
By evaluating the results of your work—either daily or a weekly timeline—you can better assess your efforts and aspects of your productivity that might need adjusting.
The thing is, how much time you take to complete a task isn’t always equal to how productive or unproductive you were during that time.
Understanding how you work is much more important than figuring out how long certain tasks take you.
Identify the 20 in the 80/20 rule.
It was only a matter of time before this popped up.
If you’re unfamiliar with this term (check out Richard Koch’s book if you haven’t already), here’s how it works: the rule states that 80 percent of your results come from just 20 percent of your efforts.
Essentially, 20 percent of your work accounts for 80 percent of the results.
So, to maximize your efforts, you need to focus on the 20 percent that’s driving the results.
For example: If 80 percent of your company’s work comes from just 20 percent of its clients, focus on those clients.
Or, if 80 percent of the commission you make comes from just 20 percent of the products you sell, focus on those products.
The trick to the 80/20 rule is identifying the 20 percent that’s most important.
Once you do that, you’re working smarter.
Bringing It All Together
Working smart and hard shouldn’t be separated; We should combine them to help us constantly improve and maximize our potential.
These strategies play off of one another.
If you identify the 20 in the 80/20 rule and form work habits that help your productivity soar, you will yield good results where it matters.
If you measure results instead of time and always remind yourself to look at ordeals as opportunities, you’ve developed self-discipline that helps you work better and be more self-aware of what you prefer.
Ultimately, to work smart and hard is about understanding how you work productively.
For example, if you form good work habits—like taking walks every hour or keeping a to-do list—but you haven’t been able to train your mind to see problems as opportunities, to create something new or prove yourself, well those productivity tips don’t really help you get further; do they?
So next time you feel stuck, unproductive, or unmotivated, think about changing your mindset, actions, and environment to improve and maximize your potential.
In the comment section, let us know your thoughts on working smart AND hard.
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