What comes to mind whenever someone mentions “don’t work hard, work smart”? What is the difference between the two? Which of the two produces better results? Can you work hard and work smart at the same time?
Have you ever had to wash your large pile of dirty clothes with your bare hands? You get your washing soap, add a fair amount to the water in your washing basin, immerse your clothes and start rubbing them between your hands. The tougher the stains, the harder you rub! You keep rubbing your clothes until they are sparkling clean.
If it was a really large heap of laundry, you will have a tough time keeping your fingers straight after you are done washing. The joints in your fingers will hurt – almost as if you had been punching in a brick wall. (I’m talking from experience)
Now think of doing the same laundry but this time with a washing machine. You get your washing soap, load the required amount into the washing machine, throw your clothes in and press a few buttons. Then you sit down and wait. Some minutes later, your clothes are as good as new!
The two methods above may produce the same results but clearly one method is more superior to the other. Now that we have clear examples of working hard and working smart, we can compare the two.
Working hard entails you doing the job whereas working smart is about you getting the job done. When the only thing you do is work hard, you will have to do the actual work whenever you want to see results. Whenever you want to earn money for example, working hard means you must be involved in the actual money-making process every single time. This may be through rendering your physical or mental labor or both. If you want to receive a paycheck at the end of the month, you must report for work every single day. On the other hand, when you work smart, you don’t have to be involved in the actual work in order to see results. All you have to do is get the job done! It’s like throwing your clothes in the washing machine – you do not necessarily do the physical washing but you get your clothes washed anyway.
Working smart means 20 percent of your input is responsible for 80 percent of your desired results. This isn’t a hard fact per say, but the gist is that you produce maximum results with the least possible effort. Thus you stick only to activities that affect the desired outcome and disregard all other. Simply put – working smart requires that you are intentional in your actions, you do not waste time on things that don’t matter. You always act with the end result in mind.
Working hard means 80 percent of your input is responsible for 20 percent of your desired results. Again, this is not a hard fact but it tries to illustrate that when the only thing you do is work hard, you will be putting in more than what you reap out. Don’t get me wrong here, hard work does produce results but there comes a point where no matter how much more you put in, your results will remain unchanged. Haven’t you seen a person study the whole night for a test the following day only to get an F? Factories employ no more than the optimum number of required workers because they understand that more personnel does not necessarily translate into increased production. The same applies to you, there’s a stage where more input does not equal to more output.
How many times do you see a genuinely hardworking person dissatisfied with their work? This is a person who puts in a lot of hours in their work, at times at the expense of their family or relationship, so that he/she can accomplish a set goal. They may achieve the goal in the end but coupled with stress, fatigue, and in severe cases ill health.
In contrast, a person who works smart is more likely to enjoy good health, experience less stress and fatigue, and also maintain a great family or relationship/work balance. A smart working person is more likely to be satisfied with their work and will possess more energy to accomplish even further.
All smart work is hard work but not all hard work is smart work. Let me take you back to the washing machine. Operating a washing machine is quite simple. But then there’s the part of the machine that we don’t get to see – the motor, the pulleys, the gearbox, the valves etc. Now isn’t it a lot of hard work putting all these components together to form a system that performs a particular task efficiently? This is what I define as working hard the smart way – creating a system (the hard part) that allows you to get more done with less effort in the long run (the smart part).