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Work Smart vs. Work Hard: What’s Its Impact on Success? 


We are all working hard in life - there is no doubt about it. We work hard in our jobs so we can excel at work. We work hard to maintain relationships with clients or co-workers. We work hard to achieve the best results in our life. But after working hard for an extended period of time, you might realise you have done many - and yet they are not enough to achieve your goals. 

Some thoughts might appear, “Should I work smart instead of hard?”. When you have 24 hours a day, just like everyone else, you have to start working smart - on top of working hard - to get the maximum value for your time and effort. 

Work hard vs. work smart

Working hard gives you results, but working hard and smart at the same time gives you the top results. Why? In a simple explanation, working hard means you would spend long hours to complete your tasks without any shortcuts. Hard work includes pressing through with a task without really determining in advance how you are going to complete the job you start. These long hours of work ensure good results but the process might be long and stressful - and oftentimes boring. 

Meanwhile, working smart would be aiming for the same results but with planning and prioritisation of the tasks. Smart working lifestyle might involve solidifying a strategic approach to the work and identifying things that you need to do. 

When you combine a hard and smart working style, you are likely to achieve better, bigger, and more satisfactory results. For example, you are working on a project with your team. You put enough pressuring time into executable plans that make the job easier to complete. Not only does your team have more time to excel in the project, but you and your team will also have enough time to excel in each personal interest. 

See also: Does Dress Colour Matter in a Job Interview? 

Working smart: mistakes to avoid 

While many people know how to work hard, working smart might be harder to implement as it needs creativity and intelligence to create an executable working plan. Here are some things you should avoid in any professional scenes. 

  • Do not rush into the answer. While your boss explains their ideas, take your time (2 to 3 minutes) to think and observe or evaluate the plan/idea that your boss gives. In an interview, there is nothing wrong with telling the interviewer that you need a moment to think about an offer. 

  • Avoid lying or telling half-truths. Telling your boss or interviewer that you are a smart worker without having anything to back it up is not helpful. So before a meeting, ensure that you have the plan ready. 

  • Avoid backstabbing. Find a positive way to say things rather than tearing other people down or blaming other co-workers for a mistake. 

  • Avoid being negative. Getting frustrated that you do not know the immediate answers when needed, make sure to always stay positive throughout the discussion. 

Skills and habits to form if you want to be a smart worker 

Smart working individuals take really good care of their competences. They develop themselves personally and professionally occasionally. They read, develop street smarts, and make sure they become extremely resourceful. And if you want to be a smarter worker, here are things to start doing and make it your habits: 

  • Acquire good domain knowledge through formal and informal education 

  • Get an optimal formal level of education depending on your personality, resources, and goals 

  • Learn how to manage money and get financially educated 

  • Take care of your body with regular exercise and a good diet 

  • Develop a capacity for love and build deep connections with your family, intimate partner and friends. You should also develop a good professional relationship with your co-workers. 

  • Develop your interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. 

  • Be minimalist and eliminate most distractions from your life

  • Automate, delegate, outsource, and optimise as much as possible. Smart people know how and when to jump into a project or task. If the task can be automated, why not? This will save tons of time. 

  • Introduce a no-interruption day to your lifestyle where you can enjoy your hobbies. 

  • Have a growth mindset and focus on solutions, not problems. 

  • Know your work and life rhythm and practice on them. For example, sleep time, wake up time, exercise, etc. 

  • Know what you want and always observe your surroundings. It can be from news, daily observation while you walk or sit in a cafe, etc. 

  • Don’t be ignorant, and know when and how to act. Have manners. 

There are still many things highly smart and successful people do. It is mostly about good self-management and self-care that make you a smart worker. One important advice is to work smart, you should stop being a perfectionist. That is the key. You should trust people around you, delegate, and automate using the latest helpful technology. If you are able to do that, it leads to a good, satisfactory work life. 

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