What the heck does it mean to Work Smarter, Not Harder?
This phrase has always puzzled me. For most of my life I have been taught to work hard. It was emphasized in every aspect of society, especially the education system, how hard work pays off. If you ask most successful people about success, most would hail hard work as the biggest contributor to their success. Furthermore, it was the social norm to be rewarded for hard work. The best employees were promoted for their hard work. It was thought to be the only way to get ahead in life, i.e. out work your competitors, and work, work, work. Has that changed and is so, when did it all change?
I would say in the past couple decades, the tables have flipped and hard work is not as precious as it once was. It appears it has been replaced by smart work. Has hard work really been thrown away as a staple in society? Work smarter, not harder tends to imply just that.
This cliché, Work smarter, not harder, grew legs throughout the transition through the generations, from baby boomers generation to Generation X to the Millennials. As technology and social networking expanded so did mindset about smart work. Basically, easy, quick, and simple began to squeezed out Hard. The undercurrent behind this movement was people wanting more time to spend with family and do the fun things that matter outside of working so much. The desire for work flexibility and work-life balance became forefront in this shift. This cliché became a mantra and reminder of this movement.
Below are 25 examples that collectively define smart work by contrasting it to stereotypical thoughts about hard work (Smart vs. Hard):
- Precision vs. Brut force
- Continuous improvement mindset vs. Status quo mindset
- Innovative vs. Repetitive
- Figure it out vs. Stick to what you know
- Wise vs. Intelligent
- Analytical thinker vs. Order taker
- Do important things first vs. First in – first out
- Ask for forgiveness vs. Wait for permission
- Self leadership vs. Hierarchical leadership roles
- Embrace change vs. Resist change
- Seek to learn vs. Wait to be told
- Have a scheduled finish time vs. working until finished
- Relaxed vs. Anxiety
- Fun vs. Uptight
- Resourceful vs. Narrow minded
- Team vs. Independent
- Know the goal vs. Do everything
- Sound judgement vs. Nit picky
- Manage time vs. Ignore time
- Focused Thought vs. Multi-tasking
- Accepting vs. Judgmental
- Life Balance vs. Overworked
- Result oriented vs. Time oriented
- Try something new vs. Accepting inefficiency
- Declutter vs. Holding on for the raining day
To sum all of this up, use your smarts to find the easiest way to complete your task with quality so you will have time for the things you really want to do. Easy and simple are not to be avoided; expect them. Accept challenges and get help to execute those things that seem hard. Take action by reevaluating your routine and take a smarter approach to making change. It is the smallest changes that will ignite a continuous state of positive habit and happiness.