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8 Reasons Why You Need To Work Smarter But Not Harder

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8 Reasons Why You Need To Work Smarter But Not Harder

“Work harder! Work FASTER!!!”

Remember that commercial?

It featured an old man and an old woman, demanding that their employees produce more in less time. Sadly, this has to a large degree become the societal norm in many countries. People are expected to do more in less time with less resources‒and produce a better product on top of it all! Madness, you may think‒and you’d be absolutely right.

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter boosts productivity, creativity, and saves precious energy for the things that really matter, like your family. You should be working to live, not living to work. (In some areas of endeavor, as for professional writers, the work IS the passion, so this doesn’t really come into play. However, if you have a “real job,” I’m looking at you.) Here are 8 reasons you need to work smarter but not harder.

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1) Hard work is draining.

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    Hard work is mentally and physically exhausting. It draws off energy that you need to maintain things that really matter in your life, like your family relations and friendship. Instead of working yourself to exhaustion, figure out ways to delegate or save labor while achieving the same desired outcome. You’ll be happier and less stressed, which means you’ll be more productive overall.

    2) Working smart saves energy.

    Working smart means conserving energy. It doesn’t mean you can always NOT work hard, because some tasks demand a certain amount of physical toughness or endurance, such as changing out a transmission or pulling an all-nighter to get a project done. However, when possible, do your work in short bursts rather than in long, sustained pushes. Fifteen to twenty-minute intervals with a five-minute “pause” to plan where you’re going next with the project will give you more energy and produce a better end product than if you have to “slop it together” at the last minute.

    3) Working smarter increases productivity.

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    101 Incredible Insights On Life And Work

      I know, I’ve already said this, but it’s really important to understand this point. Working smarter saves labor and costs by streamlining the process. Instead of following an “A-B-C” format, see where you can combine tasks together. Note: Sometimes multitasking is a bad idea. More on this in a few minutes. However, when and where possible, combining tasks that follow a similar format can save you time and energy, making you more productive without working yourself to exhaustion.

      4) Working hard saps motivation, confidence, and desire to continue.

      How many times have you worked at an intensely physical job and come home at night demoralized, exhausted, and too strung out to care about little Johnny setting the cat on fire? It’s not a good feeling, and this feeling begets feelings of inadequacy or of being just another cog in the machine. Finding ways to work smarter can counter this, fostering more positive feelings about your job, your coworkers, and yourself.

      5) Working smarter makes you more valuable.

      Every field of human effort is always looking for ways to get more done with less effort. Saving effort can also save money. Whether you’re a private entrepreneur or working for a huge multinational conglomerate, finding ways to save labor and effort by working smarter makes you a more valuable resources to your employer. This, in turn, makes you feel more confident, more inspired, and more willing to do whatever it takes whenever necessary.

      6) Working smarter requires creativity.

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      creativity_habit

        Many jobs do not value creativity. They want to see results, preferably arrived at by rote methods that are “tried and true.” Because of this, the “Evil Day Job” can be very frustrating, especially for people who thrive in a more creative environment. However, if you can apply creativity to achieve the same goal, you’re more likely to enjoy your job and wish to continue doing it. There are right ways and wrong ways to do everything, but in very few cases is there one absolute RIGHT way. Think about how you can use creativity to increase your performance!

        7) Working hard produces a lower-quality product.

        When you work hard, you end up with a product.

        The end. Period. Move along, folks, nothing more to see here.

        But how do you know the product you’re achieving is the absolute best it can be? The answer is, you don’t. Working smarter gives you more focus and a better ability to focus on the nuances and minutiae of the product. You get more time to sweat the small stuff that, when taken care of, creates a superior product. This, in turn, makes you more valuable and will make you enjoy your job more, because you know you’re producing to the absolute limit of your abilities.

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        8) Working smarter increases self-esteem.

        This should be obvious by now, but it bears spelling out. If you are working smarter than you are hard, creating a better product or end result with less effort, and applying all your faculties to solving the problems of a given task, you’re going to feel better and like you’ve accomplished more. There’s a very simple reason for this: YOU HAVE. This, in turn, will make you a more positive and productive individual who not only has more time and energy, but you will become someone your friends, family, and coworkers want to be around more, so they can learn from you. This leads to even more inspiration. Instead of a vicious cycle, you’ve created a positive one!

        How does working smarter help you? Please leave your answer in the comments!

        More by this author

        J.S. Wayne

        J.S. Wayne is a passionate writer who shares lifestyle inspirations and tips on Lifehack.

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        Last Updated on October 7, 2021

        Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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        Are You Addicted to Productivity?

        “It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

        Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

        “Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

        Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

        Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

        “The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

        This is my mantra:

        I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

        But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

        Addiction to Productivity is Real

        Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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        “A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

        Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

        “It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

        Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

        “A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

        “There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

        “For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

        There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

        Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

        By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

        Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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        Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

        Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

        Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

        The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

        Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

        • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
        • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
        • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
        • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
        • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
        • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
        • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

        The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

        Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

        Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

        1. Set Limits

        Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

        For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

        2. Create a Not-to-Do List

        Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

        3. Be Vulnerable

        By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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        4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

        Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

        Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

        There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

        5. Don’t Be a Copycat

        Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

        That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

        6. Say Yes to Less

        Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

        That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

        Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

        7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

        “In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

        “That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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        • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
        • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
        • Establish realistic goals.
        • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
        • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
        • Hold yourself accountable.
        • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
        • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

        8. Simplify

        Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

        The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

        9. Learn How to Relax

        “Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

        “But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

        “And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

        But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

        • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
        • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
        • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
        • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
        • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
        • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
        • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
        • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
        • Visit a massage therapist.
        • Just breathe.

        “Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

        It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

        Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

        Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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