The average person grows up hearing that hard work equals success. Common quotes about hard work include, “Nothing worth having comes easy,” “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” and “Keep working hard and you can get anything that you want.” Are these statements correct? Can you really get anything you want simply by busting your tail? Does effort always increase productivity?
Ian Khan, writer for HuffPost Business, doesn’t think so. He says, “Traditionally, working hard is considered to be the cornerstone of achievement. You work hard at something, burn midnight oil, sweat and out run everyone else around you, to reach your goal…I completely am a fan of this thought, yet so many us miserably fail at achieving our goal even after working so hard at it.” We’ve all experienced this. That’s why professionals should learn to not only work hard, but work smart.
What Does “Working Smart” Look Like?
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to consistently work smart. All you need is a 5-minute education about what working smart looks like.
When one is working smart, not just hard, he or she…
- Takes breaks seriously – Did you know that the human brain only has the capacity to stay focused for about 90 minutes? After that, it needs to rest for at least 15 minutes. (No wonder people get so distracted at work. Their brains are tired!) Smart workers understand that they are only human and take breaks seriously. Jeff Haden, contributing editor to Inc., says, “For some people, 15- to 20-minute breaks might be tough to pull off, but taking short breaks throughout the day can still help you to refresh your mind and reset your attention span.”
- Works from different physical locations – A surefire way to get a lot more done in less time with less effort is to work from different physical locations. Maybe you can’t leave your office building, but can you take your laptop to your company’s coffee shop and work for an hour or two? Physically moving work zones opens up creativity channels and increases productivity. Try it!
- Schedules time for communicating via technology – If you let it, communicating through email and texting will consume your work time. Work smarter by refusing to let this happen. The professionals at Best Masters Degrees put together an amazing infographic that is jam packed with tips for working smarter rather than harder. It says, “Don’t allow your communication methods to dictate what you get done in a day. Set certain periods of time throughout the day (say, three 30-minute periods) to tackle your email, cellphone and instant messaging.”
- Avoids procrastination like the disease it is – There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that quells productivity as severely as procrastination. The problem is it’s just so difficult to avoid. Nevertheless, smart workers tackle it head-on. The infographic mentioned above states, “If you’ve got a particularly challenging issue or project you always seem to put off, devote 30 to 60 minutes a day to that problem and that problem only. If you find yourself with an excuse not to do it, simply repeat, ‘do it now.’”
- Makes full use of an LMS – Learning management systems (LMSs) are built to maximize productivity. Fully utilizing an LMS is the epitome of working smarter, not harder. If your company has implemented an eLearning system, take every measure to ensure you know how to use it. This will benefit you immensely. If you don’t have an eLearning system at your disposal, encourage your employer to invest in one.
A learning management system like TOPYX helps people work smarter by increasing collaboration and access to valuable, work related information. Discover what it feels like to work smarter.
Are you a hard worker or a smart worker? The best employees are both. The beauty of being a smart worker first and foremost, though, is that it saves you a lot of hard work.