Career Advices

Why Don’t Work Hard Work Smart Should Be Your Mantra

You may think your boss is impressed when you and your co-workers work hard. But you can impress the boss even more, as well as your team and your company. Don’t work hard – work smart!

Understanding working hard and working smart and what happens with each is the fastest way to showing your boss that starting early, working late, and throwing more time at the job isn’t the best use of time and resources.

Read on to see why don’t work hard work smart should be your mantra.

Detriments of Working Too Hard

Many people (bosses included) equate hard work with working long hours, coming in early, staying late, working through lunch, coming in on weekends. This willingness to put in more time is often seen as a strong work ethic. In reality, working longer hours doesn’t automatically equate to getting more done, or producing better quality results. It can actually be detrimental to your health and wellbeing, which results in poorer productivity and results.

Mental Health – Kathleen Doheny, writing for WebMD, says studies show that putting in long work hours raises the risk of not only diabetes, abnormal heart rhythm, heart disease and stroke, but also psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression. PhD psychologist Bryan Robinson says work can grip you and take over your life, with debilitating effects similar to addiction. When you can’t turn off from work, it can lead to health and relationship issues.

Heart Health – How high are the risks of working hard with long hours? A recent French study of almost 150,000 participants showed a 29% greater risk of stroke from working ten hours or more for 50 days a year – not even full time, just one fifth of your annual work hours. An even bigger study of more than 600,000 found similar results. Disruption of sleep, higher incident of accidents, mental health issues, poor work-life balance, lower work productivity and job satisfaction are other difficulties stemming from working long hours associated with “working harder.”

How to Work Smart

Most people can make the extra effort to work more hours and appear to be busy and productive. But putting in long hours is not the same thing as working smarter, being more productive, or getting better quality from the same efforts as someone who is working a normal work week. Working smarter means using techniques and tools that help you achieve more and complete tasks with less time and effort, and get better results and quality.

Time management and productivity strategies and tools help you get more out of the work hours and efforts you expend, creating better quality and quantity results. Working smarter means work efficiency, getting better output with less input. Rather than throwing more time at your work day or tasks and never taking breaks, using smart work habits is a better way to improve your productivity. Rather than accomplishing more by working more hours, Stanford University economist John Pencavel found that working more than 50 hours a week actually decreases productivity.

So putting in those extra hours may actually be time wasted rather than time achieving more goals or completing more tasks. Consider these strategies for why don’t work hard work smart should be your mantra:

Use the Rule of 3 – Quality Magazine editor Darryl Selund explains that Aristotle’s observation that it’s easier to remember things in 3’s, leading to the “rule of 3” for productivity. Focus on three key goals each day instead of trying to tackle a long to-do list, and only move on to other items when you’ve completed the first three. Focus on these three tasks only until they are done, allotting specific time for them or scheduling them into your day.

Time management book Getting Results the Agile Way author J.D. Meier explains the Rule of 3 productivity technique this way:

  1. Write down the three things you want to accomplish today.
  2. Follow that with the three things you want to accomplish this week.
  3. Write down three things you want to accomplish this year.

This lets you work deliberately not reactively, with focus and intention, and helps keep you on track and avoid getting overwhelmed. Meier recommends reflecting on your three objectives at the end of each day, reviewing how you completed them and if you achieved good outcomes or not.

Disengage from Multi-tasking –  If you are used to working on several things at a time, stop and realign your work habits to single-tasking, focusing on an important task completely until it’s done. Take short refresher breaks if needed but don’t pick up additional tasks in between. Let yourself enjoy the rewards of completing something before moving on to another item.

Ryder Carroll, creator of the Bullet Journal, says being busy is not the same as being productive. Researchers have found brain differences in those who multitask with laptops, mobile phones, and other devices, leading poor attention, depression, and anxiety, which all hinder rather than help productivity.

Make Yourself Take a Break – Focus exclusively on one of your top three until it’s complete, but that doesn’t mean burning yourself out on it. Take regular refresher breaks to get up and walk a bit or get some fresh air, rest your eyes, or get a drink. MIT Sloan researcher Bob Pozen recommends taking a break every 75 to 90 minutes, saying it’s the amount of time most college classes are and the amount of time professional musicians practice, getting the best results.

The type of break matters for productivity. Take breaks that renew your mental and physical energy, such as talking to a friend or trusted colleague, meditating, taking a short nap, or some form of exercise, especially in the afternoon. Anything that lets you mentally disengage from the work and refreshes rather than depletes you improves productivity.

Related Article: How to Have More Time to Get It All Done, Every Day

Tools for Working Smart

Technology is rapidly evolving to make our lives easier, and that includes working smarter not harder. Cut through the distraction and clutter of competing work tasks and devices with productivity apps. Consider using one of these apps if you are feeling like you want to get more done, save more time, or complete important objectives that never seem to get done.


How much time do you spend browsing the Web for news, hobbies, interests, shopping, and your other myriad interests? Tired of bookmarking and sharing content that you don’t want to lose track of or forget about? Stop cluttering your browser and use the Pocket app to keep all your favorite content finds together in one easy to access place.

Pocket lets you compile it all into a reading list where you can enjoy all your saved content on or offline with an east to use interface. It’s space free from distractions where you can enjoy content without all the other “shiny sparkly things” getting in the way. Bonus: Pocket curators mine the Internet also and present a daily newsletter for you to peruse even more great internet treasure.


Getting tired of the paper tiger? Hate trying to figure out how to manage hard copies, email, and digital copies? If you don’t always have a scanner handy, it can get cumbersome to lug your documents somewhere to get them scanned and sent off safely.

Enter Camscanner, an app that puts a mobile scanner in your hand as close as your mobile phone. It has great features like auto edge cropping that detects document edges and crops the image for best results, filter and light to clear up your scanned copies, and an OCR feature to convert images to text. Camscammer lets you share documents and sync data with your other devices for speedy scanning and easy access to high quality images and PDFs. No more wasting time between paper and digital and delivery with this app that does it all quickly and easily.


Need a break from screens to focus on an important work project or spend quality time with your family? The Forest app is just for that. Let this app help you put down your smart phone, iPad, laptop, and any other device that occupies a good portion of your time and life. Stop scrolling Facebook while someone is talking to you or checking emails while talking on the phone. 

When you have something that you need to focus on, use Forest to “plant a tree” that grows over the amount of time you set as long as you stay in the app and off your other devices. Leave the Forest app, and your tree dies. This is a digital exercise, but Forest plants real trees too, as a partner with Trees for the Future, making it a truly green app!

Related Article:

No Comments

    Leave a Reply