I will often hear people say “I worked so hard today!” Usually it is someone who has put in a long day at the office. To me, this is only worthwhile if that person has actually accomplished something. There is a big difference between working hard and working intelligently.
What would you say if you got a large amount of work done in under an hour? Would you still think you worked “hard?” Probably not. In reality, you were productive. For example: Yesterday I spent 3 hours straight working on this website trying to tweak code and research how to do something like change a font color and have made no visible difference and wound up frustrated. On another occasion, I worked for about 45 minutes and installed a wonderful new advertising program, updated with a new entry, and changed the layout. I accomplished a lot more in that 45 minutes than the 3 hours of “hard work.”
Did I work harder the first time than the second? No. I just worked longer. There is a huge difference.
“Working hard” does not guarantee effective results any more than hammering a nail into a random spot on the wall to hang a picture from does. It is important to measure the dimensions of the frame, the dimensions of the room and select a good picture first. You would never just start hammering without these things in mind first. Planning is important.
But overdoing it is also a detriment! There is no need, for example, to research the history of nails when all you need to do is hang a picture. I don’t know jack about nails. Chances are, neither do you, and it doesn’t matter. If you spend 8 hours reading about the merits of using a 5 1/4 inch split-end nail versus a 5 1/2 inch regular nail, you are just wasting time. Though I suppose you could say at the end of the day, “Boy, I worked hard today!”
So what is the moral of the story here? Productivity is a balancing act. Spending time on unimportant tasks is probably just as bad as ineffective planning. Finding the middle ground may be the key to working with intelligence. These principals can be applied to other areas of your life.
Disappearing Act: How To Make Yourself Less Available at WorkJanuary 28th, 2013
How to Set Up an Effective Home OfficeJanuary 22nd, 2013
The Greatest Predictor of SuccessJune 1st, 2010
How to Stop Compulsive Web SurfingApril 27th, 2010