We all know that person, and maybe you are that person – someone that shows up to work an hour before everyone else, and makes sure they are the last one to leave each day. They strive to prove that they are the hardest worker the company has ever seen, so they make a point to put in more hours than everyone around them, even if that means they are wasting a lot of that time on Facebook or Buzzfeed. They rationalize that if they are in the office the most, they have to be the best worker. Right? Wrong.
Being a good worker has nothing to do with the hours you put in, but rather, the value of the work you put in your hours. The person working from 7am-6pm each day may think that they are the best, hardest worker around, but in all honesty, the person working a normal shift or (gasp) even less than 8 daily hours is likely doing a better job because they are working smarter.
Working hard and working smart are two different concepts. When you work hard, you are working with the goal of being the best. When you work smart, you work toward the goal of doing your best. Working hard often pushes us to our limits, while working smart allows us to get what we need done completed within a reasonable amount of time and effort. Yes, you can work smart while working hard, but not all hard work is smart.
But how do you transition from constant hard work to consistent smart work?
Keep a running list of all the projects you have going each day. From that list, always be sure to complete the most time consuming first, so that you don’t put off any necessary work to the last minute. When you get your big tasks done early, not only will you beat deadlines and look great to your employer, but you will have more time to relax and focus on smaller details that can push your work brilliantly over the top.
Face it, when you stare at a computer screen for 9 hours straight, you aren’t doing your best work. Instead of painfully pulling inspiration out of thin air, take regular breaks where you don’t think about your work or anything related to your job. Take a walk, go to lunch, or even read a book. Chances are, your best ideas will strike in those peaceful moments.
Know Your Worth
No one wants to be working from sun up to sun down, and often, our personal and professional lives can’t balance with that kind of commitment. Know that you don’t have to check your emails 12 times a night, or be glued to your reports all weekend. You deserve time away from your desk, so make sure you take it. Not to mention, this time away will leave you feeling refreshed once the next work day comes along, leading you to a better mindset and better work overall.
What are your tips for working smart?