On working smart and working hard

If you Google the words “working hard vs working smart” you will see images of hard workers being portrayed as frustrated or stupid whereas smart workers are seen as… well, smart.

Why is that?

This is mainly due to the rise of lifestyle entrepreneurship made popular by best selling books such as the Four Hour Work Week (great book btw).

Why wouldn’t you want do more in less time right?

Now, if you are the type of person whose main concern is to get work done so that you can enjoy your “me time” and have a social life, then the antidote of working smart was created exactly for you.

However, if you strive to be a CEO or founder of a successful startup one day, you should view the idea of working smart with an additional caveat – working hard as well.

The debate about working hard and working smart is getting out of hand.

The real question to be posed is “Why not both?”

As mentioned earlier, being able to work smart seems to confer some form of social validation. Just working hard now means you haven’t taken the time (nor brains) to figure out a more effective way to get stuff done.

I personally struggled with this for a long time thinking it is either working smart or working hard.

But the longer you work in the “real world”, and not the world peddled by most self-help and productivity gurus, you soon begin to realize that hard friggin’ work is equally if not more important than smart work.

Don’t be fooled that by just working smart alone that you are able to get to the top – you can’t.

Working smart often implies getting away with less and doing the Minimum Effective Dose (so to speak), as in doing just enough to get by and not much else. When in actually fact, doing what’s more than needed is what that is going to separate you from the others.

Anyone can be lazy once the needed work is done, but few are willing to do that a little more extra to make their minimum needed work shine like a piece of art.

You learn to work smart so that you can get creating a masterpiece faster, not to producing mediocre work at scale.

So where does hard work come in?

With hard work, it looks like [SMART WORK] + [HARD WORK] = create masterpieces at scale.

Considering the fact that top CEOs have reported an average wakeup time of 6:15 a.m., with many rising before 5, and most worked at least two hours at home after dinner. In some cases, they work 18-hour workdays. Many of these industry leaders credit their success to working while others aren’t.

As Michael Moroney said in his piece on the matter:

“If we want to be successful, we shouldn’t be content to simply work smarter. The most successful people work smart, but they also work exceptionally hard. They maintain the same level of persistence and drive while learning ways to do things more efficiently.

We don’t all have to aspire to be CEOs, but for those of us that do, finding more effective ways to do things is only half the battle….

Young professionals and budding entrepreneurs must work smarter, harder, longer and better — because their competition already is.”

How to Be Productive: Eliminate Distractions

SH*T. IT’S 5 O’CLOCK ALREADY?!

 

I hate it when this happens.

 

You were researching for just one article. But you end up reading 99 other unrelated ones.

If you come across cat videos… GAME OVER.

 

You say to yourself:

“You know what, I need a break anyways.”

That break resulted in nothing important getting done during the day.

Then you say:

“Actually, it ain’t too bad. I can always get a bunch of Red Bulls and power through it tonight!”

*checks in at 9pm* watching videos

*checks in at 11pm*
“You know what I’m tired, time to go to bed. I need sleep in order to do REALLY GOOD work.
I will wake up at 4am if I have to!”

But you snooze and end up waking up at the same hour every other day that gives you just enough time to get ready and not be late for work.

 

And the worst part?

THIS HAPPENS ALMOST ALL THE TIME.

 

All this pasar malam negotiation with yourself would stop and can stop if you just put in the work when you are supposed to work.

In other words, keep your focus during office hours so you don’t need to think about work once you clock out.

 

Focus is a muscle. It gets stronger the more you use it.

But this being the introduction into productivity will be talking about creating an environment that makes focus all the more easier – that is to Eliminate Distractions.

 

 Eliminate Distractions

– For your laptop (I’m presuming you are using Chrome like the other 90% of people)

Install the following extensions:

  1. Block Site
  2. Facebook Feed Eradicator
  3. DF YouTube
  4. Pocket

 

  • Block Site

First things first, identify what are the no. 1 time sucking website?

For me, it’s YouTube.

Insert in just one website for now and make sure you can’t access it for a period of time.

I know that I’m at my peak in the morning.

So I set my active hours to 8am to 12pm everyday.

That way I’m not allowed to access the site no matter what during those times.

 

Once you get comfortable with the blocking, add more and more time wasters into the tool.

 

  • Facebook Feed Eradicator

As much as I rather not use Facebook entirely, I still need to as part of my job to contact certain media outlets.

What this tool does is that it removes the major distraction – the news feed and replaces with an inspirational quote.

 

  • DF YouTube

I use this tool even if I’m not working.

It gives you the option to block out what you know will distract you – the recommended section.

I personally block out everything except my feed for my subscriptions which are narrowed to just 10 channels.

I check them every morning and watch them on my way to work.

You can see what I am subscribed to here.

 

  • Pocket

You need to download this app on your smartphone as well. I repeat – you NEED to.

This app essentially solved my “bookmarked – read-it-later” problem.

If you are a productivity and personal growth nut like me, you would bookmark ANY article that you deem is valuable.

But then it ends up in a folder or your bookmarks bar alongside all the random shit you have bookmarked like the next book to buy or the next movie to watch.

So what this app does is – whenever you come across a particular blog posts that you know is gold, you Pocket it and it saves a barebone version of it without the sidebars and ads – JUST THE GOOD STUFF for reading on your phone.

Just turn on your WiFi or data and download the saved files and read from there.

P.S. this technique helps you fill up your time especially when you and your other half goes shopping. (instead of randomly scrolling through your Instagram and Facebook, I mean)

 

Side note: Check your e-mail as little as possible. Batch your sessions to at most 3 times a day.
I have found sweet spot to be at 7.30am (since I get my groove on at 8am), 11.30am (before lunch) and 4.30pm (before leaving).

 

 

– For your phone

All those extensions may still not be enough if your smartphone buzzes harder than a bee beatboxing (?)

  1.  Turn off all push notifications except Messenger, Whatsapp, Call or Text.

Side note: It’s okay to turn off your phone completely when doing heavy concentration work if you know that there is no one who would call you first in an emergency.

If there is someone who would ONLY rely on you in an emergency and you are the best in position to help them, keep your phone on.

Why turn off push notifications and not messenging apps?

BECAUSE STATUS UPDATES CAN WAIT. COMMENTS CAN WAIT.

Plus, if it’s really urgent and the person contacting you is close enough to know your number, they would know that calling you or texting you is the best choice.

 

 

– Your desk

Your work station is where you spend most of your time at.

For this I recommend the Only In Use Method, which is:

  1. Clear your desk completely (place the rest on the floor or in your bag or in the cupboard)
  2. Use your desk as usual (only putting what you need on your desk to do your work)
  3. That’s it.

You would be surprised how much stuff you thought you need to work didn’t need to there.

The photos, the papers and the stationary.

When your desk is as clear as can be, your mind has nothing to focus on besides your laptop.