Smart work pays. Hard work does too

Some time ago, I had a WhatsApp conversation with a colleague on the merits of hard work vs smart work. Which is more likely to lead an individual to wealth? Hard work and smart work are terms that are quite difficult to define. When people say hard work, are they referring to back-breaking labour or to the act of working 8 hours a day? Similarly, what does smart work mean. I know someone who considers smart work to be only work done by Programmers. Going by his definition, most of us don’t do smart work. Which of the two kinds of work do you need to succeed?

For the purpose of this week’s post, I will define hard work as any task you do that will require more than two hours of focused work to get done. If you work a regular 8-hour job, that task will take up 25% of your work time for the day. Smart work, on the other hand, is any task that will usually be performed by the people we refer to as “Knowledge workers.” These tasks require some level of education and/or degree of training and can’t be routinely performed by just anyone.

In my opinion, in order to succeed at what you do, you need to cultivate a mindset for doing both hard and smart work. One of my responses to the whatsapp conversation I mentioned earlier is shown below:

From a productivity perspective, people are more likely to trust someone who can complete tasks on time and work within established timelines. It doesn’t matter how smart your role is, if you don’t have the discipline to put in the needed hours to produce results. That being said, most people are not motivated by simple repetitive tasks. I believe the most productive workers are productive because they see value in what they do. Their work motivates them because they see themselves as contributing towards the achievement of a goal.

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