What’s the Living Thing That Works the Hardest on the Planet? The Donkey! Guess Which One’s Considered the Dumbest?
Working smart not hard is one of the catchphrases of our generation, but why is hard work so defiled by everyone since the Boomers? The truth is that hard work doesn’t necessarily lead to success, and sometimes it can even be counterproductive.
We’re heading into the holiday season, and you’re bound to be fielding tons of disapproving comments about your “alternative” outlook on career building. So, if you need some solid ammunition to explain to your family why you think the traditional definition of hard work isn’t always smart, then we have your back. It’s a little more complicated than “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Here is a list of 15 reasons why working hard is dumb.
If dragging through a 15 items long listicle is a lot of hard work, here’s the smart way out, switch to the YouTube upload:
With that smart move made, let’s find out the first reason why hard work is foolish!
Hard Work Means You Aren’t Using the Right Tools for the Easy Stuff
We live in a generation of short cuts, apps and system hacks. There is always an easier, more efficient way to do things, and it’s important to keep adapting and advancing your tech skills to keep up to speed with the rate that your colleagues or competition will be delivering the same work.
Everything from proofreading to automating your email can save you time and take the slog out of your job. There is no need to personally sub-edit your monthly reports when there are plenty of AI tools that will do it better than most humans can.
Synchronised scheduling, virtual meetings and social media dashboards all save you time and money and keep your productive time focused on the specialised stuff that earns you money rather than admin.
Avoid the Lure of Hyper-Productivity
Nothing depletes productivity like multi-tasking. While we all like to think we can flit between LOL-ing at a friend’s Instagram story, answer an email and then dive right back into a budget review… we can’t!
Sum doesn’t equal the parts when it comes to multi-tasking. Tasks that would have taken a few minutes when done in isolation can take up to an hour when you do them in parts. Each time you break away from one task, it takes time to switch between programmes or equipment, move positions plus in between you get distracted by a post of a cute dog, so you stop again.
Create a daily diary that allows you to assign your important tasks to time slots. Then stick to it and give yourself the satisfaction of crossing it off when it’s done. That’s right, a nice sexy black marker line right through the completed task. Nothing makes a job more satisfying than that, are we right?
Working Hard Isn’t Enough to Make You Succeed
If hard work was the solution to getting rich, then the world’s miners, factory workers and cleaners would all be billionaires. Sadly, working hard at the right things that help you maximize your time and get paid more than a living wage is what leads to financial success. And jobs with a clear path to progress in responsibility are how you move income brackets.
Hard work alone won’t get you to the penthouse apartment. There is more than that to the hustle. Check out 15 Things Successful People Do in their 20s for some inspiration.
All Work and No Play
Okay, so there is some truth to the “Dull Jack’ reference, but it is more than Jack just being a terrible dinner conversation. It has never been more important that this generation to display a well-rounded lifestyle. A lifestyle is not only career satisfaction and personal growth, but a family life, an active and travel lifestyle and also staying up to date with technology advancements. Basically, a lot is expected of us.
But perhaps it isn’t a bad thing, because it does force this generation to live while we’re alive, and not just grind away and take our first break at 65 when we retire. Taking breaks from work, and having dedicated time off and activities not tied to work, keep us relevant in the workplace. It gives us perspective and fresh insight that often benefits our work in the long run.
Even if a documentary on Octopuses doesn’t have a direct link to your current work, it is a good reference to drop, to sound in the know with pop-culture interests. And this does wonders for networking with peers, and ya’all know how we feel about the importance of networking!
Nothing Good Came Out of Burn-Out
Working to the point of sheer exhaustion is just about the dumbest thing you can do. Cramming all nighters all weekend just to make an impression on Monday is just unwise. For the most part you will give such a substandard presentation come Monday if you had no sleep, that your hard work will be completely overlooked.
Alternatively, if you have to then take the next 3 days off to recover from the exhaustion or are constantly needing sick-leave because you’re borderline burnt out, then your hard work is a waste of time.
You need to find a balance and work at a sustainable pace that won’t compromise your health or mental wellness. Industries like film and television are famous for burning out top talent way before they have peaked, and then swiftly moving onto the next hot property.
If you don’t want to be a one-hit wonder in your career then don’t put all your energy eggs into one basket, pace yourself and look after your greatest asset – you! No one wants burnout for Christmas!
Don’t Work Hard Because of Boredom
They say that “idle hands are the devils play fellow”, but that doesn’t mean that if you stop working you’ll join the dark side. Nor will you fall apart. Be sure to build other areas of growth and stimulation into your life besides work. If the only place you feel you learn is in your job then it’s time to get a hobby or play a sport or take up some interesting reading.
Your brain shouldn’t switch off when you clock out of work, nor should it constantly be ticking on with work thoughts. Try immersing yourself in something like a crossword, or a great podcast when you are done working, so you can help your brain switch gears and still remain in an inspired space.
Learning or thinking outside of the “money earning” role recharges you and stimulates new ideas that can flourish like things do when they aren’t for anything more than a flight of fantasy. And don’t all the best ideas start as a “flight of fantasy” anyway?
There Is No Room for Personal Growth in Hard Work
If all you ever do is work to earn money or advance in your career then you’re letting your role determine your actions and who you are. You’re basically turning yourself to be a total cog in a machine, not an ever growing and spiritually rich being.
Switching to working smart rather than working hard will allow for some space to consider your personal growth too. That means managing stress better, setting goals and actually achieving them, and increasing you emotional intelligence too.
If you need to master your mind sign up for “Mind Mastery: our meditation course. Find out more at alux.com/mindmastery
There Is No Room for Career Improvement in Hard Work
In all this hard work you will hardly find time to stop and smell the roses. We don’t just mean take time off, but also to take note of where you are, where others are in relation, and if you are really heading in the direction you wanted to. This gives you time to recalibrate if you have gone off course, or set a new plan if your goals have changed.
Taking stock of a situation helps you work out whether the time you are exchanging for salary is worth it. Or if your time could be better used differently. The problem with just keeping on working hard is that we don’t give ourselves space to assess, and you can get stuck on the hamster wheel forever and go nowhere.
Hard Work Leads to Expensive Living
Is your hard work costing you money? Because of your crazy workload, are you ending up spending more than you would if you had more time to yourself? Sometimes when you step back from hard work you might realise you are earning no more than if you had a more junior job with fewer hours and less responsibility.
But how can this be, you ask, because your salary is clearly higher than a junior position?
Well ponder the time before you worked 12 hour days if you will.
The time before you needed a private child carer to collect your children from school, bath and put them to bed. Or when you had time to walk your own dog instead of pay a dog-walker to do it for you. Do you end up taking Uber home from work because you’re just too exhausted to take the train? Or remember when you cooked your own meals rather than bought take out every night?
Well there comes a tipping point when your high-stress and hardworking ends up costing you money and your take home is far less than you thought.
Hard Work Can Make You Lose Focus and Not Be Able to Specialize
Jack of all trades, master of none, we all know the saying. And while some amount of general knowledge is certainly a good thing, top paying jobs are all specialist. Even if you start a business you will do better to offer defined and unique services and products than a grey area of sub-standard offerings.
When all you do is graft on and on, you don’t have time or energy to be the best in the field. Sure you might have the practice of hours under your belt, but you won’t have the time to retrain yourself, or update your skills, or stay on top of leading trends of technology in your field.
You’ll be head down and working while your competition passes you by, or worse, you’re overlooked for a promotion because you were too busy working on your current position to skill yourself up for it.
Hard Work Isn’t Always Linked to Good Planning
If you want to get to a goal sooner you need to have an action plan. Back to that hamster wheel analogy, often hard work is more putting one foot in front of the other to keep from flying off than it is about planning the most direct route to the goal.
When you plan, you can cut out a lot of the slog, it gives you time to outsource some work, or delegate tasks that you shouldn’t be spending your valuable time on. When you plan, you maximise your productivity, so your hard work means good results. Without planning working hard can just mean hard work.
Hard Work Is Sometimes Just Busy Work
As much we love and respect administrative workers, there is a ceiling on the type of advancement and salary you can demand for this type of work. Admin is always going to cost a company money, not bring money in. Sure, if done well, it can save your company money, but we’re not talking about that.
We all know that person in the office that insists that they are always so “swamped”, and yet you’re not 100% sure what they are actually contributing to the company’s bottom line. That hard work that they are slaving away at can often just be “busy work”, filing and refilling, or form filling and organising. But there are sometimes faster and more efficient modern ways of incorporating that work in to your normal workflow without making it into an entire job description.
Make sure that if you are working hard you are contributing in valuable work. The best way to job security is to have value to your company or client, try to avoid offering a service that might be able to be automated or digitised away.
Working Hard Isn’t Unique – Everyone Can Work Hard
It’s not enough to think that your greatest asset to your company is that you are a hard worker. You need to offer a more unique role than that. Hard work is replaceable. Innovative or creative ideas, or a unique skill are not as easily replaced.
Don’t be one of a million hard workers, be one in a million with your experience and skills.
Success Isn’t About How Much You Put in – but What You Get Out
The measure of success isn’t how many hours you spent at the office today. Your boss ultimately wouldn’t be concerned about how much time you spent in front of your computer it they are seeing the results on their bottom line.
Instead of a mindset of how much you can put in, you should be driven by the results you can get out. Maximising your output while decreasing your input is the definition of mastering a task. Focus on the driving up your results and reducing your workload in every way possible.
Working Hard Doesn’t Prioritize
The greatest crime on the rap-sheet of hard work is that in the chaos of unfocussed busy work we often fail to prioritise what matters. This leads to spending 80% of our time and energy on 20% of our income generating. With this method you won’t be maximising your productivity or profit. The converse is that you are spending 20% of your energy on the other 80% of your work. To get better results you need to flip what you work hard on.
Stop and analyse your best and most reliable income streams. Where would you earn 80% of your income or results if you spent most of your time? Right now it’s more likely that you are only focussing 20% of your energy there. But to boost your productivity if you spend more focus on that type of fruitful work, then surely you would immediately see better results.
Don’t work hard equally at everything, it’s a recipe for mediocrity, be sure you are spending your time and energy wisely in what returns the best results.
What is something you worked hard at that you wish you had rather worked smart at?