3 Simple things to help you make smart choices | Hard work vs smart work

Aarti Sharma
4 min readMay 3, 2021
Photo by Jennifer Lim-Tamkican on Unsplash

“If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.” — Abraham Lincoln.

As children, we are told, “hard work is the key to success”. As we grow up, we hear, “work smart, not hard”.

But what is the difference between the two?

How can we do smart work?

Is one better than the other? Or is it a combination of two that pays off?

If such questions have ever troubled you, your search for answers ends right here. Read on to know the difference between hard work and smart work, and which is better.

In the later part, we talk about the 3 key differences to recognize if you are working smart or just desperately working with no direction.

Hard Work and Smart Work: The difference

Hard work is when you put in a lot of effort, it’s about doing whatever it takes.

While smart work is all about achieving maximum results with minimum efforts. It is based on strategic planning to execute a given task.

Let’s look at an example to understand this better:

You have to go to a friend’s party but you do not know the way.

One way is you go out and try to find the way yourself by asking the pedestrians or you have the second option, to take the help of google maps.

The first method demands more effort and is time-consuming while the second one is more efficient and easier. In the first case, you put the effort but without planning, this is hard work.

But in the second case, you just made use of technology to make your work easier, this is smart work.

Now, you put the effort in both cases. You may even achieve the results in both cases

But they’ll be more accurate and quick in the second. That, my friend, is the difference between hard work and smart work.

When you work smart, you use your brain and think if the same or better results can be achieved through an alternate method.

Photo by Tamas Tuzes-Katai on Unsplash

Now the question is, how do we work smart? Do one have to be born a genius to do smart work?

Well, not really, there are just some simple things to take care of in your daily life. And it’ll save you from putting your efforts relentlessly in the wrong direction.

These tips are based on ideas taken from the book “The Effective Executive” by Peter Drucker.

There are two alternatives in each of these, and in our daily life, we choose one of the two.

If we make a smart choice here, not only our productivity will increase, it’ll save a lot of time and effort too. Here we go:

New Vs Old Ways

Technology is an amazing tool. It can make your work a lot easier in multiple aspects.

Think of business, it is far more profitable to have a digital presence for your business and using social media platforms to run ads.

It is smart to leverage technology for your benefit.

Busy Vs Productive

Understand when you are being productive vs when you are just busy.

Productive is when you are doing the things that are important for your growth or your business

Busy is when you are doing the work that could have been delegated or even avoided.

Plan your day accordingly and focus on:

  • Deep work
  • Teamwork
  • Focus Work

So for smart work, focus on one thing at a time without any distraction.

Important Vs Urgent

For this, look at the bigger picture and focus on only important things.

Focusing is about saying no, no to less important things.

You do not have to do anything and everything that comes your way. You have a vision for yourself and you know what is to be done to achieve that, do only those tasks.

In the words of Zig Ziglar,

“Lack of direction, not lack of time is the problem.”

And smart work is nothing but hard work done in the right direction.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash