Working Hard and Working Smart: Is it Impossible to Do Both?

When it comes to work, there is a big debate on whether to work hard or to work smart. Working hard is the notion that our parents believe in. This generation believes in doing overtime and staying until late at the office to do more and more work. As a result, it disrupts their work-life balance.

The new generation, however, believes in what is called working smart. They put great emphasis in working more effectively and having more ‘me’ time, relaxing with family and friends and treating work as the 8-hour-rule only. Once they have clocked out, work is invisible to them.

working hard vs working smart

While both parties have their own pros and cons, we begin to question, “Why does it have to be one or the other? Can’t we work both hard and smart to achieve our career goals?”

Turns out, we can. Here are three things about how working hard and smart look like:

1.     It’s all about balance.

Working hard and smart is not about keying the minimal hours, increasing productivity and getting more work in return. Working hard and smart is all about balance. Employees must know their own limits and if they are exhausted, it is okay to have a break and come back to the project refreshed the first thing in the morning. It doesn’t mean they don’t work hard. They work smart, as usually light-bulb moment comes with a fresh mind.

2.     It’s all about being strategic.

People who work hard are busy because they are overwhelmed with the tasks that are on their plates. They have five different projects with tight deadlines and while they are able to finish all five the projects, only half the effort is given. People who work smart and hard know how to set goals, prioritise the workload and continuously figure out better ways to handle projects.

3.     It’s all about working on the right things.

People who work hard on the wrong things are not going to be successful. People who work smart on the wrong things are not going to be successful either. The key is to know which work needs 110% of effort, and not just overtire oneself with a less important workload.

Want to learn more about how to become better at your career? Check out the Institute of Management courses.