Work Smarter, Not Harder
By Nicholas Sinclair | September 11, 2020
Being calm can be a challenge especially when there is pressure to be more productive, bring more energy and to be/have/want more. One thing to consider is that effort doesn’t always equate to output and that arbitrarily working harder isn’t always the best way. Often in life, working smarter is much more efficient.
So what does it mean to work smarter? Do I have to be smarter? Does it actually have anything to do with the intellect? The answer is No! You don’t have to be anything more than you already are. Working smarter is about being resourceful and prioritising your time. Working smarter is about accepting your own worth, that is to say; what is worth your time and what is not.
So, what is worth your time? Well, that’s up to you. Working smarter has to do with accepting your own self-worth. That’s how you decide what you should and shouldn’t be doing. If you don’t value yourself, then why would anyone else? If people don’t value your time, then they’re going to give you work that isn’t in alignment with what it is that you want to achieve. So arguably, the first step here is to figure out how to value yourself.
Finding value in yourself is often a journey. People can be harsh in their judgments of others. It can be hard to value yourself if you don’t feel supported. Maybe you didn’t grow up in a supportive household or don’t have people around you that are encouraging. This is a generalisation of course. Some people find it easy to value themselves, regardless of their situation. But others find it very challenging.
In our recent article ‘Showing Up When You’re Not Feeling It’, we dove into managing mental health during this period. Avenues for yourself or others to reach out for help. And how to navigate your studies during this period. Many of those concepts apply to this idea of valuing yourself and your time.
Sitting with yourself. Giving yourself time to think and feel is important in this process. When a lot is going on around you, it can be hard to determine what’s important to you and what’s important to others. Just because someone else wants something done now, doesn’t mean that you need to do it now. There’s always going to be people wanting things from you. Figuring out your goals and objectives helps with daily decisions about what to do. What to focus your energy on. We only have so much energy in a day. Some people have more, some people have less. But comparing yourself to others never really helps. Figure out how much energy you have in a day. Knowing how much you can do is more important.
When you can clearly see what’s important and necessary for you. How much energy/time you actually have. It becomes easier to determine what to prioritize and what not to.
The ‘Work Harder’ mindset is wrought with many roadblocks to true productivity. It comes with a lot of expectations. Expectations of the self. I expect to: ‘Be More!’, ‘Do More!’, ‘Sleep Less!’, ‘Be Productive!’. These expectations are all good and well in the beginning. Many people find motivation in these expectations. But expectations can quickly become harmful. You miss a day. You’re feeling sad. Something unexpected happens. All of a sudden that ‘Productive’ mindset can turn to pain and suffering. Self-talk of not being good enough, not being enough. Often these thoughts lead to worse and worse thoughts. Until you feel so bad about yourself that even getting up in the morning seems almost impossible. Time magazine highlights this well in their conversations with athletes struggling with the ‘Work Harder’ mindset. “If my accomplishments are mine to control, my failures must be entirely my fault, too. Failing must mean I am incapable, and maybe will be forever.” (Simmons, 2019)
Everyone is different and everyone has different goals and objectives. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. Beating yourself up for not hitting objectives isn’t often the solution. If you want to be productive in your work or study, being kind to yourself is important. Take the time to connect with who you are and what you want. Do you ‘urgently’ need to do things for others that don’t align with your objectives? Maybe question whether they’re worth doing. If you miss a workout or submit something late, it’s not the end of the world. Remember also, that the Mentor team is always here to help. The difference between being productive and being stagnant can often be a conversation. It can be asking the right question. Or giving the right answer. What does ‘right’ mean? You might ask. Being ‘right’ is whether it’s in alignment with you and your truth. It’s your life at the end of the day.
References Simmons, R. (2019, May). Why It’s Wrong to Tell Kids That Hard Work Always Pays Off. Retrieved from Time: