Hard Work vs. Smart Work: The Ideal Way to Work

Hard Work vs. Smart Work: The Ideal Way to Work

Some people work hard. Others work smart. Let us know the RIGHT way.

Keyur Kumbhare

Hard Work vs. Smart Work

Do you often find yourself confused between the two?

What works better?

What brings success quicker?

How to get practical results using the correct method?

In this fast-paced world where people are constantly bombarded with an unrealistic amount of work, the majority of them either return home late and exhausted, or put in extra hours at home to get work done.

But it's good, right?

There are chances they might get promoted.

Let's assume that is true. They get a promotion and a pay raise. What next? They get bombarded with more work.

More stress, more exhaustion.

This keeps on happening and most of your life gets consumed in it.

But I'm passionate about what I do. Hard work pays off. So, shouldn't I do more of it?

You should, but most likely you are doing it the other way.

Let's say you love writing. You would obviously not want to spend 8 hours writing a piece of content if the same can be done in 3 hours. Instead, you would want to write something else in the time saved.

No matter what position you are in, you need to find a way to work smart so that you can get more done in less time.

Should I ditch hard work and start working smartly instead?

Not yet. There's more to the story.

Before we reach the final conclusion, let's dive in to know the exact difference between the two.

Hard Work vs. Smart Work: The Difference

Hard Work.

The phrase explains itself. Hard work is the process of continuously working on something that you strongly desire or need. Most people have this misconception of hard work that if they put in more number of hours, the better they will get at something. It is not completely wrong.

But here's the catch.

There are a lot of other factors that come into picture when you are working towards achieving something. The time you put into it is just one of them.

What are the other factors then?

You'll know as you read further.

Smart Work.

Again, the phrase speaks for itself. The word 'smart' makes it sound as if there's something extraordinary to it.

And there is.

Apart from the time you put in, smart work takes other factors into consideration as well. Some of those factors are:

  • Your prior knowledge on the topic
  • How you utilize the resources that you already have
  • The quality of resources that you manage to find by yourself
  • The quality and knowledge of the people you know
  • The quality and knowledge of the people you manage to find
  • The strategies that you follow

And much more...

All in all, when you work smart, you focus on strategizing, taking advice from the right people, and finding the best possible resources, whereas when you work hard, you just work, work, and work aiming to put in as much time as possible.

But are there any actual benefits of smart work?

Yes, a lot.

Why is Smart Work so Important?

1. It gives you direction

When you work smartly, you make a proper strategy before actually initiating the task you want to finish or the skill you want to learn. When you give some time into planning how to do something efficiently and follow it, you are more likely to finish it successfully.

2. It gives you ideas

When you are in the phase of figuring out how to learn a particular skill or what kind of businesses to start, you will get a lot of useful ideas. Majority of people think of planning as a waste of time. Sure it is useful only when followed, but having a plan is important. If you keep working hard blindly without any plan, your learning process can be really slow and in some cases, even after a long time, you might fail to learn the skill just because you did not make a plan.

3. It saves you time

When you have a strategy on how to approach your goal, the time needed to accomplish it is relatively less which saves you a lot of time. Smart Work is the main ingredient needed for efficient Time Management. And when you are productive, you can utilize the extra time you have by pursuing your passion, learning something new, or spending quality time with your loved ones.

Now that you know why working smartly is so important, here are some tips on how to work smart.

The Smart Work Roadmap

1. Focus on the Process

Again, a lot of people focus on the end goal because of which they are not able to achieve it in the first place.

So, should I stop setting a goal for myself?

Absolutely not. Setting a goal is not wrong but focusing on it rather than the process involved to reach there is.

Here's how to distinguish between a process and a goal:

If you want to lose 10 kgs this year, that's your goal. Eating healthy & exercising daily is the process.

If you want to make a 6-figure income, that's your goal. Starting a business, or finding clients is the process.

If you want 10,000 subscribers on your channel, that's your goal. Posting a video regularly and engaging with your audience is the process.

So you must have got the idea!

2. Follow Pareto's Principle

You cannot possibly achieve absolutely everything that you have dreamt of.

Yeah, that's true. You can achieve multiple things but not literally everything that you have thought of.

The human mind is fascinating. Whenever it sees something new, it gets excited and makes you want to try out. Unfortunately, we have limited time and we always prioritize stuff. The question is:

Are you prioritizing things the right way?

Hardworking people aim to complete every possible task, while smart-working people focus on the most important tasks and do them well.

Don't fill your to-do list with more tasks. Instead, fill it with tasks that are of high value.

As a salesman, if you sell a Rs. 100 item to 10 people, or sell a Rs. 10 item to 100 people, you make the same amount of money. The former is smart work while the latter is hard work.

3. Understand Parkinson's Law

If you are given 21 days to complete a task, you will complete it in 21 days. If you are given 7 days for the same task, you'll complete it in 7 days.

Here's what Parkinson's Law states:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

This is what happens to most people. They keep on procrastinating until the final week or in some cases, even the final day. A few years ago, even I did the same. I learned to practice the law gradually. Now when some work pops up, I get it done as soon as possible so that I don't have to deal with it for a long time. I still procrastinate on a lot of unimportant things which I'm working on improving.

But is it that easy? Once I start working smartly, will there be no stress at all?

No, it is not that easy. Nothing worth having comes easy. Smart work beats hard work in several areas but hard work is not completely useless. Keeping a good balance between hard work & smart work is crucial.

Balancing Hard Work & Smart Work

When to work hard?

If you are starting out with something, you need to put in those extra hours. But don't work blindly. Make a solid strategy that you are planning to follow and bring it into execution.

That initial push that you give yourself every time you start a new habit will make you more consistent and disciplined in the long run.

When to work smart?


You can reduce the amount of hard work you put in once you learn the skill well but smart work has to be there at every point.

After all, you don't want to lie in your death bed and regret that you did not live life and worked most of your life. No one wants that.

Work Hard, but don't skip smart work. Once you start practising, you will notice your stress levels reduce and you will get more time which you can spend doing other things that you love.

Now, I want to turn it over to you.

Which technique are you going to experiment first?