There is a lot of talk on the Internet buzzing around about working hard, “crushing it”, and “hustling”, etc. via popular entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuck. I see nothing wrong with hard work and I agree it takes tremendous hard work to get a business off the ground, especially in the early years before you have an established customer base.
However, I don’t think working hard is necessarily the answer all the time. In fact, I think working hard can lead to burnout, turnover, and bad decisions. It is also proven in many studies to be bad for a companies bottom line for many reasons, and thus building a culture of working too much is not really a sustainable business model. Employee turnover costs a lot, thus overworking your team into hating themselves and finding a new job is a terrible business model.
How can you raise a family, have enjoyable friendships, stay in good health, and do other normal life activities if you’re always working?
That’s why I believe much more strongly in working smart.
What does working smart mean? It means working in a capacity that is efficient. If you are tired all the time at work, you are most likely not working at 100% efficiency. I know that if I am tired, I am literally half as efficient as when I am not. Therefore, if I work 8 hours not tired, versus 10 hours tired, I am far, far more productive.
Some Simple Ways to Work Smarter:
1) Sleep Enough. Working tired is incredibly inefficient. Everyone needs different amounts of sleep so figure out how much you need to be productive and efficient and make sure you always get enough sleep.
2) Delegate. Sometimes it not efficient for you to do a task because it’s not in your wheelhouse or it’s below your pay grade. If you make 50 an hour but are doing basic admin tasks that someone at 10 dollars an hour could do, delegate those tasks.
3) Collaborate. Sometimes bringing in another team member or third party to help you with a task can make things much more efficient or produce a much better result. Learn to effectively collaborate with other employees, freelancers, or teams.
4) Research. Investigate your potential solution thoroughly before moving into it. I see many companies jumping into projects and new systems that they just simply did not do the research properly for and should have chosen something else instead.
5) Invest In Your Health. Health is your number one asset. Without it you have nothing. Invest in eating healthy, exercising, sleeping well, and whatever else you need to do to stay healthy.
6) Be Consistent. Sometimes it’s not about working hard for one week or two weeks. Putting in a solid 40 hours every week for the vast majority of the year will go a lot further than working really hard one week and then burning out and missing some time another week. In business and in most things in life, consistency matters a lot.
7) Automate. Find ways to automate or make processes more efficient. Are you constantly creating new proposals? Find a way to create a few templates that cover most of your needs. There are always ways to automate and improve what you are doing. There are also many tools out there like Hubspot that can help you automate basic tasks like scheduling meetings etc.
8) Learn and improve. You might be working hard because you are doing the same thing over and over and that’s what it takes to be competitive. Spend times at night or other downtimes to learn and improve your skills. By learning and improving you might be able to find ways to do things faster so you don’t have to work quite as hard.
9) Google. This might sound stupid but we constantly get questions that a simple Google search will answer. Spend some time googling a solution before you waste time asking a co-worker or worse, paying a third party to Google for you…
10) Take Time Off. It’s ok to use vacation time. Sometimes a good vacation can make you way more productive when you get back. You might even find that you miss work, making you more productive when you get back.
11) Don’t overwork yourself. Don’t go crazy working 12 hours a day when you know you can’t sustain it. It’s one thing to do it once in a while to hit a deadline, but sometimes you just have to say no, and get back to it tomorrow.
12) Eliminate pointless meetings. So many meetings are pointless or don’t create value. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to get out of the meeting and don’t let the meeting end until you do. If it can be accomplished via a quick call or slack message, don’t bother setting up a meeting.
13) Say no more often. Sometimes you have to say no to stupid meetings, people looking for favors, or other things that are just going to get in your way. Be more careful with your time and how you spend it.
14) Work from home. A lot of companies struggle with remote work, but if you can make it successful you can save an hour or so of commute time. Working from home can be effective if you can shut off distractions and get work done.
If you disagree or simply have something to add please comment. I really want to hear peoples opinions on this because of it’s all over my newsfeed these days.