5 Astonishing Differences Between Working Hard Compared to Working Smart

By Krista


Last Updated: October 2, 2021

Do you feel like you’re working your butt off but not taking the strides you want toward your goals?

You feel you’re going, going, going. Yet, the result you want (or need) isn’t happening. 

You may have heard some entrepreneurial gurus drop bombs about working smarter, not harder.

But what does this even mean? 

Well, if you’re not making any progress toward where you want to be, you might merely be working hard for the sake of working hard, as opposed to working smart. At the same time, working hard can open the gates to working smart. Confusing, isn’t it?

So, let’s take some time and understand exactly what this means, as well as how you can leverage both sides of the spectrum to get what you want out of life. 

Before we dig in, let’s take note that one of these isn’t necessarily better than the others. In fact, it might really depend on your goals and what stage you’re at in life or reaching those goals. 

So, what is the difference? Let’s take a look.


What Does It Mean to Work Hard?

Kevin Hart has said,

At the end of the day, you put all the work in, and eventually, it’ll pay off. It could be in a year. It could be in 30 years. Eventually, your hard work will pay off.

The truth is he’s not wrong! 

Working hard will most likely get you to where you want to be. In fact, you can think of “working smarter” as a layer to “working harder” — or the next level-up.

Working hard by itself means:

  1. Putting in the hours.
  2. Completing a certain amount of work in a set amount of time.
  3. Focusing on quantity rather than quality.
  4. Having the self-discipline to get something done.
  5. Not necessarily focusing on effectiveness or efficiency.

The benefits of working hard include:

  • You get stuff done.
  • You become reliable and predictable for yourself and others.
  • You build confidence.
  • You become more self-disciplined.


What Does It Mean to Work Smart?

In some ways, working hard is a requirement before working smart. Working smart usually means effective and efficient ways of doing things, with an emphasis on working with your strengths. 

Working smart further means:

  1. You’re focused on quality and quantity.
  2. You are effective, rather than possibly doing for the sake of doing.
  3. You might delegate tasks.
  4. You prioritize tasks effectively.
  5. You manage your time well.

The benefits of working smart include:

  • Your time is used in the best way possible.
  • You don’t sacrifice quality over quantity.
  • You leverage other people and technology to make progress.
  • You are more likely to achieve your goals.

Matshona Dhliwayo, a Canadian philosopher and entrepreneur, stated, 

Work hard, and you will earn good rewards. Work smart, and you will earn great rewards. Work hard and work smart, and you will earn extraordinary rewards.

In other words, work hard, then work smart. Combined, you are almost guaranteed to reach your goals. Who doesn’t want that?

Related Article: Want To Be a High Achiever? Read These 5 Tips


Examples of Working Hard and Working Smart

Merely working hard might mean you’re doing tons of work but not necessarily being efficient.

For example, maybe you’ve always done one task a certain way. While this might be working hard, finding new and more efficient ways to complete the task would be working smarter. 

By working hard, you might be dedicated and committed to your work. However, results might not be evident. With working smart, results are clearly visible. It’s like manually lifting a giant rock as opposed to using an excavator or another machine to do it for you. 

In fact, working smart might mean finishing the same amount of work but in less time. What does this mean? Probably a better life balance and even less stress.

Basically, hard work is the backbone but smart work is the meat. Remember this when you go to tackle that next goal!

Related Article: 5 Transformative Steps to Change Your Story & Free Your Mind


How to Start Working Hard and Smart

Alright, so some things are easier said than done. What are some tips to get you working hard and smart? We’ve got a few:

  • Prioritize. What items are truly important? What aren’t?
  • Assess HOW you’re doing something. Is it the best way? Is there a better way? Sometimes, taking a step back is the best thing you can do to re-assess what you’re doing, why, and how you can do it better.
  • Focus on quality over quantity.
  • Make S.M.A.R.T. goals and make smaller goals leading up to bigger goals.
  • Delegate tasks when needed and when it makes sense.
  • Plan your time. Time blocking is a great tactic for this, helping you get the most out of each and every minute!


The Lesson Here? Work Hard and Smart!

When you do, you’re more likely to get what you need or want. You also waste less time and energy on tasks that don’t matter or that won’t help you make progress. Think about it. Assess what you’re doing. Decide if it’s the best way, and use the above tips to help you out.

Read Next: What Do You Really Want Out of Life?

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels


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