What is smart work

by Jake Smolarek
A light bulb drawn on a blackboard


We've all heard the old phrase "work smarter, not harder." It's one of those things people say all the time in business, even in schools. But many people don't know what this actually means.

Another one you've probably heard a lot in recent years is "hustle." Everyone talks about hustling.

What is working smarter? How is it different from working harder? Should you do a bit of both? What actual is hustling? Is Hustle the same as working smart? Is smart work the future?

I'm here to answer your questions and tell you what you should be doing to be the most productive, efficient, motivated, and successful version of yourself.

Explanation of smart work?

Working hard is not the same as working smart. Working harder means putting in long hours, staying on a task until it's done, and expending all your energy to get things sorted. It is draining and exhausting.

Working smarter means using your brain to find better ways to get the job done. Sometimes, this means using a new ideology to develop new ideas. Sometimes this means taking a break so you can reset and refocus. Working smarter can also mean knowing what to focus on, spend time on, and what to do quickly or delegate to others.

To sum it up simply: Working hard is about being reactive to a job that needs to be done. The job is there, so you do it. Working smarter is about being proactive. Smart working means finding the best way to achieve your goal and changing how you work to make it happen.

Tip: There is actually more than one smart work definition. Don't confuse working smarter with Smart Working technologies. Smart Working tech means using the latest technology, apps, and ideologies to complete tasks and connect ideas.

Is working smarter better than working harder?

When it comes down to it, there's nothing quite like hard work. Putting in the effort day after day is the only way to see results. There is no substitute for putting in the work, and a smart worker prepared to work hard will see results.

But that doesn't mean that all this smart work stuff is nonsense.

Working smarter can help you to work harder. At some point, particularly over the past year, everyone has felt burnt out or exhausted. When you aren't at your best, you can't work at your best. Finding ways to make your work easier, more manageable, or faster can be a huge help. Not only will you see results, but you won't be so tired. Being on the top form means you can put 100% effort into your work.

Working smarter and finding better ways to get things done can motivate you to do the hard work. A task that used to be challenging but is now straightforward suddenly feels effortless, and you get it done first thing in the morning rather than procrastinating.

So really, you should work hard and work smart.

And to be able to do hard work without getting burnt out, you need to work smart. That's why working smarter is so essential; it's the key to working harder for longer. It makes hard work easier.

What's hustling got to do with it?

What is Hustle?

Many people have heard the word Hustle in recent years, but few know the term emerged in African American culture in the 19th century. The original meaning to undermine, trick, or steal has transformed into something more honest.

Nowadays, to say that you hustle means you work hard and put in the extra effort at work.

To hustle is to say that you are working both hard and smart. The rise and grind of hustle culture imply that someone goes above and beyond to get the job done.

Why is Hustle important?

For a long time, overworking and becoming a workaholic were frowned upon. Family values were as important as your career, so men and women shouldn't work too much. Working hard was for the lower classes.

But the rise of the term hustle has given a new positive spin on working hard. Suddenly it's become an attractive, positive quality. Nowadays, working hard is seen as going after what you want, being determined and motivated to succeed.

To hustle is going out and getting what you want by working hard and doing what needs to be done. But thanks to the new term, this isn't seen as overworking; it's what we should all be doing.

How to be a smart worker and how to hustle

A hand holding phone with words 'WORK FOR IT'

KristopherK / Pexels

When it comes down to it, smart working and hustling is all about being the most productive you can be over a long period. It's about working effectively, staying motivated, and keeping productivity high. Smart work is like a good habit; you can learn how to make it part of your life to make hard work easier.

Here are 10 top tips for hustling effectively and ensuring you're smart working every day.

1: Have a big goal

There is no point in hard work if you don't know what you are working for. Make sure that you dream big and have a great overall aim. Working hard and smart working to achieve small goals is much less satisfying. Having a dream will help to motivate you to put in your best effort and force you to continually work hard to achieve it. Smart workers who hustle effectively aren't afraid of having big goals. Dream big and expand your mind. Set high expectations for yourself. Remember; if it was easy, everyone would do it

2: Be prepared for new ideas

Effectively hustling and being productive means accepting new, better ways of doing things. Don't get stuck in tradition. Sure, you always did something a certain way. But if there is a better way to do the same thing, don't be afraid of change. Always be on the lookout for new ideas, methodologies, and approaches. From project management to technology to investment and new skills, there will always be new ways to do things—people who hustle and work smart know when to embrace the future.

3: Have a side hustle

The word Hustle is in the name! So having a side project to make money can be a great way to help your Hustle and succeed. A side hustle shouldn't take up too much of your time or energy, but it should be an excellent way to get a little extra cash to support you financially while you work. A side hustle is also a helpful distraction because it supports your main goals and gives your brain a break to focus on something else. Having multiple income sources is also a smart way to ensure you always have income, even if something fails. Your side hustle should be hard work.

4: Get rid of distractions

Although a side hustle can be a good distraction, you should limit your distractions to keep your mind clear and focused. People who practice smarter working don't waste their time and procrastinate, they get on with the hard work. Find a way to eliminate distractions or set aside time to do these things at once. Make sure your mind is clear and free to concentrate on the tasks you need to complete without half-thing about something else. This might mean you need a dedicated workspace or to put your phone away; it might even mean hiring a cleaner so you don't do housework when you should be working!

5: Learn how to manage your time

Time management is one of the most important things to learn if you want to smart work. Some things take a long time and might not add value. You need to know what is worth your time and attention, what can be done quickly, and what should be delegated. There are only so many hours in a day, so you should learn to prioritize tasks that require your full attention to make the most of each day.

6: Take time off

Just because you want to be productive and get a lot done doesn't mean you have to work all the time. If you never take a break, you'll find yourself burnt out. A lazy evening watching Netflix might just give your brain enough time to reset and relax so that you can be extra productive tomorrow. Sure, you could work until 9pm every day, but you'll soon find yourself overtired, unable to concentrate, and not able to give your best. Smart work sometimes means not working at all. Have an evening off, take a long weekend, go on holiday. Smart working is about knowing when to stop so you can be more productive tomorrow.

7: Learn from mistakes

Smart working doesn't mean you won't make mistakes. But people who really work smart don't let their mistakes get them down. When you get something wrong, learn from your mistake and turn it into a lesson. If you learn from your mistakes, you are learning what not to do in the future and how to succeed next time. That's the aim of working smarter, finding a better way to do something. It's hard work, but you'll get better.

8: Don't be afraid to say no

You don't always have to do everything. One of the fundamental principles of being productive is knowing when to say no. You should focus your attention on what will really drive you forward. This can mean saying no to side projects, distractions, and work that won't help you achieve your goal. Saying no can feel scary, particularly for paid work, but you should need to reserve your energy and focus on more important projects. Smart work means knowing to not do something that you might want to do but really, won't help you.

9: Accept help from others

Just because you are willing to work to meet your goals doesn't mean you have to do it alone. Some of the most innovative workers know when to accept help from experts and colleagues. The aim is to succeed, so don't let pride get in the way of you achieving your goals. We all need a bit of help sometimes, and we can learn from others, although it can be hard work. Accepting help isn't defeat; it's just one more person working towards your goal.

10: Work hard

This is where working smarter and hustling come together. You need to actually do the hard work. Putting in the time and energy will pay off if you are consistent. You can't expect to get results immediately just because you are working intelligently. For smart work, consistency is key and successful people know that real success isn't achieved in a week, a month, or even a year. You need to ensure you are working smarter every single day and keep practising those principles day in and day out.

Hustle your way to success

Working smarter, not harder, is a trend that's likely to stick around. So is hustling. Why? Because they work.

Consider a good coaching session with a professional coach to discover what smart working meaning is in your case. 

Gone are the days of putting in long hours and working hard for no real reward. If you know how to work and what to do, you too can achieve success. To work smart, you need to embrace change, find a better way to achieve success, and then hustle until you achieve your dreams.

Productivity and efficiency are crucial to the idea of working smarter. If you are determined to succeed and want to avoid burnout and exhaustion, now is the time to embrace the hustle trend and get down to business.

About the Author

Jake Smolarek

Life and Business Coach & Entrepreneur

For over 16 years I have been helping people achieve their personal, professional, and financial goals faster and easier than they've ever imagined.

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