Project Management

Hard Work vs. Smart Work: 5 Ways to Work Smart

PMI Newfoundland & Labrador Chapter

Ogaga is a seasoned project management professional with over four years of experience. She has delivered projects across Africa, Europe and North America.

I saw a video of a man carrying a heavy object and pushing a trolley. The task was for him to get both items to a work site. To complete the task, he decided to carry the heavy object and push the trolley.

That definitely gets the task completed, and it would be hard work (I imagine he would be exhausted afterward).

However, if I was given that task, I would put the heavy object in the trolley and push the trolley. This way, I likely get the work done faster and with less stress. That’s called working smart. When it comes to smart work versus hard work, which would you pick?

Sometimes, we treat our daily work activities like the man in the story above. We work so hard that we get worn out and exhausted. Yes, we get our work done—but why do we do this to ourselves?

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” This quote brings to mind two important things:

  1. You expend a lot of energy using a dull ax to chop down a tree. You might have the right tools to complete a task, but not understanding how to use them (or knowing how they work) make the tool of little benefit to you, resulting in unnecessarily harder work
  2. There are different ways to sharpen an axe. Using a machine would be faster than using a manual technique. Working smart involves reviewing the process you…

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"Stop that! It's silly."

- Graham Chapman, Monty Python's Flying Circus