Paulelmo's Blog

The often misused advice that is “Work smart, not hard.”

While writing the Springsteen piece that came before this, I thought of all the times I’ve heard people take pride in the fact that they “work smart, not hard.” I am not completely against this thought across the board; rather, I just don’t understand why the two things have to be mutually exclusive.

Why is it not smart to work hard? Is smart  work any easier than…what? Dumb work? Am I dumb to work hard?

You see, I don’t think this is an either/or decision to make when deciding how we should work. Furthermore, I don’t think we can make a blanket statement about how we should work.

Different jobs require different plans of attack. Were someone to say something like, “When balancing a ledger, one needs to work smart, not hard,” then that seems truer than to say the say the same if one is digging a ditch.

Despite the job, however, I think it is always smart to work hard. What’s more, I think that sometimes people say “Work smart, not hard” just to justify being lazy.

As a bartender, I’m constantly required to multi-task and triage things in order of importance; Drinks come before processing payments, and someone’s first drink takes priority over someone else’s second drink, but bottled beers come before highballs, which come before draft beers, and Lord knows how long it’s going to take me to remember that you asked for a glass of water.

I’m just trying to illustrate that it’s a lot of work; yes, it takes a good degree of mental acuity, but it also takes hard work.

So, if you’ve got a job that requires your brain more than your body, by all means, work smarter than herder, but don’t tell me to do so, because I have to do both. How else are you gonna get your buzz on?

Just thoughts here, spitballing really; I wouldn’t want you thinking these things actually bother me. Unless one is lazy, however; that bothers me. If we’re all in this together, then the rest of us deserve you to throw in your weight, and even if you don’t, try not to find ways to make your laziness seem like you’ve figured out something that others of us haven’t.

Much love, beautiful people. Hope you’re well.

4 Replies to “The often misused advice that is “Work smart, not hard.””

  1. Hey! Actually in my way of thinking, work smarter not harder does reference the ditch digger easily as much as the accountant doing the ledger. Example, guy is digging the ditch with his hands and it’s hard and taking forever. Guy decides, let’s be smart, that shovel in my garage will do this faster, and be easier on my body. He digs for a while using his smart idea to achieve the same result, but with less effort. Then he decides his neighbors backhoe would be a much smarter idea to do this task than the hard work he is putting in with the shovel, and way easier than his poor paws which are healing nicely in the bandages since he stopped doing hand to ground combat against mother Earth. Of course later, the idea of explosives creating the whole ditch at once and includes a fireworks show just can’t be ignored, but that’s another story about disrupting the neighborhood sewer system when he cracks a few pipes…..
    Back to the actual point, as he realizes his options, he begins to work smart to complete his task without working as hard. Maybe I have watched Tim on Home Improvement way too much, but that is how my mind sees that wording of working smarter, not harder.
    Just my thoughts…… Though I am now considering making a ditch just to have fireworks included…..
    Stace

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