Smart Work versus Hard Work

Smart Work versus Hard Work

Hard worker implies someone who is diligent, laborious and puts in a lot of effort and long hours into doing and completing tasks.
Smart worker implies someone who works intelligently and efficiently and achieves results with minimum effort.
This is a topic of considerable interest. Fortunately most of my students realize that smart work is much better than hard work. Hard work has been glorified by the theories of Communism. Parents and teachers promote the goodness of hard work because they compare it with the choice students often take of opting for wasting their time and procrastination. These are dumb choices and not smart choices!  In this blog I have tried to clarify as to why smart work is much better than just hard work. In fact smart work is the only way to progress!

Some Examples of Hard Work versus Smart Work

  • A takes 10 hours to cut a tree with sincere effort. B takes one hour to sharpen the axe and cuts a similar tree in 5 hours.
  • A & B are athletes of equal standard. A practices for a 5 km run competition 14 hours per week for 4 weeks, i.e. 56 hours. B practices for 4 hours per week for 4 weeks, i.e. 16 hours. B beats A comfortably!
  • A & B are students of matching academic competence. A studies for 12 hours every day. B studies for 8 hours every day with better planning. Both take the same competitive exam. B scores much higher than A!
Arguments in Favour of Smart Work
  • Smart work implies good planning, clarity of goals, efficiency and utilising the best known practices to accomplish the task.
  • Tasks can be accomplished faster by smart work.
  • Time saved can be used productively for other pursuits.
  • The method will keep you energised and not leave you exhausted.
  • Smarter work will provide you more time to invest in personal growth and enhance your competence.
  • A smart worker enhances efficiency and effectiveness by using the following smart choices:
    • Delegate less complex tasks to subordinates.
    • Prioritise tasks based on relative importance.
    • Stop doing unimportant things.
    • Reduce time spent in doing routine things by enhancing efficiency- Principle of Kaizen.

Arguments against Hard Work

  • It is an exhausting experience. After doing laborious hard work you are left with little energy to do anything else.
  • Hard work does not allow you to fully use your brain and it pushes you for more physical effort.
  • It displays determination and persistence but not much is achieved.
  • As the above examples show, working hard may give poorer results than smart work in academic as well as physical pursuits.


From the above arguments it would be apparent that smart work is vital for progress in life. With rapid advancements in the modern world it has become difficult for a worker to stay abreast with advancements even in his own field of work, forget about other fields. Hence a hard worker, who works 12 hours sincerely in doing his work will not advance but stagnate in his profession. In a few years time his level of skills would have become obsolete, because the world would have moved ahead. Smart work is thus the only choice for simple survival!

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