Should we be working harder, faster, longer, or smarter?

We all work with the objective of accomplishing a certain task, and we all want to do it as quickly and as perfectly as we can. We try to push ourselves in different ways, all in the name of squeezing every little bit of efficiency out of us.

Some of us work harder, toiling with more effort, taking on more tasks, the more challenging, or the more tedious ones.

Others try to work faster, aiming to complete jobs in the least amount of time.

Some opt to work longer, laboring for more hours, with the goal of accomplishing more.

The more deliberate among us would try to work smarter, accomplishing tasks in the most optimal way, giving thought to the factors that affect the final outcome, as well as to the manner in which it will be completed.

Given these differentiations, we thus pose the question:
Should we be working harder, faster, longer, or smarter?

The answer:
All of the above with a hierarchy of importance.

First Priority: Work Smart

We all should work as smart as we can, whenever we can. Practice all the work habits you’ve learned through the years—work more in the morning, long hard tasks before the short easy ones, take quick breaks, organize your workspace, break up epic jobs into bite sized tasks, and all those other tried and tested efficiency hacks.

Working smart allows us to finish more in less time without comprising quality.

Second Priority: Work Hard

Sometimes, even with the most diligent planning, there would be certain tasks we’d find tremendously difficult, either because we’re ill-equipped for the job (skill-wise or tool-wise), or we don’t have the time normally needed to finish it.

Working hard entails giving more than what we usually do, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s perfectly alright (some may even say beneficial) to put ourselves in overdrive every once in a while. But making it the norm can bring about stress and quickly burn us out.

Third Priority: Work Fast

When you’ve got so many deadlines looming over your head, there really is no other choice but to work as fast as you can.

Working against the clock is less than ideal and can of course cause undue stress. But if it happens often enough in our jobs that we’ve formulated workflow systems to address it, our bodies can get used to the urgency and the experience can become less stressful.

Some even say they thrive on pressure and come up with their best work when they’re time pressed.

Fourth Priority: Work Long

Nobody likes working overtime but we all know there are times when we just can’t help it. Work can easily pile up for a number of reasons (returning from leave, special events, absent coworker, etc.) and the only way to do them all is to put in some extra hours.

We can all tolerate some overtime work every now and then, but doing so on a nightly basis may put you at risk of getting ill, losing drive, or burning out.

As we all aspire to become efficient workers, we should always remember that while it’s commendable to excel in our jobs, we should not do it at the expense of our health and quality time with our family.

Work is important, but not as much as what and who we are doing it for.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels