Don’t work harder, work smarter.
That phrase has been around so long it’s turned into a cliché.
But what does it really mean?
After all, aren’t you working as smart as you can when you’re working?
How often do you say to yourself, “Today, I’m going to phone it in and work stupider?”
People have good intentions.
And, as another saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
So what’s the secret to working smarter?
As a species, humans have an enormous capacity for self-deception.
We’ve got good intentions–but lousy awareness.
If you’re not aware of when you’re working “stupid”, then how can you change it?
The secret to working smarter is becoming self-aware.
The truth hurts. It hurts most of all when we use it on ourselves.
Want to work smarter? Be honest, and tell on yourself.
It’ll hurt. But you’ll learn something from the experience.
Time for me to go first.
As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been working stupid over the last week.
A theme has emerged: I’ve rushed to meet deadlines, and I got sloppy.
In my rushing around, my focus narrowed so much I missed important details.
Case point #1: Last Thursday, I found myself at the airport walking with a limp in my left leg.
This made no sense–my leg wasn’t hurting.
I took my shoes off. I was expecting to see the green insoles I use for arch support.
Right shoe: check. Green insole in place.
Left shoe: insole–missing.
I had swapped them into another pair of shoes, but only put one back into this pair while also trying to get packed and out the door, rushing to catch my flight. One more example of why multi-tasking doesn’t work.
Example #2: Saturday night, our family attended a concert.
During intermission, I went to grab my wallet from my pants pocket.
It was gone.
I checked all my pockets.
The second half of the concert was much less enjoyable as I found myself worrying about the wallet.
We got back to the car. No wallet.
We got home.
Wallet found. Sitting on the counter, all along. I’d forgot to bring it with me.
You’d think I’d learned my lesson.
On Sunday afternoon, we rushed off to another event.
Upon arrival, we got out of the car. You guessed it: no wallet.
This time, I was 99% sure I’d left it at home.
And I had.
Some self-awareness lessons are subtle. Others hit you with a 2 x 4.
This one was screaming at me: SLOW DOWN. PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS.
I just hope I get the hint soon. I’d like to be working smarter, too.
Working smarter looks different for different people. What lessons on working smarter has self-awareness given you lately? What have you done to apply those lessons? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.