What exactly is the difference between working hard (work hard) and working smart (work smart)?

Putting in extra hours at work may fall directly to working hard. You’ve stayed more than the time you’re supposed to stay and that can be viewed in two separate perspectives.

One is you love working and you want everything to be done before going home or you don’t know how to manage your time so you’re putting in the effort to finish your work.

Two of the significant differences in working smart and working hard are time and effort.

 Two programmers were tasked to do a project. After getting the information and requirements of the project, Programmer A started working and writing codes. Programmer B, on the other hand, started late.

Programmer B created a plan before working on the project.


Both programmers finish the project with the same result output but Programmer B finished first.

Even though Programmer A started first, he still came in second because he was working as he goes without planning ahead.

Programmer B exerted more effort in the beginning but it paid off over time. He identified a pattern within the project. He globally (project) declared codes that will be repeatedly use and instead of writing them down whenever needed, he would just call it.

Spending a little effort at the start can dramatically save effort needed throughout the duration of the project and enabling you to finish on or before time.

Another great example is 4 people were given a huge block and their job is to push it across a large distance. 3 have started pushing and grunting their way slowly to the endpoint while 1 took out a sharp object and carved the block and made it round.

It’s easier to push a rounded object than a block.

Here are some tips that will make you form a habit of working smart:


Identify which of your tasks are important and urgent. Some may be important but not urgent and some may be both. By identifying which falls where you’d be able to know which one you should address first and work your way down the list.


Once you identify which goes first on your tasks list, it’s the time now to plan how you will do it. Visualize impediments on the way and put in a contingency plan on almost every step so you’re prepared for what may come.

Prepare and Utilize Tools

Prepare the tools that you will need to get the tasks done. Utilize technology when preparing. There is almost an app for everything. You can download tasks trackers app that will help you track your progress towards getting all tasks done.

Learn to Say No

Easier said than done but have you ever felt like your boss does not understand your workload and just keeps giving you more even though you know almost at your limit? Of course, you have, you’re an employee. At some point, you are to feel that. A typical employee would be a “yes man”.

If you want to work smart, you should learn how to say no when you really need to. It should go without saying but say no in a way that you won’t come out just saying no to your tasks but you should be able to explain why you’re saying no. It’s liberating once you’ve made your case whether your boss will accept it or not.


Drop Time Wasters

Stop playing games, binge-watching or scrolling your phone with all of its apps. Maximize your time. Drop those time-wasting activities that render you unproductive. Grind baby, grind.

Cut Around

Try to find a shortcut. No, do not be lazy. Just like the example above, see if you can find a pattern on around your tasks.


Do not do it all. If you have someone that can help or someone who can do it better than you, let them. Delegate tasks are one best way of working smart. While you delegate your tasks, you can go on doing another thing.

Effective Communication

Learn how to communicate or two to people. This will greatly increase your way of having people do what you need them to do when you’re delegating. Make your staff be “want-to-do” more than “need-to-do”.

Know When to Stop and Ask For Help

There would be times that you just have to admit that you can’t finish a job. There’s no shame in that. It’s better to know it early and inform your boss so help can be given.


Remember that working smart and working hard may have its differences but one thing they have in common is “work”.

Let me share with you a phrase that have stayed in my mind since I heard it and resonate with:

“Hard work works. Working really hard is what successful people do.” – Denzel Washington

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