Which comes first, working hard or working smart?

Every day new questions trend throughout the internet. In a recent debate, the question popped up. Is it better to work hard or work smarter?

I remember the first time I was introduced to the concept. I was around eight years old watching “Ducktales.” For those who don’t know it was an after school cartoon that ran from 1987-1990. I mostly watched it because it was a cartoon and didn’t pay much mind to the content. The cartoon was peppered with entrepreneurial advice from one of the main characters, Scrooge McDuck. The scene below is probably the first time I had any thoughts of what problem-solving was.


My answer to the question, I think it often takes a lot of hard work to figure out how to work smart. At the same time, it is not linear and is under constant evaluation. When working hard, you’re in the weeds and can’t see the larger picture. You feel friction at certain points in your process, but to complete a task, you don’t have time to alter it.

Do you ask yourself Why does our business do x,y,z? What is the path of my process?

I ask myself these questions every day about everything. Sometimes I have breakthroughs; often I don’t. Here are a few ideas to help you find “smarter” solutions to any process. These are simple but serve as an excellent reminder for businesses, creatives, and programmers.

Stop Procrastinating

Analysis paralysis is a real thing. This is a major factor with all the information that is available to us at any given moment. You can’t do everything at once. You are best served to go after your top priorities. Inspect those priorities for pain points. Then break down each step to find issues. Get to work!

Reverse the Flow

If you are used to going after things from a top-down perspective shift it and try to look at it from the bottom up. I attend a yoga class semi-regularly. There’s a portion of sun salutations that is consistent from class to class. In one class it was reversed. It threw me off and made me focus on what the actual poses were. I realized I was in cruise control with that flow.

Reframe the Problem

You are so familiar with your process that you think you are working smarter. Now reframe the process. There is a method in art called upside-down drawing. In it, you often draw what you think you see as opposed to what is there. This can be applied to optimizing your process.


Always take the time to breathe. It is a great way to think deeply and calms down.

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