How To Work Harder and Smarter

Hard work is misunderstood.

Life takes work… lots of it… and it's often hard.

What he means here is the misplaced obsession with putting in hours, as if hard work and results in life is all about how long you work.

That's not the equation.

You can put hours into the wrong things. Then what will you get?

Surprisingly, this is what I see most people do.

Most people work to meet some hourly goal. They work to feel like they are making progress.

But results don't give a damn about the hours you put in.

Results are a result of connecting certain things to produce an outcome—nothing more, nothing less.

There is a connection to putting in hours and figuring out how to connect things to get results, especially at the beginning of your career.

I'm not saying you don't have to work. You will.

The thing is, paradoxically, as you become more effective and get more results, you can—and probably should—work less as time goes on.

But most people just end up working more. They put in more hours because they don't think about all these ideas, and they fall into the "more is better" trap.

The reality is, most people could work 3-4 hours a day and do MORE work than they do now.

They could use batching, create systems, say NO when needed, and stop spending time on ineffective activities while simultaneously optimizing their environment to maximize focus and effectiveness.

Instead, most people stretch their work to fill an 8-hour workday because that is what their employer expects of them and/or because they are getting paid hourly.

One of the cool things about working for yourself is your incentives are aligned with your work: you're incentivized to get the most done in the least amount of time.

Have you heard about the Verizon employee that automated his job to the point where he worked only a few minutes each day?

When they found out, they fired him.

They should have given him a promotion and a huge raise.

Typical backward corporate thinking.

Here are my tips for working more effectively than I've been refining for over 15+ years working for myself:

Learn what Deep Work is and build it into your daily routine (read the book)Learn what the 80/20 principle is, then use it ruthlessly to cull things from your work that aren't worth the effort.Say NO to most things.Remove distractions when you are working. When you aren't working, don't be in your email or be thinking about work. Completely compartmentalize them. Your family, sanity, and output will thank you.Spend time to remove yourself from work and let your mind wander.Read lots of booksPursue hobbiesGet really good at the tools you use. For me, this is my Mac. Know shortcuts and continuously find ways to use technology to do work for you.

Finally, always be thinking about your work as a system that requires constant maintenance, engineering, and improvement.

Always be looking for ways to get more done in less time.

Always simplify, reduce, and eliminate whatever you can.