It is a common trend that people work hard, often much more than is
required. This is particularly relevant when “working hard” is one of
the key values of the person and becomes a character trait, something
that is seen as virtuous by the individual and his peers. There is
nothing wrong in working hard; but only when all the extra efforts
result in profitable or productive outcomes; it is beneficial for the
firm and its people.
This leads us to the question of how can we work smartly or remain
highly productive, without clocking hundreds of hours. Smart work can
happen when managers create teams that have complimentary skill sets and
outcomes are pursued through team effort rather than individual effort.
It is important for people to have a realistic understanding of their
competencies and their behaviours.; Another reason that prevents people
from not working smartly, is over-engineering what needs to be done.
People often feel that by going the extra mile, whether required or not,
can impress their boss, client or both. Further, the misguided
aspiration to be a perfectionist often results in neglect of priorities
and unproductive work.
Smart workers focus on how they spend their energies rather than their
time. They tend to spend their best energies on most important tasks at
hand and are good at prioritizing. There is also a common myth that
taking multiple roles and responsibilities is good; smart workers focus
on a few jobs at hand and do them well. Finally, it is important to
recognise the point of ‘diminishing returns’ and not doing the work when
it’s time to stop. New technology clearly enables us to work faster and
efficiently, and it facilitates flexible and remote working, but it also
means that we cannot really get away and switch off.
So the question to ask ourselves is, how can we become smart workers?
Given the fact that more than half our waking life is spent working, it
must surely be worth the effort!
by Jim Taggart
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