Worlds like ‘Hustle’ and ‘Grind’ are thrown around on the daily. There are a lot of people showing off with the amount of hours that they work. But what if I told you that is it not about working long, it is about working hard?
The current culture
In our current culture it is cool to throw quotes around about working 18 hours a day and the typical ‘I will sleep when I am dead’ stuff.
However, a while ago, I came to the realization that there are so many people out there that are working long. They are just not working hard. And please, do not get me wrong. There are people that work long AND hard. However, I think it is just a really small minority.
Working long versus working hard
Let’s get into the semantics of this case. What is actually the difference between working long and working hard?
Well, working long means that a person for example puts in 15 hours a day and is busy all the time. Re-read that again. Exactly. The person is busy. Not working effectively or productively.
The person that is working hard, is the person that is working in an effective way and is being productive. This person can manifest their way of working into the regular 8 hours, or in 15 hours as well.
Let’s say there are two colleagues. One of them is working long and being busy 15 hours a day, while the colleague next to him is working really hard and only working 8 hours a day. Who will have better results at the end of the day? Indeed. The person that is working hard.
What working hard is all about
Now that we have discussed the difference between working long and working hard, I will share some strategies with you to start working harder.
Working hard consists of quite some elements. One of the most important ones are the next three elements: effort, effectiveness and focus. In essence, all three elements are bound together.
You cannot work hard without putting in the effort. Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort. Putting in the required effort, or even more, is the only thing where we really have control over in our daily life.
You do not have control over what others do, you might not even have control over some situations that you get involved in. But you have control over the amount of effort you put into things. And it is your own responsibility to put in the work.
Effort is the only factor which you have total control over. Use it to your advantage. Map your actions towards your ambitions and put in the effort. If you find it hard to motivate yourself to put in the effort, I recommend you read the article I wrote about 15 Effective Ways to Develop Self-Discipline.
Being effective consists of doing things that get you closer to your goals. What you do is way more important than how you do it. Be selective about the things you do. Do the things that get you closer to your goals. Filter the things out that do not align with your goals. Prioritize your tasks of the day in that manner as well.
In ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’, Tim Ferriss wrote down two truisms to keep in mind:
- Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.
- Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.
Besides effectiveness, you have probably also been thinking about another word: efficiency. Well, you are right for thinking about that word. It is important. However, efficiency is only important as long as it applied to the right tasking and systems. So, you first need to triple down on becoming effective and then add efficiency to that later on.
A good strategy to find out the things that are effective, is to apply ‘Pareto’s Law’. Which is also referred to as ‘Pareto’s Distribution’ or the ’80/20 Principle’.
Pareto’s Law in short is: 80% of the outputs come from 20% of the inputs. Some examples:
-80% of wealth is owned by 20% of people
-80% of the results come from 20% of the effort and time
-80% of complaints come from 20% of the costumers
Try to apply Pareto’s Law as a strategy by asking yourself questions. This will make you more aware and therefore can make you more effective. A question you might ask yourself:
Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes?
Focus is what makes great people great and mediocre people mediocre. Without focus, you will not achieve anything.
Where you focus on, is where your energy is going towards. If you focus on the wrong things, you will be losing your energy to the wrong things. If you focus on the right things, your energy will provide you with the desired results.
Prioritize your tasks for the day. Focus on one particular task and stick to that. Do not multi-task. Do not switch between tasks when you get bored of them. Just finish the task and then move on to the next one. Focus.
The only controllable thing
At the beginning of this article I already noted down one thing: there are of course people that work long and hard. However, they did not just achieve that by working long in an unaware state and just improve over time.
They achieved it by being aware of the three key elements to working hard: effort, effectiveness and focus. From there on they expanded their work-time. And guess what? So can you. Working hard is one of the only controllable things when it comes to achieving your goals. Use it to your advantage.