On Working Hard and Effectiveness

Sometimes success requires that you work harder. But the fact that you are working hard doesn’t mean you’re necessarily working. Your work is about achieving certain outcomes, not about being impressively busy.

You can work really hard and still not get anything done. You can work long hours, come in early, stay late, and still not accomplish anything. You’ve had this experience, haven’t you?

You can work very hard on tasks that don’t produce the results you’re really after. Some of these come dressed like real work. They look like the kind of work that might show up on your job description. But because something looks like work doesn’t mean that it’s the right work. And just because something needs done doesn’t make it the right work either.

You can work really hard without producing results by choosing to do the work in the wrong order. It’s easy to choose tasks that are more pleasant over tasks that are unpleasant; it feels like you’re actually working. That work is better saved for some time after you’ve completed your most important work.

Your effectiveness is determined by what tasks you choose to focus on and the effort you put into completing those tasks.

On the long list of things you have to do each day, being effective may mean that you only cross off one item from your massive to do list. You can spend the whole day on a single task, not getting anything else done on your list, and still have a more effective day then you would have had you crossed off five items from the bottom of the list.

It’s normal to gravitate towards more pleasant work. It’s normal to seek out less challenging work that can be completed faster. But how effective you are it’s going to be determined by what you choose to do and how willing you are to commit yourself to doing the very best work you are capable of.

Less is more. More is less. Fast to slow. Slow is fast. The key is effectiveness.


Are you working hard?

Is the work you’re doing the work that you need to do to produce results?

What work keeps you busy but doesn’t really produce results?

How do get the difficult, results-producing work done first each day?

What do you do to be effective?

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Filed under: Productivity

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