6 reasons why “working smarter and not harder” isn’t working for you

At my old 9-5, there was this CRAZY misconception that if you’re not working more than 10 hours a day every day, missing lunch, and giving up your weekends, then you’re not really working or committed to the company.

Sounds familiar?

For many people, this is their sad reality at their job, and if they’re anything like I was at my 9-5 (and still am), instead of slaving away basically my whole day at a job, I focus on the idea of “working smarter and not harder.”

The idea of working smarter and not harder is a skill that I truly believe in and intentionally try to practice each day, but the gag is, it’s alot harder to master than you think.

In my career, I’ve run across many people who claimed to be “working smarter and not harder” but was honestly just working dumber and faster. Tbh (to be honest), I’ve definitely fell victim as well, but over time I’ve learned how to overcome it and I try my best to not fall victim again.

If you currently THINK you’re working smarter and not harder, but aren’t seeing any returns on your work ethic, keep reading. You’re probably doing the 6 things below and aren’t actually working smarter at all.

Your priorities aren’t in order

You’re so laser-focused on the idea of working smarter and not harder that you fail to prioritize your work effectively. Instead, you work really smart on the wrong things, which in return is anything but productive.

 You tend to streamline the wrong priorities, and still get shit done, but the work that really matters is lacking.

If I’m preaching to you, don’t focus on completing a lot of tasks to say you’re working smarter and faster. Instead, focus on completing the most important tasks that will have the greatest impact on whatever it is you are doing.

You don’t understand your strengths and weaknesses

Instead of taking the time to understand your strengths and weaknesses, and how they impact your work, you outsource and delegate the wrong projects and tasks. For many people, working smarter and not harder means knowing how to delegate, but are you really working smarter if you’re delegating the wrong stuff?

Remember how I mentioned you’re supposed to focus on the high-impact work?

Before you start working, take a deep look inside and shamelessly figure out what you’re good at (your strengths) and what you could be better at (be honest with yourself now). The pathway to working smart means that you are cognizant of this and utilize the resources around you to help you get shit done (and ultimately work smarter).

Which brings me to my next point..

You take [too much] control

The way you see it, the work won’t be done correctly if YOU don’t do it so you focus on doing everything yourself. Why hand over a task if it’ll be done wrong anyway — right?


Don’t be scared to outsource.  I outsource a lot of admin work which saves me hours a week and allows me to focus on other things – #workingsmarter.

Once you figure out your strengths and weaknesses, and prioritize correctly, be sure to leverage your resources and your network.

You spend less time learning new things

When you’re so busy working smarter, who has time to learn?

If this is your way of thinking – stop it.

Education is your bestie.  

Working smart is all about understanding the big picture, being able to evolve with time, and taking time to learn new standards.  You need to constantly learn and evolve your skillset so that you can apply what you’re learning to your work, and ultimately work smarter.

You place blame

As someone that works smart, you “delegate” but when you do, you don’t provide enough context and you’re not clear with your communication, expectations, and deadlines. When this happens, you tend to be late on projects or submit subpar work. Instead of taking responsibility, you make excuses and place the blame on the people you delegated the work to.

Working smart does include leveraging your network and delegating, but if you’re not delegating effectively, then you’re not working smarter at all. You’re just wasting time and resources.

You look for shortcuts

One of my favorite quotes is by Eric Thomas and it says “Everybody wants to be a beast, until it’s time to do what real beasts do.”

When I think about work, the reality is that people really don’t want to do the work. Instead, they focus on finding shortcuts to get things done. Now I’m all for finding an easier way to do things, but keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you cut corners in a way that makes your work less valuable or complete. Instead, it means that you understand the regular process that’s required to accomplish something and then you figure out if that whole process is necessary.  When you do this, ask yourself “Is there a way to complete the same task with the same quality of work but in a more efficient way?”

Ya’ll – don’t look for shortcuts just to say you’re working smarter; look for ways to get things done faster and with the same (or better) quality.

What do you think about working hard vs working smart?  Do you have any other “working smart” mistakes that you would add to this list?

Written by Mogul Millennial Staff