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Smart People Don't Struggle!

Jane Schulte

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The person who works smart is on flow. They are calm, relaxed, confident, accountable and pleasant to be around. They know that the amount of work they are faced with in any given day does not matter as their smart practices will keep it flowing and they will outperform their hard-working counterparts every single time!

The person who works hard is putting forth an enormous amount of effort. They are stressed, scattered, do not meet deadlines, are unresponsive and generally not very pleasant to be around. They believe that by working long hours and skipping lunches, all while sighing heavily when anyone asks how they are doing, is commendable and shows that they are dedicated “hard" working employees.

Which do you want to be?

In order to measure whether you are working smart or working hard, ask yourself a few questions. Do you find yourself rushing about and performing tasks in a hasty manner? Do you believe that the faster you go, the more work you will accomplish? Do you think that you will receive recognition for all of the long hours you put in? If you answered yes, think about it this way. The faster you go, the more prone you are to errors and the more you will find yourself unfocused by trying to take multi-tasking to a new level. We have all stubbed our toes, bumped our knees and spilled our coffee on our keyboards which are signs telling us to slow down and regroup. Do you know that employers judge employees on the results they get, not the number of hours they work to get the results or the angst they show on their hard-working faces?

Wouldn't you prefer to be the smart working individual who is pleasant to be around, works regular business hours yet confidently meets or exceeds project quality and deadlines?

Here are a few tips.

First, consider knocking out big projects that use the most brain power early in the day and saving less important tasks for later in the day when energy levels are lower. Or if you are not a morning person, you may be more effective by handling mundane tasks first thing as you rev up for your peak performing time of the day.

Continually re-prioritize work throughout the day as it becomes evident that other tasks have become more important. Understand when you need to turn away visitors, turn off your phone and email, roll up your sleeves and get totally focused when the urgent project is stretching you beyond your comfort zone. Seek the advice of a co-worker if you know there is a better way to tackle a task but your creativity is blocked. Accomplish a big project by dividing it into its parts and coordinating the whole effort. Know when to take a break, eat a snack or take a walk around the office before returning to complete a daunting task. Save information from past projects to be used in similar projects so as not to reinvent the wheel. Do one thing really, really well versus many things half way. Avoid distractions and stay on task. Be proactive, not reactive. Anticipate what lies ahead and follow your intuition.

Finally, think from the end before you start at the beginning. Visualize the outcome of your task or project and then backtrack and go through the steps necessary to reach the goal as visualized in an efficient manner.

Smart people know that change is good! Incorporate these tips and stop struggling!

Jane Schulte is Executive Vice President and COO of PRISM Title & Closing Services, Ltd. located in Greater Cincinnati. This article is excerpted from her latest book, WORK SMART, Not Hard! © 2008 available at or visit her website at to check out her new book, BOLD Leadership!


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