Working smarter not harder

One of the reasons I like working independently and have done now for nearly 14 years is that I don’t have to impress anyone with how hard I work. If I do work hard it’s because I really have to to get a job done on time for a client or because I’m so enthusiastic about a project that I can’t stop.

I remember reading a book about the meaning of competence some 30 years ago now. The book made the obvious but certainly not common-sense point that output is what people should be measured on, not input. If two people start work on Monday morning with the same task to complete and one finishes by lunchtime while the other is still labouring away on Friday evening, then the first person should have the option of taking the rest of the week off, or earning more by carrying out more tasks. Does this happen? Perhaps, but rarely.

Too many people are doing too much work because they feel it’s expected of them. That’s why they burn out so quickly and are looking to downsize to a little place in the country while still in their early 30s. With a clear and simple relationship between output and reward, they would have had the freedom to make choices about how much they work and when. That means recharging the batteries as and when necessary and trying to maintain as rich an out-of-work life as possible.

As Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson remind us in ReWork:

Not only is workaholism unnecessary, it’s stupid. Working more doesn’t mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more.

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