“Work smarter, not harder.”
-Lazy person’s motivational saying
The first time I heard this saying something about it bothered me. When I pondered it the reason why it bothered me became readily apparent. This saying is often an excuse for laziness and it also encourages a belief that working less hours in a day is somehow the desired goal in life. Why should we desire to not work harder? Why should we desire to only work smarter? Why not do both by working smarter AND harder? Less work is only desirable to many because they do not enjoy their work, in which case a change in occupation could be more important than a catch-phrase of “work smarter, not harder.”
We should be striving to make our work more efficient and productive, but this does not mean that we should strive to not work as hard. Few people are working as hard as they possibly can in the first place, and to limit their output even more by trying to “work smarter, not harder,” will only decrease productivity and negatively impact their lives. It has the opposite effect of what it is intended to have. Even if you did manage to get the same work done in less time, if that work makes you miserable then you have only delayed the suffering slightly.
I do not believe that most people even object to hard work like they think they do. They object to an erroneous concept of hard work that is not really hard work. The reality is that most of what gets classified as “hard work” is inefficient and unproductive work. So we see people digging a trench all day with shovels and that looks like hard work, but the real problem is that we innately know that what they are doing is woefully inefficient. A simple rental of a back hoe could get the job done in minutes, while it takes them a whole day of “hard work.”
Our God-given reason causes us to have a natural objection to such inefficient work. It is not that most people truly do not want to work hard, rather they do not want to work inefficiently. They want to do work that they know is achieving the maximum productivity. To do work, day in and day out, that you know is inefficient or unproductive is not enjoyable and can be taxing on the soul. People then mistakenly see being lazy as enjoyable over hard work, but this is only because the work they are doing is so unpleasant, boring, and unproductive, or there is some other defect in the work.
Hard work does not have to be inefficient, nor does it have to be unenjoyable. Most people are at their best and happiest in work when they feel like they are getting things done each day. They will find that they have more stamina for their work when they are seeing fruit from their labor. This state of being productive is where people can thrive, and this comes easily when you work smarter AND harder. We should not be trying to find ways to get out of hard work, rather we should be finding ways to increase productivity, improve efficiency, and get more done in the same time each day.