Alex Turnbull is a serial entrepreneur whose past ventures have all been in the b2b SaaS space. Currently he’s the CEO and Founder of Groove, taking on the customer service market. Previously he was a co-founder and Product Manager at Bantam Live (Acquired by Constant Contact Feb. 11')
Why you have to work hard AND smart, and how to do both?
Working Hard and Working Smart:Why You Need to Do Both
I love this quote on hard work from Mark Cuban:“Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it away from you.”
While I don’t spend much time thinking about our competition, the spirit of the quote still hits me hard:
Everyone that wants to achieve the same goals as you, and has a shot at doing so, is already working really hard.
Working hard is table stakes.
The four-hour passive income workweek that so many dream about simply isn’t realistic to expect without the four thousand hours of hard work to turn that dream into a reality.
You have to put in the time.
But working smart — that is, making the most of every minute of your hard work — is important, too, because that’s the multiplier.
Working smart (more on that below) is what gives you 10x the output for every hour you spend working.
But 10x’ing bad results — by working smart but not working hard enough — still leaves you with mediocre results at best.
10x’ing the results of insanely hard work, on the other hand, is how winners separate themselves from the crowd of people who will never achieve what they want.
4 Practical Tips For Working Harder
Here are a few things that help the most when I need motivation to work harder:
1) Understand your “Why”
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. “ — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
2) Surround yourself with hard-working people
There’s an old adage that you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with.
It’s a cliche, but I believe that there’s a lot of truth to it.
And who do we spend more time with than those we work with?
If you’re surrounded by lazy people who look for ways to avoid working harder, then that behavior will be normalized to you.
If, on the other hand, you’re surrounded by motivated people who never shy away from hard work, then that’s the mindset that will rub off on you.
I work very hard to hire hard-working people at Groove, because it makes working hard on everything else a lot easier for me.
And all of these hard working people meet every single day to keep each other accountable.
The biggest hiring mistakes we’ve made have all been due to hiring ultra-talented people who simply didn’t want to work that hard. It quickly began to rub off on the team in the wrong way, and we’re lucky to have recovered from it more than once.
3) Turn off distractions
This one is ridiculously simple, but ridiculously important: turn off your email, social media, phone and any other distractions that keep you from putting 100% of your attention on the work at hand.
We’re wired to take the path of least resistance.
4) Make tasks more manageable
There are two ways that I make big, complicated tasks more manageable.
First, I break them up into smaller tasks.
It’s a lot easier to motivate myself to outline a post, and then to fill in the paragraphs, and then to come up with a title, and then to edit it, and then to publish it, and then to promote it, than it is to motivate myself to tackle a project called “Publish blog post” all at once.
Second, I power-block my time and dedicate it to a specific task. For example, I’ll block off 2 hours to do nothing but answer customer support emails.
4 Practical Tips For Working Smarter
1) Delegate strategically (and do it right)
Want to make the most of your time spent working hard?
You can do this even if you don’t have people reporting to you: sites like Fiverr mean that small, less-important tasks that take up valuable time (and, importantly, focus) can be delegated cheaply.
But here’s the catch: delegating only saves you time if you do it right.
2) Automate recurring tasks
Some tasks can be delegated to technology.
3) Take breaks
The impromptu breaks are great, but perhaps even more important are scheduled breaks.
I don’t know many people who can be “on” for eight hours straight. But rather than being “on” for an hour or so, taking a break, and then getting back to work, many people spend most of their workday in a half-productive/half-distracted purgatory.
4) Pick a tool, any tool, and use it
Pick a project management tool — literally almost any tool — and use it religiously.
It saves a massive amount of time on “syncing up” and meetings that probably don’t need to happen.
Hope this blog helps you save more time at work and become more productive. Feel free to share your tips and tricks in the comment section below. Thank you.