The pinned tweet on my Twitter account at the moment says “Productivity tip: work hard.” It’s gotten a lot of positive feedback, so I assume it has resonated with a few people.
Productivity tip: Work hard.
— John D. Cook (@JohnDCook) October 8, 2015
I don’t know how people take it, but here’s what I meant by it. Sometimes you can find a smarter way to work, and if you can, I assume you’re doing that. Don’t drive nails with your shoe if you can find a hammer. But ultimately the way to get things done is hard work. You might see some marginal increase in productivity from using some app or another, but there’s nothing that’s going to magically make you 10x more productive without extra effort.
Many people have replied on Twitter “I think you mean ‘work smart.'” At some point “work smarter” wasn’t a cliché, but now it is. The problem of our time isn’t people brute-forcing their way with hard, thoughtless work. We’re more likely to wish for a silver bullet. We’re gnostics.
Smart work is a kind of hard work. It may take less physical work but more mental work. Or less mental work and more emotional work. It’s hard work to try to find a new perspective and take risks.
One last thought: hard work is not necessarily long work. Sometimes it is, but often not. Hard creative work requires bursts of mental or emotional effort that cannot be sustained for long.