Hard Work vs Smart Work

Smart Work vs Hard Work – How to Differentiate Between the Two?


  • What are Smart work and hard work?
  • Difference between smart work and hard work
  • Examples of smart work Vs hard work
  • Factors that determine smart work
  • Case study
  • Combining smart work and hard work

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”– Bill Gates

Nowadays, the word smart has a different connotation altogether. With smart TVs, smartphones, and smart gadgets making their way into our homes, the word smart refers to a whole new ball game.

Just like smart TVs and smartphones, there is a new concept called smart work and hard work. So, what is smart work and hard work?

Smart work can be defined as an activity done most effectively in the least possible time. Whereas hard work is the effort you put into an activity.

How do we understand this smart work Vs hard work concept better?

We can understand smart work and hard work differences with the help of a table:

Smart work  Hard work
Focus is on quality and quantity of work output The focus is mainly on quantity, that is, how much you can achieve
Employs different methods to do a job

Working smartly means completing a task efficiently

Does not employ innovative methods to complete a job

Working hard usually refers to the strenuous effort you put into completing a task.

When it comes to beating competition working smartly is the key In the long run, hard work pays.

Hard Work vs Smart Work, Which One Is More Effective?

person holding a board with question markWhen it comes to deciding between smart work Vs hard work there are always two debatable sides. Some may say that hard work finally pays off, whereas, on the other hand, others may say smart work gives quick results.

So, what works best for you? You can say that between the two smart work Vs hard work, a combination of the two may offer the best results. Both methods of working are essential to bringing the best results to the table.

While hard work ensures that you put in the best efforts to achieve the desired results, smart work ensures that you employ all possible factors to achieve your goal. Here smart work can also include delegating work to others or finding a suitable time to complete work.

Below are a few smart work Vs hard work examples to understand the concept better.

Take, for example, you have to mow an acre of land. It will take a lot of hard work and effort, physical strain, and perspiration to complete the work. This is the employment of hard work.

Whereas, when you delegate the work of mowing the lawn to an expert like a gardener, the work is done in a lesser amount of time, without wasting your energy. Here, you act smartly.

How Do You Differentiate Between Smart Work and Hard Work?

Although the smart work and hard work differences may be slight, they are noticeable. Let’s look at some of the smart work and hard work differences

When you work hard you perform a task. You perform it with all your effort. On the other hand, when you work smart, you find efficient ways of doing the same work.

Working hard means you perform the task in a particular style or method. Whereas, when you work smart, you try to find innovative methods to complete the task. You may find more than one way of doing the same task.

Since working smart means you try to complete the work efficiently, you tend to think before you start the work.

You evaluate and weigh the pros and cons of a particular method of working. When you work hard, you may not plan because you aim to complete the work with all your effort.

From the above smart work Vs hard work example, it is evident that you exert a lot of physical strength while working hard.

Whereas when you work smart, you use your mental prowess to reduce the physical effort. Therefore less energy is exerted when you work smartly.

Common Misconceptions About Working Smartly

Working smartly must not be mistaken with shortcuts. There are no shortcuts to success. Working smartly, although saves time, is not a shortcut method to achieve success. It is an efficient way of achieving success.

Working smartly must also not be associated with lazy people. A person who works smart is intelligent and not lazy.

Let’s take another simple smart work Vs hard work example. You have to move a heavy brick across a room. You can either work hard and use all your energy to move the brick from one place to another or you can think smartly and figure out a way to move the brick without much effort and in less time.

A person who thinks smartly may think of placing the heavy brick on wheels or on rolling objects to easily slide the brick across the room. Notice how thinking smartly has saved you the physical effort and time.

So, we can rightly say that though hard work yields result, a lot of time and energy can be wasted.

Whereas, when you work smartly you achieve the same result but, in the bargain, you save energy and time. This is one of the foremost smart work and hard work differences.

Case Study Smart Work Vs Hard Work

The best smart work Vs Hards work example is the case study of the empty soapbox. This case study is related to a cosmetic company in Japan that got complaints from customers about empty soapboxes.

To rectify this problem, the company invested in heavy-duty x-ray machines that detected empty soapboxes.

On the other hand, when a smaller company was faced with a similar problem, the company invested in a simple fan that would blow away the empty soapboxes.

Notice how both companies faced similar problems but the approach to find a solution was widely different.

The first company spent huge sums of money to invest in x-ray machines whereas the second company spent less money by investing in a simple fan.

However, in both companies, the result is the same. Both mechanisms detected empty soapboxes.

It is clear which company works smartly, isn’t it?

Hard Work vs Smart Work- Which One Is the Winner?

WinnerAlthough there is no clear-cut winner because essentially both hard work and smart work are required in the long run, we can say that working smartly is slightly more advantageous.

Let’s look at some of the key factors of working smartly:

  • More than one approach to a problem
  • Creative thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Planning ahead
  • Foreseeing obstacles
  • Improvise
  • Networking
  • Delegating

Combining the Two- Hard Work and Smart Work

The best way to complete a task is to work hard while thinking smartly too. Combining the two will give you the best results.

For example, you can work hard and manage your time. This is a combination of working hard and smartly at the same time. The combination of hard work and smart work is efficient work.


It can be rightly concluded that both hard work and smart work are required to achieve your goals. However, working smartly will save you time and energy.

Being productive is more important than being busy. In other words, it is good to indulge in smartly designed hard work.

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