Thinking Hard Is Hard Work

Work hard at working smart.

We need to redefine “hard work” to include “hard thinking.”

The person who outsmarts you is out working you. The person who finds shortcuts is out working you. The person with a better strategy is out working you.

Usually, the hardest work is thinking of a better way to do it.

James Clear

As knowledge workers, the quality of our output depends on the quality of our thinking.

The common “Work smart, not hard” advice is deceiving because working smart is still hard work.

Working smart is still hard work, but most of the hard part is front-loaded. It’s the deep thinking required to understand a problem from different angles. To go beneath the surface and discover root causes. Once you’ve done this hard thinking, what would otherwise be hard work becomes easy.

Work hard at working smart.

To the outside world, hard thinking can look a lot like doing nothing, and this can lead to people questioning your performance at work.

You can compensate for the appearance of doing nothing by writing and sharing the outcome of your hard thinking. Do that even if you haven’t found a solution yet or if what you explored turned out to be a dead end.

As a matter of fact, writing things down is one of the best ways to think hard. Few people can contain complex problems entirely in their brains. There are too many moving parts to follow. Using an external storage to track the results of your thinking increases its range.

Another benefit of tracking and sharing the partial fruits of your thinking is that others can take a look and critique them. Criticism is crucial for improvement. It reveals errors and helps you correct them.

How much time do you spend thinking hard? And what can you do to increase it?

One last question: What is one thing I could do better next time? Leave a comment below, get in touch on Twitter or LinkedIn, or hit reply if you read this as an email.

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