Working smarter, not harder

By May 29, 2020Approach

Everyone knows what hard work is, and how important it is.

But, what most people do NOT know is how to work smarter.

So they spend more time, energy and money doing things that don’t matter much in terms of getting results.

They’ve never heard of the 80/20 principle (which I call “strategic prioritization“).

Some people, on the other hand, manage to develop a knack for working smarter.

Then they figure out how to hire other people who work smarter, which is probably the smartest thing of all.

Unfortunately, the path to working smarter isn’t very clear. If it was more people would figure it out.

You see, it’s easy to completely misunderstand what it takes to work smarter. I see a lot of smart people who completely screw it up.

For example, using technology can help you get more stuff done, more easily, and at a lower cost, BUT…

Merely using technology is not the key to working smarter.

All too often people use technology in a way that creates more problems and more frustration.

Lots of lawyers misunderstand how to use technology effectively.

Still, like I said (and will say repeatedly) technology is not the key to working smarter—especially not for lawyers.

So, what does “working smarter” look like exactly?

Well let’s begin by considering the insight offered by German General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord.

He is somewhat famous for his classification of military officers into four basic types, which he explained as follows:

“There are clever, hardworking, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and hardworking; their place is the General Staff. The next ones are stupid and lazy; they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties.

Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the mental clarity and strength of nerve necessary for difficult decisions.

One must beware of anyone who is both stupid and hardworking; he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always only cause damage.

In other words, you want people who are clever enough to work smarter AND who are highly motivated to avoid wasting energy (i.e. are “lazy”).

Clever lazy people make great decisions.

The greatest of which is not to waste valuable energy doing unnecessary work.

Oh, and if you want to learn to use technology effectively (i.e. use it to work smarter), check this out.


I hope you found the above article helpful. If so you might appreciate my Solo & Small Firm Lawyers’ Guide to Working Smarter, where I explain how you can better use technology to radically improve your law practice (i.e. earn a good living doing more of the work you love, while also being able to enjoy more time off)

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