In a BBC article on the results of the world’s largest survey on rest, professor Felicity Callard, director of the international group that devised the study, said: “We really need to challenge the assumption that if you take more rest, you are lazier. The fact that people who are more rested seem to have better well-being is an endorsement for the need for the rest.”
I can’t agree more with her conclusion. Millions of people suffer on a daily basis because they believe that working your fingers to the bone is the key to success. Obviously, work in itself is indeed crucial. However, what matters is smart and effective work, not merely hard work.
You can dig a hole with a shovel and work so hard you’ll faint from exhaustion. Or you can go fetch an excavator and do the same job with almost no effort. You’re not working hard when you’re using a machine instead of your muscles, yet you achieve incomparably better results.
To maintain self-discipline in the long term, it’s essential to avoid hard work as much as possible and replace it with smart work. Paradoxically, the lazier you are, the more you can achieve because you’ll constantly seek ways to achieve more while doing less.
The three most effective ways to work smart instead of working hard are:
Obsess about the results and disregard the effort.
The 80/20 Principle says that 80% of the results come from 20% of effort. The more you focus on what’s essential and skip the little details, the more you’ll achieve – and all that with much less effort.
Example: a lazy person learning a foreign language will start with the most common phrases and words. Before they know it, they’ll be able to hold simple conversations in another language. A hard-work-oriented person will try to focus on everything – including learning the proper grammar rules and obsessing about perfection. Guess if they’re able to use their language skills as quickly as the lazy person.
I define multipliers as things that dramatically increase the output while reducing the effort needed to produce it. Technology is one of the most powerful multipliers. It takes a computer virtually no time to calculate whatever you want, like 1.52% of 1846683. Try calculating it on a piece of paper and let me know when you’re done (if you’re curious, it’s 28069.5816).
In personal achievement, keystone habits are good multipliers – once you set them, numerous other positive habits appear in your life with virtually no effort.
Example: by far the best example is starting a business. Your chances of building wealth are incomparably higher when you’re an entrepreneur than when you’re an employee because your earnings potential is not limited by anything. You can multiply yourself by automating your business, outsourcing, hiring employees, or leveraging big platforms like Amazon.
Incorporate rest in your everyday schedule
No matter if you think you need it or not. This includes both rests in the physical sense as well as giving your mind a break.
Example: if you’re struggling with a certain challenge in your life, it’s possible you can’t see the solution because you’re too close to the problem. Take a break, go on a vacation, and when you’re back and look at it with fresh eyes, chances are you’ll see the solution right away.