Original question from Quora:

What are some uncommon ways to work smarter instead of harder?

My Answer:

I know of one clever trick that works reliably for me and many others who use it. However, it’s strange so you’ve been warned.

Before you do any work, ask yourself why you are doing it and see if it connects to what you are trying to achieve.

That sounds too simple, I know, so let me see if a story would make it make more sense.

Many many people have heard the story of Michael Jordan. He was cut from his basketball team, so he was determined to make the team and show everybody how good he was at basketball.

He practiced and practiced. He shot the ball like crazy. When everybody else his age was goofing off, he was getting better.

Eventually, after years of practice he became the greatest basketball player of all time.

What does that have to do with working smarter? It has everything to do with it and here’s why…

Imagine of instead of shooting a basketball, he spent his time fixing cars with his dad. Now, there’s nothing wrong with fixing cars at all. But, if he had spent his youth fixing cars, he might have spent his life changing the oil in people’s cars at Jiffy Lube.

But that’s not what happened. He shot the basketball instead.

There were thousands, maybe millions of little choices he made where he chose basketball, instead of something else. Those were big decisions and small decisions. But they all came down to one decision - MJ was determined to be the best basketball player in the world.

If you asked him something unrelated to basketball, I bet he would have said he’s “not interested”. He very likely wasn’t interested. But the reason he’s not interested is that it has nothing to do with basketball.

It didn’t fit what he wanted to achieve.

If you want to really work smarter, don’t worry about all these little “hacks”. Sure, they help some.

But, if you really want to get somewhere, you have to make sure the work you are doing gets you closer to what you really want to achieve. If it’s not, why are you doing it in the first place?

-Brian

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