WORK HARD or WORK SMART: Which is better?

I encountered this question when I was still in the school of engineering.

80% of our class were all scholars of different institutions – private and public.

In that field, everything is trial and error. That’s what engineers do – well most of the time. Then one of my professors advised us not to burn all our energies and brain cells in one task, because there will be more to come. He told us to WORK SMARTER rather than to WORK HARD.

Like a fire, that idealism spread all over the freshmen block sections. On the hindsight I see the advantage of that – nobody looks tired, stressed, and nerdy.

However, what I saw next got me thinking if they really understood the context of working smart. Because if they really do, how come cheating on exams became rampant, project and thesis making turned into an outsourcing business, and beating deadlines became the new trend of procrastination thus delivering mediocre and copy-pasted reports?

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Photo Credit: Copenhagen Business School

If this what turned out to be the definition of the new ideology, WORKING SMART, I’m afraid everybody else would just not dare to climb up the stairs anymore.

In my opinion, all NEW tasks whether difficult or common-sense level, require everyone to WORK HARD at first. Only mastery of this task produces the technique of WORKING SMART afterwards.

Come to think of it. How can you be smart in Algebra if you are poor in basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division? How can you build a business empire without working your way up to know first the basics of accounting, management, and negotiation?

Generations of today want everything in a hurry. They forget the value of EXPERIENCE. They forget that before anybody else becomes SMART, he has to start from nothing and that means working hard at first.

I posted this blog in a forum and as of writing, below are the screenshots of the interesting responses I’ve got so far:

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Uhmmm, excuse me? I don’t remember any of my professors who are poor. 🙂
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This guy’s a bit harsh about the future of AI (artificial intelligence) replacing manpower. Mind you though, this fact is accurate!
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Take Note: “VA” means virtual assistant, usually outsourced via online platforms such as freelancer.com.
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Excuse me? A “helot” is a slave in ancient Sparta (Greece). The lowest rank in the society during that time.

I would love to hear your opinion on this! Which would you rather do, work hard or work smart?


Today’s post is written in response to the Exposed daily prompt challenge of The Daily Post.