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Are you busy? Or do you think you’re busy because you spend a lot of time working?

If you answered yes to this last question, then stop what you’re doing and read this Inc. article, “Why Working Hard Isn’t the Same as Working Smart ,” from entrepreneur and startup author Steve Blank.

Blank’s thesis is simple yet important. If you’re the type of person who feels like hard work is based on the amount of time spent working, you’re doing it wrong.

To me, this idea is hard to digest yet totally on point. I was taught long ago that the only way to make something good was to spend lots of time working on it. But as I’ve progressed in my career it’s clear that output measured in hours is not the right metric to benchmark success. Instead, we should measure work in terms of the quality of the end product. Who cares if it takes 30 minutes or two hours to produce something great?

We strive to create great, valuable, and simple things. Be it a blog post, a business service or consumer product, quality over quantity is what matters.

And this is exactly Blank’s point: too many leaders, entrepreneurs and company employees apply antiquated measurement practices based on hours worked to digital business. This leads to an always-on mentality in which success is viewed through the lens of time spent working. As Blank puts it, “long hours don’t necessary mean success.”

Hours spent working—a vestige of a bygone era?

There’s lots of research on this subject to back up this point. The Harvard Business Review post, “The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies” is about how long hours hurt people and companies. Author Sarah Green Charmichael notes that overwork is harmful to the companies that we work for. Citing a study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, overwork can lead to health issues, depressed employees, missed work, rising health insurance costs and turnover.

So, instead of measuring your productivity in hours and jeopardizing your health, work smart, aim for quality output and spend the energy you save doing high-value activities like playing with you kids, traveling, reading or taking that online learning course you always wanted to. Stop overworking your brain; you’ll be more productive as a result.

Our reading list this week:

Bonus Story! The most read blog post of the week:

Like what you read? Have suggestions? Drop me a note @mmerwin.


What We’re Reading: Work Smarter, Not Harder was last modified: September 9th, 2016 by Mike Merwin