smarter not harder

The phrase "work smarter not harder" isn't mine, of course -- and when I mentioned it last week, it was resonating because I'd heard it recently on a podcast by Cheryl Richardson, a life coach whose books I've read for years. She's not the only person I've heard say such things, or use that phrase even; but for whatever reason, I paid more attention last week and I've been mulling it over since.

In that particular podcast, Cheryl focused on three main areas which could help you work smarter not harder: organizing your physical space, working in sync with your natural rhythms, and planning your work. All areas in which I've been trying to make some adjustments, so it was nice to hear some more ideas about those things.

But what really hit me -- probably because I was listening to the podcast, rather than reading it in a book -- was the emotional resonance of the word "harder." The psychological damage we do to ourselves every time (and I heard myself do this recently in a conversation with colleagues) we say "well, I didn't get as much done as I wanted to" about a term break, or think silently "I just have to work harder." No one I know or work with needs to work harder -- it makes work sound awful and painful and difficult before you've even begun anything. Work differently, yes. Work more creatively, yes. And that's what hit me about work smarter -- not only because smart is a word I appreciate -- but because art is there in the middle too.

So my goal this week: not to use any words, to myself or others, about quantity or hardness of work. And instead, try to find the sweet creative juicy middle that is, no matter what your field, about art.