Working Hard vs. Working Wise

If there’s one piece of advice everyone in the world has ever heard, it’s about working hard. The concept of working hard revolves around the idea that if you put in the hard work, you will reap the benefits. But really, what does working hard mean? And does working hard always work?

Working wise, on the other hand, is when you put in a usually lesser amount of effort for the desired result. So what’s the difference between working hard and working wise?

Alpha Allanigui (Managing Editor + Editor-at-Large)

We say work wise when we realize that there is a better way of accomplishing things. To work wise is to arrest the thought of working hard that is synonymous to burning the midnight oil as opposed to hard work that means making every minute count to get things done. To work wise is to make sound decisions, balanced by the values of collaboration and cooperation, accountability and responsibility, and task and time management. To work wisely arrests the idea of working in the salt mines. It negates the feeling of being trapped in the production line that makes working hard sound so unattractive.

Boris Joaquin (Editor-in-Chief)

Working hard is simply beating oneself to gain or earn. And one can be beating aimlessly. But working wise is not only productive but purposeful. Working People whose personal life purpose are aligned with the purpose of their job love going to work. They are more productive and creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues, clients, and customers better. Purpose-driven employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies.

Working wise is defined by your sense of purpose. Your destination⁠—where you are going⁠—is defined by your purpose. Regardless of what we do in our lives, our driving purpose remains constant. What we do is simply the tangible way we breathe life into that cause.

Working wise is also guided by principles. These are your values⁠—non-negotiable priorities in life that guide your direction, your decisions, your behavior and your character. Your values are what you stand for. They help define your purpose. Before seeking to influence the thinking and behavior of others, it is important to have a conviction about your own personal principles or values. When you are clear on what you are doing, where you are headed, and why, this gives your work and leadership a specific point of view that defines your role and relationship with those you seek to influence. A clearly defined, value-based purpose creates a following of people who act, not because they were swayed, but because they were inspired by a sense of purpose or belonging. Supporters, customers, partners, and workers are inspired to act for the good of the whole because they want to, not because they have to.

Working wise is purposeful and principled. It starts from within.

Almira Manduriao (Associate Managing Editor)

A lot of motivational speakers would talk about working wise as the way to get to your goals quicker. On the other hand, there are many successful older people whose success stories tell you about working hard. So which one is it really? Does success take up as much work as most people make it out to be?

The answer, I believe, is we need both. We need to do work both hard and wise. Don’t work hard without first making sure to work wise. Do your homework⁠—research, think, identify your resources, and strategize. Then, work hard. Execute your plan. Take risks. Evaluate. Learn from your setbacks. It’s working hard and wise, together, always.

Patricia Li (Editorial Assistant)

Practically speaking, there’s definitely value in both working hard and working wise. It all depends in the work culture and industry you work in. And while of course the “right answer” for the debate is to have an equal balance of both, because solely focusing on either labor or efficiency will stretch you thin in some way, I do think there’s definite danger to simply working hard without really thinking about it.

Working wise, for me, is allowing yourself breathing space and time to assess your situation: your own work capacity, your amount of rest, your health, and your pace. The risk about working too hard⁠—about just working hard⁠—is risking burn-out. Work should be a means to an end, and not something worth sacrificing our own health and lives on.

Andreiana Yuvallos (Editorial Assistant)

To me, the main difference between working hard and working wise is the amount of effort you put into your work. When you work hard, you’re putting in a lot of effort and expect the same amount of return proportionate to the effort you’ve put in. In working wise, you’re exerting only the necessary amount of effort for maximum return.

The best way I can put it is when you’re building a house. Working hard is taking a hammer to a nail and expecting to have a fully formed house at the end of the project. Working wise is taking a nail gun and doing the exact same thing faster, but with less effort and better results. Human beings aren’t just blunt objects made to perform a certain task. We have analytical skills and other tools we can use to decrease effort and maximize results.

Lotie Mercado (Editorial Assistant)

I associate working hard with the traditional way of doing things, putting in the extra hours and all that jazz. With working wise, it’s about reduction and innovation. I see it as cutting out the unnecessary and figuring out new ways for better efficiency.

But then again, when we look at athletes and musicians, we see them training for 12 hours a day just to be eligible for their chosen path. In these cases, the traditional way of “working hard” goes into play. In some instances there is still no alternative to experience.

That being said, working wise for me is: Taking a step back, assessing the task at hand and figuring out if there is a way of streamlining it to be easier. Fuel runs out when you burn the lamp for too long, and the same goes for people.

Ultimately for me, working-wise is a prerequisite to working hard. It requires a lot of effort and skill to look at a seemingly daunting task at hand and turn it into something simpler.

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