It’s become something of a cliché with business gurus and entrepreneurs that the key to success in business is hard work. But is it really? Most of us would say that we work hard. We often come into work early, stay late and can even be found responding to emails long into the evening.  And for the average person all this hard work hasn’t resulted in any great success. Sure, you’re doing OK but you’re not really setting the business world on fire. So where did this idea that hard work is all that’s required come from? And what is the real key to success in the business world? Carry on reading for our take on these important issues.

Time is money

Generally, when people say that they are working hard what they actually mean is that they are putting in a lot of hours. Time spent at work has become the measure of how hard we are working. It goes back to the beginning of the industrial age when workers clocked on and performed rote tasks or ran machines that had a static output per hour. Even now we see some professions hanging on to the idea that time is the measurement of how hard you are working – lawyers are the best example here.

However, things have thankfully moved on since the industrial age. The rise of the knowledge economy means that people are performing more high level, strategic tasks at work and the outputs are not always as obvious as they were in the factories of old.

But time spent at work has persisted in being the means by which we measure how hard we’re working. This is in spite of the fact that all of us intuitively know that working around the clock is often counterproductive when it comes to the quality of our output. Just because you’re salving at your desk long after your colleagues have left for the evening doesn’t mean that the quality of your work is any better.

So, if time is no longer the way to go, how should we be measure hard work?

Work smarter

The key to success at work is to work smarter. It’s not just about the hours you put in, it’s about the quality of your output. Focus on achieving more with the hours you spend at work rather than simply putting in more hours.

Working smarter involves deciding what will really move the needle forward for what you’re trying to accomplish each day and week, and then focusing on completing that task or project. Once you’ve achieved everything that you wanted to for the day, then it’s time to log off and head home as this is another important part of the success equation. Work/life balance is often cited as the modern holy grail and there’s no doubt that switching of your phone, resisting the temptation to logon to your emails and simply chilling at home help to improve your concentration and ability to cope with the challenges of the office.

So, if you’re looking to be more successful in your career, instead of spending long hours at the office, focus more on what you’re achieving during those hours. Working smarter and not just harder is the key to success.