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(1) Smart vs Hard work: Quality vs Time

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

As the world continues to move along faster and faster, I guess there is no debate on the fact that smart workers will continue to be in more demand than just the plain hard working types. So, what makes someone turn into the smart variety? While there are a number of different factors, I'd like to focus on quality vs time in this article. Don't get me wrong, this is not to state that one should not work hard.

"I love to deliver the highest quality of work always. So I will take the time required to do it!".

I used to be a victim of this philosophy for many years. Still probably am in certain situations. If you are on that end of the spectrum where quality means everything, you will probably empathise with what I have to say. The challenges I've experienced living my life with this approach included the following (and few more!).

Never satisfied

I've always found ways of doing it better. So when you think you are done and ready to deliver, you feel like doing a little bit more. A few more tweaks. So you get into a time squeeze, increasing stress levels for everyone around you. Quite often letting other 'not-as-critical' tasks fall through the cracks.

Bad at delegation

Never satisfied with someone else's work. Take a long time to accept and start trusting another contributor's work. Many a time, it is simply the strong emotional connect with the job which comes in the way of delegation. Obviously, not a great model when you need to focus on bigger issues or wish to scale.

Take a long time to finish

You and your 'customer' agree about what needs to be done. But then you take the call on how it should be done and define what the meaning of 'done' is. At times, the 'customer' is looking for a quick short term fix, but you want to give it the best possible shot -with all the frills- and take a lot longer to finish up. You are satisfied in the end, but the customer is not happy with the time taken nor is he willing to pay for the extra effort. Give the dying man water from the nearest source, don't go looking for a health drink.

I could add a few more to this list, but I'm guessing you've got the big picture. Over the years, I've mulled over this many times and mellowed a bit I'd say. All tasks need not be treated with the same level of importance. After all, time and resources are not unlimited. Not even if these are my own tasks and I'm my own 'customer'. So it boils down to prioritisation. Figuring out right at the start - how much is enough! This can happen if we have an understanding of the true objective behind each task. The goal behind accomplishing an activity. Once that is clear, the 'value' becomes clear. Makes it easier to budget the time and effort. And then, we need to be clear in our minds about not succumbing to old habits!

There are two types of tasks, broadly speaking. One which involves creativity and the other which does not. The urge to go overboard is more when one is chasing creative goals. If you are in that stage of life where nothing else matters, then what the heck! Else, you better get smart.

Lastly, for those who are blessed with a total sense of being cool, casual and completely detached from quality, aesthetics and finesse - it does help to appreciate the importance of these traits and going the extra mile! How else will you go up the value chain ? Try and find that right balance. Deliver on time. Always.

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