Michael LeBoef said, “Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing.” Therefore, being successful is not just about how hard you work—it’s about how smart you work.
There’s a big difference between activity and accomplishment. Activity is being busy, but as Henry David Thoreau once said, “It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are [you] busy about?”
A great example of how to prioritize time to accomplish the most important objectives for any given day is found in Exodus 18.
The Israelites were bringing disputes to Moses which took the entire day to resolve. In verse 13 it says, “People were standing in line from morning until evening waiting on Moses to judge their disputes.” Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, noticed this was not a good thing because Moses was working harder, not smarter. Jethro offered Moses some advice and in verses 17-23 said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you. You teach the Israelites the statutes and laws. You select capable men to resolve the disputes.” In essence, Jethro was saying, “You can check off all the items on your daily to-do list, but I recommend that you prioritize your day around what you need to accomplish the most.”
Although it’s admirable to be ambitious and hardworking, it’s more desirable to be smart working. You see, the key to becoming a more efficient worker isn’t checking off all the items on your to-do list each day. It’s forming habits of recognizing and prioritizing your time so that you are accomplishing your most important objectives for any given day. When you’re able to do that, it won’t be long before you exceed your own expectations.