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PODCAST: The payoff of working smarter, not harder

Written on Mar 3, 2022

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager 
Working endless hours doesn’t necessarily equate to success, one business expert says. 

“Being a successful company and having a career don’t have to mean you sacrifice your family, life or health,” said Gwen Walker, an advisor at MauiMastermind, a business consultancy group. 

The ethos of working smarter and not harder is embraced in “The Freedom Formula, How to Succeed in Business Without Sacrificing Your Family, Health, or Life,” written by David Finkel, the CEO of Maui Mastermind. Walker joined the State of Business podcast to discuss the book and how professionals can implement it in their lives. 

Walker said the first half of the book is about how professionals as individuals can create more value in less time, and the second half investigates how to have the rest of the team put this into action. 

“Then when you get both halves of the equation done, that's how you can see doubling and tripling profit over a 12-to-36-month period by making smarter, better choices for the business,” Walker said. 

Walker said the cultural norm of “the early bird gets the worm” for many people translates to outworking the competition and working as long as you can. But it’s not simply about working hard, she said; it’s about where that challenging work is going that matters. Working long hours on low-value projects or every single task won’t make an impact and could result in burnout.  

For professionals who are overwhelmed with responsibilities, Walker said there are a variety of strategies to use to figure out how to best allocate time. One of those is choosing a “focus day or a push day.” 

“I pick one day a week, and I block off two to four hours,” Walker said. “And then I make sure that during that chunk, I only do my most valuable activity or activities. And it might only be one or two things. But if I know I can count on that every week for 45 or 50 weeks out of the year, you're going to get an amazing result.” 

Not everyone might be on board with this approach, Walker said, as some professionals might have a tough time determining what is low-value and what’s high-value. She said she encourages businesses to challenge the status quo and consider there might be a better way to allow each member of the team to do their best work and still have a life outside of their job. 

“To grow your firm the way you want, what you focus on must matter more,” Walker said. “So, it's not about more hours, more effort, more control. Rather, it's about better, meaning better choices, better focus and better alignment.”