If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my axe.” Abraham Lincoln.

Let’s try to put ourselves in Lincoln’s shoes. Why does he need to sharpen his axe for six hours when he has just eight hours to complete the task? He is probably wanting to ensure that the axe is sharp enough to allow him finish chopping the tree in two hours. It would be a tragedy to spend eight hours on the task and still not finish it because the axe is dull. That sounds like smart work. Let’s try to make an analogy between hard work and smart or intelligent work.

Before the invention of modern means of transportation, people would travel on foot for hundreds of kilometers to get to where they are going or travel very far to the stream or river to get water. Today, the same journey that would have taken two days to complete on foot, can now take just one hour or fifteen minutes, depending on the means of transportation you choose. You can also have water running from the tap in your bathroom. Unless you are doing a charity walk, it would be ridiculous to embark on a foot journey for two days when you can go in a car, or travel to the stream to fetch water when you have it running from the tap in your bathroom. When you use less effort to accomplish a task with more efficiency, you are working smart.

If you want to be successful, you have to work both hard and smart. For example, it takes a lot of effort to study a topic until you master it. Ever wondered why the highest paid people are people who do the most thinking? Sue Grafton gives us the answer in this quote, “Thinking is hard work, which is why you don’t see many people doing it.” However, if you can muster the mental discipline to think very deeply about things, you will surely succeed. Please do not run away from stressing your brain to find solutions to problems because it is hard work. Remember, all hard work pays.

When you work smart, you will save a lot of time. Again, you may have heard that “time is money.” People will pay you money if you can help them save time. Think about why you have to pay for transport fare. It is because the driver is saving you time. For example, if you are struggling with a particular topic, you can pay someone to explain to you, saving you time. Recently, I bought a software, but I did not know how to use it. I spent almost a week on Youtube trying to figure out how to use the software. Then I thought that I could quickly pay someone to teach me. I paid the person, and within 30 minutes, I had known what I could not in a whole week.

You also have to remember the goal you are trying to achieve as you work both hard and smart. The best principle I can recommend is work hard until you know enough to be able to work smarter. At the initial stages of taking up any task, you are going to find it difficult. As time goes on, you will find that it becomes more comfortable for you. If you have learned how to play any musical instrument, you will easily relate to this. You start as a complete novice, no matter how smart you are. If you work hard practicing, you will soon find that you can play well. Always look at the goal in front of you to motivate you to work both hard and smart. 

If you apply this principle, there is no way you will not succeed. If you have any issues, please reach out to us on info@b2sl.org and we’ll be there to support you. 

I will love to hear from you. So, please drop your questions or comments in the comment section below. 



Alero Babine is a writer, professional photographer, and Secretary of B2SL, where she works to empower teenagers to succeed. You can reach her on alero@b2sl.org

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Showing 16 comments
  • Adimah Christian

    Wow…awesome knowledge.working hard takes time while working smart saves time..nice one.

  • Ajilore Daniel O.

    Interesting and cognitive article
    “…The Best principle I can recommend is work harder until you know enough to work smarter….”

    #my new daily_watchword
    #God bless B2SL
    #God bless my hard work


    • Oluwatoyin

      That sublime
      Brilliant write up
      And i also love the principle
      Thanks for the words of motivation😊

    • Aiyedusho Beatrice

      Motivating and inspiring…..I’ll always keep in mind that hardwork and smartness works hand in hand together.

  • Jimoh Nofisat

    As the words implies,both differs from each other but works together
    For instance,in the ancient days,while trying to get to a far place,it’s possible to take days on the road even when putting efforts on it,that’s HARDWORK
    But now, the invention of modern transport means makes it easier within few minutes,that’s SMARTWORK
    Working smart saves time while working hard saves money

  • Solomon prince

    Wow, it’s amazing I love dis write up so impressive

  • Omole Eninlaloluwa

    It was really an interesting and a motivating one. I learnt that hard work pays and one needs to invest all possible resources so as to achieve success as well as save time.

    Thanks for this wonderful post.
    More wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

    • Promise Akande

      It’s really a challenging post.
      Thank you
      I learnt a lot

  • Olaniyan ismail


  • Henry Ibrahim

    “The best principle I can recommend is work hard until you know enough to be able to work smarter.” Without also trying to work smart, hard work can itself become a work so hard to do.

  • Foye

    Impactful piece

    • Idealist Oyekola Afusat

      This is amazing, I really gain a lot from it, That’s so impressive.

  • Aiyedusho Victoria

    Wow…..”work hard until you know enough to work smarter”
    Don’t just work hard, work towards being smart

  • Opeyemi

    Nice write up
    I will start working not only harder but smarter

    • Bimbo

      What an awesome lesson to learn , work very hard apply wisdom with it to be smart.

  • patek philippe replica

    Between sending my kids to college and buying this watch..the choice was simple

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