One thing I want to address up front: anytime you talk about working a little extra people want to pile in on the conversation saying “don’t.” They say how productive they are vs. the people that stay late just to impress the boss, etc.
Let Me Be Clear
I will never advocate for keeping a chair warm. Way too many people take 25 hours worth of work and spread it over 40–50 hours. Even worse, they stay late or come in on weekends and don’t get much done beyond the 25 hours of work they originally did.
Come on! If you’re just keeping a chair warm go home and do something else with your time. Your managers are not as dumb as you think. They know who is productive and who is kissing ass.
It is a modern-day fallacy to believe that everyone clocking 50–60+ hours is actually working hard and being productive for those hours. Very few people bust their ass from the beginning to end.
So Here We Go
Understand you won’t find many people outside of the extremely talented that reach high goals. The talented have something special, the rest of us have to work hard for it.
The first step to leaving your co-workers behind, building your business or hitting any other goal that is hard to attain is spending your time wisely.
If you have 25 hours worth of work, do it in 25 hours and find something else to do that is productive and moving your goals forward for the additional hours. Knock out your work and ask: “What’s next?” Keep contributing to the project at hand in every way possible, no chilling.
When climbing the corporate ladder, the same rules apply. While you’re competing with people talking about work-life balance, all you have to do is a little extra to get ahead. Long gone are the days of 70–80 work weeks for most people. Since a bulk of people want a straight 40, you just need to work a very productive 45.
So be ultra-productive in the 40 hours you work and use that extra 5 hours to get ahead.
What is 5 hours a week more? It’s coming in a half hour early and staying a half-hour late every day. Something you learn quick is that no one cares how early you leave in the morning, so get up and get moving. Whether you wake up at 6, 6:30 or 7, you will be tired. That’s life! So get up and gain a little more time on your day.
There are many different ways to add the 5 hours a week. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it and be productive with those 5 hours.
Now The Real Key
An additional 2.5 hours a week, taking you from 45 to 47.5, isn’t even work.
It is continuous improvement of self.
Spend 2.5 hours a week READING. You can read anywhere from 2 to 4 books a month by doing this. I rarely run into successful people that are not well read. I do run into many people that haven’t made it, nor will they, that have the mentality that they went to college and they don’t need to learn anymore.
For many people, in this fast-changing world, you’re going to wake up 10 years from now and realize that most of the things you learned 10 years ago doesn’t matter anymore. So, you must keep learning!
And the reading isn’t just about making more money or becoming more successful, it is a lifelong investment in yourself.
People argue with you when you say work hard. They combat it with “I would rather work smart.”
It’s not a one or the other thing, do both! Work your ass off, doing smart work!
Keep learning and don’t stop ever.
If you’re really trying to get ahead, building a business, becoming world-class at something, it is going to take more than average output to achieve that.
Work smart, go hard and even when you reach your goal, don’t stop. Blow right past it and ask: “What’s next?”
Originally published at medium.com