I was once told by a friend that success is to “work smarter, not harder” — what she meant by this, was that it isn’t impressive to be the last person to leave the office if it’s because it takes you 12 hours to complete a task that might only take 5 hours for someone else to do. We get caught up in the details, paralyzed by fear of making mistakes if we work faster. We might feel a little unmotivated at times because our position isn’t a challenging one. And if it is an overly-challenging position, we might even feel burnt out and too overwhelmed to do better. So what to do?

Here are some ways to work smarter, AND harder for success:

1. Show up, Sit Down, Get it Done
This point seems like common sense, but it’s surprisingly not. A lot of people shy away from the opportunity to own a project or job task. The way I see it, don’t make excuses or create hurdles for yourself — just show up, sit down, and get it done.

2. Reputation, no matter the industry, follows you
We think that the things that we do may not come back to haunt us, but what we might be forgetting is how small this world actually is (especially with social media). Impressions (first, second, and one hundredth) are extremely important. All it takes sometimes is one bad review to cancel out all of your great achievements when trying to land your next gig.

3. Flexibility and fun breeds innovation
It’s important to have structure in your workflow but not necessarily in your workplace. If you find that you’re much more productive in a coffee shop or with headphones in, then do what works for you. Oh, and have some fun while doing it.

4. Breathe. Don’t let the nerves get to you.
We all have moments at work when things seem to be a bit overwhelming – a deadline, a boss, a co-worker, all of the above, etc. The key to success here, is to breathe. Things aren’t as bad as they seem. If you can keep calm and divide and conquer, I promise things will be easier.

5. Be the hardest worker.
Contrary to what my friend told me, I think it’s important to be the hardest worker as well as a smart worker. Being smart isn’t enough if you’re lazy or doing your work without intention. The trouble with choosing one over the other is that you think that they aren’t two separate entities that need to work together in order to achieve success. Work smarter, AND harder.

What advice do you have to be a smarter and harder worker to achieve success?