You hear it often enough.

“Look at that guy, he’s working really hard.”

“I had to work hard at this project.”

“I’ll do it, but it’s going to be a lot of hard work.”

How do we know something is hard work? Is it because it takes longer? Requires more focused energy? Isn’t immediately or easily solvable?

If someone gets to work early and stays late, does that mean they’re a hard worker? If someone works just six hours a day but gets more productive work done, isn’t that person working harder (or at least smarter)?

Seems to me there’s at least a significant difference between hard work and working longer hours. They don’t necessarily correlate, even though we tend to compare long hours to working hard.

If someone’s sending email late at night to colleagues, it’s assumed they’re working hard. But maybe they were so inefficient during the day that they had to work late to catch up on the real, productive work.

Is that hard work? Or just inefficiently using the time for work that you have?

Time shouldn’t define work. Output should. Hard work is defined by value, not necessarily what it took to get there.

By definition, hard work produces something that’s not easy (otherwise everyone would have done it many times over by now). Does it really matter if it takes two hours or 20 hours or 200 hours to generate the result or outcome or value?

There are clearly some problems that require far more work time than others. But you don’t get credit for all that time if you don’t produce anything.

Hard work requires the journey, but it shouldn’t be defined by the journey. The definition of hard work, in my opinion, is the value created at the end.

Curious to hear what you think about this too.