Office: the new account manager

I often hear about success stories where the direct cause for the success is someone’s hard work and persistence. Although in my mind persistence is important, it seems that hard work is seriously overrated according to the founders of Flickr and a bunch of neuroscientists, as reported here and here. Now, this is an idea I fully support.

Here is what Caterina Fake has to say about working hard:

We agreed that a lot of what we then considered “working hard” was actually “freaking out”. Freaking out included panicking, working on things just to be working on something, not knowing what we were doing, fearing failure, worrying about things we needn’t have worried about, thinking about fund raising rather than product building, building too many features, getting distracted by competitors, being at the office since just being there seemed productive even if it wasn’t – and other time-consuming activities.

Much more important than working hard is knowing how to find the right thing to work on. Paying attention to what is going on in the world. Seeing patterns. Seeing things as they are rather than how you want them to be. Being able to read what people want. Putting yourself in the right place where information is flowing freely and interesting new juxtapositions can be seen. But you can save yourself a lot of time by working on the right thing. Working hard, even, if that’s what you like to do.

There are a few interesting things we can draw from Caterina’s experience. I’ve organised them in bullet points to be processed easily when it is needed and also added a few things on this subject I found out on my own. So here is the list.

How to Avoid Working Hard

  1. Find the right thing to work on.
  2. Pay attention to what is going on in the world.
  3. Look for patterns.
  4. See things as they are rather than how you want them to be.
  5. Read what people want.
  6. Put yourself in the right place where information is flowing freely and interesting new juxtapositions can be seen.
  7. Never, ever work for work’s sake.
  8. Even when you need to work hard, take a 10 minutes break every 40 minutes.
  9. Take it easy.
  10. Keep it simple.

I know for a fact that these things may sound like nonsense to some of you but there is some truth in them if you choose to embrace this kind of lifestyle.