How to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Dan Silvestre
12 min readSep 13, 2018

A while back I wrote an email to myself with my own personal rules on how to be productive. It distills all the lessons I’ve learned throughout the years about productivity and working smarter. That email serves as a constant reminder when I am feeling unproductive or things are just not working out the way they should.

Here are my 10 commandments on how to be productive so you can start working smarter instead of harder:

#1 Focus on Systems Instead of Goals

We are taught from an early age to pursue goals: get good grades, be in the starting team of a sport, get promoted at your job. You work as hard as you can and you’ll hopefully achieve your goal.

However, most goals are out of our control. We have a limited control to reach it. We don’t control the future, other people’s actions, the economy or the environment, among many other variables. And that’s exactly why our focusshould be on systems rather than goals. In a system, you focus is on all the parts that you do control.

“System” is a fancy word for “repeatable process”. Getting 500 subscribers in your blog is a goal, writing 500 words a day is a repeatable process. Running a marathon is a goal, running 4 days a week for 30 minutes is a repeatable process. Losing ten pounds is a goal, upgrading your diet to eat healthier every meal is a system.

Reward effort instead of achievement: small gains compound over time.

And that leads us to the beauty of the compound effect…

#2 Leverage the Compound Effect

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.” — Albert Einstein

Compound interest is a concept from finance and economics, which refers to the addition of interest to the main initial deposit. It’s interest on interest.Assuming a 10% growth rate and a $100 initial deposit, you get…



Dan Silvestre

Performance coach helping leaders get the right things done with less effort than anything they've tried before. Join 20k+ readers: