The Secrets to Being Great at Work? Simplify and Reflect


Tired of working harder at work and not getting ahead? With a simple shift in your current work habits "Great at Work" can turn your average day at work into a high-powered journey into workplace greatness.

The Secrets to Being Great at Work? Simplify and Reflect

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If “working smarter, not harder” was only a matter of spending less time or effort at work, work would be a breeze. The problem is, no one really knows what “working smart” means. For some, “working smart” means doing work in less time. For others, “working smart” means doing work with less effort. No matter how you define”working smart”, we all have different definitions.

The goal of Great at Work: How Top Performers Go Less, Work Better, and Achieve More is to break down the “work smart, not hard” concept for a better day at work.

What is Great at Work About?

The premise behind Great at Work developed when author Morten T. Hansen realized that clocking in 80+ hours wasn’t helping him anymore. Despite working all of those hours, his work was still not as good as his coworker who left everyday at 5 p.m. In trying to figure out why “working harder” wasn’t enough, Hansen devoted himself to studying the habits of high-achieving professionals from various fields. He came away from that journey with seven “work smart” principles and a new perspective on the world of habits and work.

The seven principles of Great at Work challenge long-held beliefs about what it takes to be a success at work. According to the book, a lot of what we do at work (both workers and management) actually slows us down. As Hansen shares in the book, our society places a lot more focus on the “actions” of work instead of the actual purpose of work. We pride ourselves on hours worked, not on what was done in those work hours. Employers are given annual performance reviews, when their daily performance will make or break the business.

Throughout the whole book, Hansen urges readers to do two things: simplify and reflect. These two activities, as the book shares, are what the modern workplace is truly lacking. We don’t need another fancy productivity tool or trendy new buzzword to improve our performance in the workplace. By simplifying what we work on and reflecting on how we are working, we can drastically improve our performance without sacrificing our life. “Great at Work” shows the path toward that reality with its seven principles, taken one step and one day at a time.

Hansen is a management professor (University of Californa, Berkley & INSEAD), researcher, author, and speaker and coauthored the popular best-selling book, “Great by Choice”.

What Was Best About Great at Work?

The best part of Great at Work is the thought-provoking questions and issues that the book raises about work and success. For example, Great at Work challenges the rising pressure to collaborate as well as the idea that teams should be free of conflict. These ideas aren’t being discussed in other books, but they should be.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

There isn’t much to dislike in Great at Work. The book is full of inspirational content for work at every level. One area that could be expanded upon is the last chapter, “Mastering Your Work Life”. The chapter doesn’t go into as much detail as most in the book. And it would have been nice to see more discussion on how to adopt the “work smart” principles to unique situations in life.

Why Read Great at Work?

Great at Work is an awesome read because it makes the world of high-achieving professionals accessible to everyone. Each chapter builds on the central idea that simple habits and focus are what we need at work. Hansen’s research-backed tips summarized into seven basic principles shows how anyone can leverage that central idea to become consistently better, no matter if you’re on the front lines or in the C-suite. If you ever wanted a way to improve your productivity at work, without sacrificing time or additional energy, this book will show you how to refine your current routine for greatness.

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Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.