Let’s pretend we have two characters.
One is named Clever, the other is Smart. They’re playing out the story of how we get things done.
Clever has you install a plugin that stops your browser from getting to social media and other distracting sites.
Smart has you completely kill all access to the web, because you’ll probably end up loading up another browser, one without the plugin.
This probably means blocking your internet access by schedule via your router.
That’s very smart, because you don’t have to make the choice to do the right thing more than once. A machine will do it, and a machine doesn’t care that you’re bored or just want five minutes more of browsing.
Clever has you prioritise all your projects.
Smart has you eliminate all but the most important one.
This one is also doubly smart as it removes the choices for you. When there’s only one thing to do, you only have one choice.
Clever has you work in a quiet library or modern cafe, away from the distractions at home, amongst a heap of inspiration and hipsters.
Smart would rather you work out of the trainstation or the cafe that serves the worst coffee in town because it knows that the library has a bajillion years of culture, and the modern cafe has free wifi when you buy a muffin.
Clever has you taking the batteries out of the remote.
Smart has you taking the TV out of the house.
Clever tells you to imagine a future in which you do or don’t finish your current project and how great or awful that’d be.
Smart tells you to stop daydreaming and get to work.
Clever makes you think about how good it’ll be when you succeed.
Smart help you see how many people you might help.
The smart thing isn’t always the easy thing to do. It’s often very hard. But if we wish to hone our crafts and achieve those goals of ours, we need to sacrifice something, and I’d happily sacrifice clever on the alter of smart.
And because I’m always saying “here’s the thing,” here’s the thing:
When we do the clever thing we give ourselves a pat on the back.
When we do the smart thing, we get work done.