• Planning ahead of time what it will take to achieve a desired outcome
  • Thinking through the priorities, resources, and methods necessary to achieve a specific result
  • Working smarter, not just harder, by leveraging knowledge, experience, team skills and available tools

"Work smarter, not harder." - Scrooge McDuck​

As a child of the 80s, one of my favorite TV shows was DuckTales (woo-hoo). Of all the various adventures that took place on the show, this quote always stood out to me. It just seemed like a great piece of advice. Or maybe it was just the aggressive syndication schedule that aired the same episodes over and over. Either way, the adage has stuck with me over the years, and time and time again it proves to be a good idea.
Of course, “work smarter, not harder” is also a core tenet of one of Funds For Learning’s GuideMarks: Work By Design. It means not just coming up with a plan, but executing it as well. As a senior developer on Funds For Learning’s Information Services team, working by design is fundamental to the way we do our work.
When programming, one of the core ideas is that code you write should be as modular as possible, and each piece should do only one specific thing. This lets you reuse your code later to do the same thing, without any extra cruft. In an ideal world, you’d never write the same piece of code twice. Things don’t always work out quite like that, but it is a goal you should always strive for.
For example, suppose you are writing a table to list an Applicant’s 2017 Funding Requests and you need to format their totals from plain numbers (12345.67) into US Currency ($12,345.67). The lazy way to do this would be to just write the code in-line with the rest of the page – but a better way would be to write a generic module that can be reused later. Fast forward six months and you are writing another page that also needs to format dollar amounts – you can just re-use the module you already wrote the first time. This is a trivial example of course, but it illustrates the idea.
However, in the real world, not everything is so nice and tidy; sometimes things go off the rails. Perhaps a bus broke down and everyone is running late. Maybe a deadline is suddenly changed and you need to scramble to adjust your resources. Or perhaps you just deployed a new feature to production that doesn’t work like it did in your test environment because a third-party library you use wouldn’t update due to conflicting dependencies in your development stack. (We’ve all been there, right?) When this happens, it is tempting to discard your plan and say “Work! Bye design.” But even when things go wrong, the ideals of this GuideMark Work By Design shows us a way to get things back on track.
By keeping Work By Design as one of our core GuideMarks, we are always reminded that we should take the time to plan things out ahead of time. This allows us to adjust resources to meet the needs of a project in an adequate amount of time, within a budget, and balanced correctly against other priorities.

Key Words and Phrases
Skillful use of time and energy; Good use of resources with little waste; Produce desired result effectively; Work smarter, not just harder; Potent; Fruitful; Efficient; Productive

Opposite Terms
Wasteful; Ineffective; Unproductive; Ill-planned


GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides

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