You don’t need more hard work, you need better mental models

Check your models

Peter Drucker has a great quote that I don’t think the majority of people in the IT industry, or in general, understand, which is “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”. We rarely check our internal mental models that dictate how we live our lives, and as a result of that, we tend to rely on hard work and business to get us to where we want to go. But luckily there is a much better way of achieving what we want, and it’s not hard work, it’s what Drucker calls “being effective”.

Effective vs Busy 

Try out a simple thought experiment, do you think Alber Einstein put in 10x more work than the other great physicists of his time? I doubt it, yet, he changed the world and no one else could have done it, why? Is it because he was more hard-working? I don’t think so, everyone at that level is hard-working, so they all put in almost the same amount of hours, but Einstein produced something 1000000x more valuable than the next best physicist of his time. What was the difference? I think it was how he used his time and not how much time he put in.

Mental models for the win

If you read Einstein’s work, you quickly see how his thinking differs from everyone else, he approached physics from a purely creative side, doing a lot of fun thought experiments, like imagining riding a particle of light. He had a different set of mental models on how he approached work, and that is what made all of the difference. He produced something no one else could, not even close. Even today we are struggling to really understand the depth of his theory and all of its implications


How often do we question our mental models? How often do we question how we solve problems and organize our workflow? That is where we will find all the productivity boost we need. 

Leave a Comment