The smart way to work hard

I have been thinking more and more of late about the fact that the rapidly increasing rate of technology these days does not always result in us having more time on our hands. In fact it is very often just the opposite.

I remember a trip a took on the Orange River in Namibia about  three years ago. When you arrived at your base camp you packed all your valuables (cell phones, wallets, etc) into safe storage and off you went for 5 days. It was the most surreal feeling as we drove back into cell phone range after our trip. What had happened while we were away? Had any countries gone to war? Were regimes overthrown, what was going on in the world? Any of these things could have happened and we would not have had a clue.

Thirty years ago this feeling of being out of touch would have been quite normal but today it’s amazing to consider how “plugged-in” we are to the world around us due to technology.

The lesson I learned through this experience was that in order to have more time on my hands and be more relaxed I sometimes need to get away from technology.

How then do we approach technology with the right attitude so that we do not expect it to give us what it does not promise to give us?

“Bicycle of the mind”

In an interview Steve Jobs conducted in 1980 about how he founded Apple he refers to a study that the publication “Scientific American” conducted in the early 1970’s. The study was about the efficiency of locomotion.

His comment on the article was as follows: “I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. Humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list….That didn’t look so good, but then someone at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle and a man on a bicycle blew the condor away. That’s what a computer is to me: the computer is the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.”

The point therefore is that although humans may not have all of the most powerful or effective physical attributes in creation they do possess the superior ability to use their minds to create tools that amplify what we can do. Another example would be our voices, which are not the loudest or most powerful in nature. However, we have created sound systems with microphones, amplifiers and speakers that will give us a voice loud enough to project to stadiums filled with thousands of screaming people.

Desiring more

There is a catch though. In the example of the bicycle the human’s ability to travel efficiently is amplified so that with less effort he is able to achieve greater results. The catch lies in the fact that the human is now equipped with the power to do more. With the bicycle new opportunities exist. The human is able to go further in much less time and the net result is that more is achieved but a lot of energy is still used up and the human is not necessarily more relaxed … they are just achieving more.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. In the “old days” for example, business communication would have been in the form of letters which may have taken months to “send and receive”. This meant that things would have moved very slowly. Today we numerous methods of communicating instantly with anyone, anywhere in the world. The problem is that the expectation is that you are always available and you will receive more communication than you ever have before. So much so that you will probably find yourself checking emails just before going to bed and just after you wake up in the morning. You will even be checking email on your phone lying on the beach while on holiday rather than sitting back and relaxing because all your technology is working for you.

Ten years ago if you went on leave you would put a message on your mail server saying that you will be unavailable for the next two weeks and please contact the office. These days the message says that you will have limited access to your email while you are on leave. What this really means is “Im going on leave, if I have the will power I will not check my emails … but I probably will … but I may not reply … even though I know you are expecting me to!” Technology can actually haunt you if you don’t have the right attitude towards it.

Bicycles for the salon

“Work smarter not harder” is another concept that I have been reviewing in my thinking lately. It implies that there is an easier way to do things and although this is mostly true you usually still have to work hard but you can just achieve more.

In the hair salon this will be the case for your salon management software. As much as you want it to it is not going to operate itself. It does require hard work. However, it will enable you to achieve much more than you ever could with a manual system.

The salon management software system is therefore the equivalent of the “bicycle” and the manual system the equivalent of walking. Both require work but the software will take you further and will do it faster.

The secret lies in approaching your salon management software with this attitude. If you simply want to achieve what you are able to achieve with a manual system then it will be the equivalent of riding a bicycle and free-wheeling. You will not have to do very much. The problem is that this is not the reason why you would have computerised your salon. You will want to do far more … you will want to ride the “bicycle” further and get there faster.

Salon management software will give you computing power and speed that as humans we are simply not able to achieve. Our abilities are therefore amplified through the software.

This is very similar to hiring more stylists in your salon. With more stylists you are able to achieve more but you may end up working harder than before. However, if your time is invested in your people then your results will grow exponentially.

And so it is with your salon software. If you invest in ensuring that it is implemented correctly, that the right people are used to manage and maintain it and you have the right expectation of it then you will achieve what you desire.


What can we conclude then about technology and more specifically about your salon management system? For starters it is a tool. Its purpose is to amplify your capabilities and like a bicycle if you don’t ride it then it won’t get you anywhere. I don’t believe that there is a substitute for hard work, however, what you achieve in your hard work is a matter of how smart you work.