How To Become More Effective By Working Smarter Instead Of Harder

Efficiency is often a mental trap. You think that, because you’re so busy and moving so quickly, you must be getting somewhere. In fact, the reverse is often true. The “I-have- never-worked-so-hard-and-got-so-little-done” feeling is an indication that results are not being produced even with the effort expended.

You will achieve your goals on schedule only by learning to transform efficiency into effectiveness. You will then discover that:

  • Every action has a purpose.
  • Interruptions are consciously eliminated.
  • Rushed motion gives way to rational movement.
  • Unbalancing surprises become a thing of the past.
  • You are seldom caught off guard.
  • Your life is planned, stress-free, and seldom behind schedule.
  • Excuses for being late are left behind.
  • Deadlines are met.
  • Your life and your time line are under your control.

Any day of your life can be divided into a series of activities, from brushing your teeth to stopping at the cleaners on the way home from work to writing an important letter or even calling your mother. Not all of your daily activities are of equal importance, and your mission is to organize and prioritize all activities into a working plan. You then work your plan in order, from the high-priority activities to the low-priority activities, until all are complete or you run out of time at the end of the day. If you’re as busy as most people, you will find yourself running out of time far more often than you complete your list. No problem. There is always tomorrow. However, it is the number of priority activities you can complete each day that will determine how many of your goals and dreams you achieve each year.

Use the 20/80 rule to prioritize your daily activities. Once you have identified the 20 percent of activities on your list that are the most important, divide these activities into ”must-do!’, and ”should-do” categories. Must-do activities are those that if not accomplished by a specific time or deadline will create additional undesirable, time-consuming problems. Give these must-do activities your top priority. They will include activities such as:

  1. Paying a parking ticket today to prevent the fine from doubling.
  2. Attending your daughter’s play at 8 p.m. (Yes, all personal activities should be included and prioritized, as they are no less important to your success and sense of values.)
  3. Showing up for the departmental meeting at 3:15 p.m., as requested by your boss.
  4. Putting gas in the car on the way home so you won’t run out on your way to work tomorrow.

Often, must-do activities will contribute to the accomplishment of your goals and dreams, but many of them, although necessary, are not the most productive. However, you are still being effective when you spend time on the necessary but not-so-productive must-do activities, because the non-completion of these activities would cost you additional time and energy later on. In other words, you either do these activities now or pay an even greater price later on.

Why Being Efficient May Not Bring You the Results You Want

As you create your success goals and put that personal blueprint into action, you will come to be aware of the great difference between efficiency and effectiveness.

  • Efficiency is the process of staying busy all the time, with idle moments.
  • Effectiveness is the process of producing the maximum results in the minimum time, with the minimum effort.

Most people spend their lives attempting to become more efficient. Yet efficiency is not the key to getting more done. How many times have you thought to yourself at the end of a day: “I was so busy today I just couldn’t seem to catch my breath, but I still didn’t get much done.”

That feeling is the trademark of efficiency – lots of action, but lack of results.

Your dreams, goals, and action plans are all about results. They have little to do with the process of staying busy. In fact, there is some conflict. Look again at the definition of effectiveness and you will notice that the objective is to produce results with minimum time and effort, not maximum “busyness” and hard work.



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