"Hurry up, get it done!" "I want that in my inbox by 4pm this afternoon." "The client showed up unexpectedly early. Did you finish the prototype?"
Do any of these kinds of statements sound familiar to you? It seems in this age of digital power, we are inundated, indeed driven, on a minute-by-minute basis at times, to "get 'er done!" It's as if we have rockets strapped to our backs, and we are frantically trying to complete things for an early liftoff.
Management might term this as "initiative," or "self-starting" behavior, and in many ways it is admirable. But it points to a deeper element of our performance that seems to always lag, our so-called "efficiency."
Efficiency. What is it? At first glance it seems obvious: getting things done in the fastest manner, with no wasted effort, and with minimal stress. The image of a calm, cool, collected worker delicately sipping a latte while producing huge reports and maintaining a smile comes to mind.
Yet often we never stop to ask, what does it really mean to be efficient?
I heard a story once of a man who spent his life climbing the ladder of success. At the end of his life he was miserable, and a friend asked him why. He said, "I climbed up the ladder of success, only to realize too late that my ladder was against the wrong wall!"
What good is it to be amazingly streamlined, accurate, fast, and efficient at what you are doing, if you don't have a big picture in mind? It's all so much wasted effort.
A favorite quote of mine is, "it's more important to do the right things, than to do things right."
In other words, in our race to perfection, to get things done so cleverly and well, do we see the big picture and do the right things? The right things done inefficiently will always trump the wrong things done very efficiently.
So I'm trying to get you to think about how you work, and not only how, but what and WHY you work on each day. You'll spend a third of your life working, so it makes sense to take a step back and look at the big picture before rushing into getting something done "efficiently."
Another way to put it: what good does it do you to accomplish 1000 things perfectly well and quickly, if in the bigger picture those things are not very important, or even important at all?
One of my favorite techniques for creating true efficiency is to make a list of items you want to accomplish for a day, and then reorder the list to make sure the most important items are at the top of your list.
Then you're always assured that whatever task you are doing is the most important thing you can possibly do at that moment, creating true efficiency.
Blessings to all and a wonderful happy new year to you!