Even though we are efficient, efficiency will only get you so far and then you become overextended and the efficiency becomes insufficiency. When you are efficient, it means that you do things right and in a logical, practical way. The key to being efficient and productive is by finding the right next thing to do; the most important thing that needs to be done next.
I’ve talked and written many times about efficiency. As a result, I was intrigued by this comment over at lifehacker:
“My problem wasn’t that I was insufficiently efficient. The problem was that I was way too overextended. I had taken on more than even a very efficient person could handle. Efficiency is great, but it can only get you so far.”
I understand the problem. Many of us find (or should I say “get ourselves into”) ourselves overextended, over strained, and overstressed at some point in our lives, maybe even at this very moment.
In these times, is the solution to our troubles that we need to be more efficient? I think not.
In these cases, productivity has become a nebulous concept for all intents and purposes. Productivity is about doing things and that simply isn’t enough. It’s a good place to start, but you’ll need to move on from there.
Let’s turn our attention to the next logical area of focus: efficiency. Efficiency is about doing things right. Becoming more efficient allows you to accomplish specific tasks in the most proficient and cost-effective (in terms of time and money), as well as least wasteful, ways possible.
But this too falls short if your plate is full of too many items in the first place.
Being productive and efficient together isn’t sufficient, either. Doing many things proficiently that wind up taking a lot of your time doesn’t help if you aren’t able to choose the best and most important things to focus on.
So what’s the answer then? That’s where effectiveness comes in. Simply put, effectiveness is doing the right things. It means possessing the ability to direct your energies toward and accomplish those things that bring you nearer to your goals and objectives.
Being effective essentially eliminates the human drive to be busy for the sake of being busy, procrastinating, and becoming diverted by focusing on the unimportant. Effectiveness is where we all want to operate.
But wait a minute … Now you ask: “Of all the things in front of me that are available and that I’m fully capable of doing, how do I determine the “right things” to do first – to do NOW?”
Congratulations! You’ve hit the nail on the head. You’ve uncovered THE secret to “productivity” that you don’t commonly read about.
The key to being productive, efficient, and effective is simply to do the next right thing.
How do you figure out what the next right thing is? You want to reorder your life so that all the extraneous clutter is removed from your thought process. If that means you have too much going on – lose some of it, fast.
“If you are unhappy with anything… whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you are free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.” ~ Tina Turner, “The Queen of Rock & Roll”
Remove the distractions – it’s fairly straightforward to figure out what they are –and you’ll be clearer and more focused about doing the next right thing.
Thanks to Charan at Atlantic Canada’s Small Business Blog for including this post in the Carnival of Small Business Issues.