If you reply to every email the minute it pops into your inbox, answer the phone as soon as it rings, and are always on top of your everyday admin you probably think that being efficient is a good thing. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case! If you want to get more out of your day it’s critical you make an important distinction in the way you manage your time…
Time Management Guru Peter Drucker once said that “effectiveness is the critical quality that distinguishes great achievers from everyone else” and that’s because what you do – or in other words how effective you are – is infinitely more important than how you do it – or how efficient you are. Don’t get me wrong, efficiency is still important, but it’s useless unless applied to the right things.
So effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals, whereas efficiency is performing a given task – whether it’s important or not – in the most economical way possible. For example, checking your email 30 times a day and developing an elaborate system of filing emails is very efficient, but NOT effective (unless one of your key goals is to file emails!).
In order to manage your time in the best way possible it’s critical that you look at how effective you’re being versus how efficient you are. All too often when I see my client’s ‘to-do’ lists they’re peppered with ‘time filler’ tasks that do nothing other than make them feel very busy but which don’t contribute to the goals they’re looking to achieve.
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Being efficient doesn’t necessarily mean that you are being productive. Just because you’re busy and getting things done doesn’t mean you’re actually accomplishing anything significant. Ultimately you can find yourself spending most of your day treading water and wading through your ‘to-do’ list, leaving no time to work ON your business, develop your career, or do something completely different with your time that contributes to your key goals.
Think about how many times you’ve spent the day running around like a headless chicken, incredibly busy, but you’re left feeling unsatisfied at the end of the day. This happens all the time!
Dr Phil likes to say that you ‘can’t change what you don’t acknowledge‘, which is very true. That’s why recognizing where you have a tendency to fill your time is critical because far too many people waste time focusing on the things that aren’t actually important, and instead busy-themselves with tasks that simply make them efficient but not effective.
Two other key points to remember are firstly, that doing something unimportant WELL does not make it important – so getting bogged down, being a perfectionist and spending far too long on a task that’s at the bottom of your list of priorities isn’t going to make that task anymore important that it was at the start.
Secondly, requiring a lot of time to do something also does not make a task important. Just because you’ve got to complete a project that’s going to take a few months doesn’t make that project necessarily important. To be as productive as possible it’s critical that you constantly differentiate between the tasks that are important to your job and your goals, and the other things you do that fill your time and are a lower priority.
When you make the distinction between being effective versus efficient, and choose to plan your day around tasks that actually help you achieve your key goals, you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in your productivity and success levels!
What do you do that makes you effective? Post a comment below and let me know…
Written by Faye Hollands – Director at Outshine Consulting.
Faye is an accomplished Career Coach and Time Management Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success. You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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