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Effective is Not the Same as Efficient

Effective is Not the Same as Efficient
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Are you efficient, effective, or efficiently effective? As you are focused on getting things done efficiently you may be making very quick decisions. You rapidly move through tasks and check things off your To-Do list one, two, three. You look productive because there is activity, your list is full of check marks or strikeouts showing completion, and your calendar shows meetings. That To-Do list isn’t too long and overwhelming because you’re on it. The question is:

Are doing the right things? The key to effectiveness is that you’re doing things that lead to results in the realm of your responsibilities. Meanwhile the key to efficiency is getting your things done in a manner that consumes just the appropriate amount of energy and resources.

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Examining efficiency in automobiles: a fuel efficient vehicle gets more miles to the gallon. A car with a mile per gallon (mpg) rating of 50, like a Toyota Prius, is thought to be a mighty efficient car. And it is. However, a Prius wouldn’t always be an effective car. For example, if you had to pull a trailer loaded with your favorite outdoor toy; a camper, a power boat, or a fleet of motorcycles, a Prius probably doesn’t have the horsepower to pull the trailer. It might not even move away from the parking spot. It’s effectiveness in the specific application is low or null.
Personal efficiency is related to the systems that you have in place – the things that allow you to accomplish the most easily. Some characteristics of people who are efficient are:

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  • You are organized. You can find things quickly.
  • You know how to use the tools on your computer to the nth degree
  • You write readable and actionable emails
  • Your meetings are well run
  • You process all the expense reports turned in to you at one time and on a regular schedule (for example)
  • You know how to work well with your assistant

Personal effectiveness is closely related to education, experience, and expertise. Your effectiveness is supported by personal efficiency but it’s not the same thing. Education, experience and expertise are the things that give you the ability to meet the goals you have. If you are accomplishing goals that are not your goals continually – you are not being effective. You are being active but not effective. Examples of effectiveness are:

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  • Meeting deadlines for reports or other contributions
  • Making quota
  • Earning the amount you target
  • Taking the personal time you desire
  • Leading your team to define and execute a project

Let’s briefly view the elements of education, experience and expertise as they contribute to your effectiveness.

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Education is formal education in college, high school or other institutions. It is also tutoring you receive from a mentor or boss. Education comes from those classes you add to your work week such as Negotiation Skills or Managing a Team workshops. Education is advanced as you read and learn independently.

Experience and expertise are the accumulation understanding, savvy and wisdom resulting from involvement and history. Seeing how things are done and hearing evaluations of actions and decisions yields experience. Finding and remedying mistakes is often the fastest path to expertise. Those things that lead you to think, “I’ll never do that again,” yield loads of experience and expertise.

Efficiency and Effectiveness are different and combined lead to an unstoppable result orientation which feeds success. See how you can find more of each then watch where you go from there!

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why We Procrastinate After All?

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

Is Procrastination Bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How Bad Procrastination Can Be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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Procrastination, a Technical Failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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