“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Peter Drucker
In a world where we have to do more with less, especially with seemingly less time, we can caught up in the day to day habits rather than ensuring we are strategically targeting activities and tasks that will achieve the best outcomes for us.
We can be great at being busy, executing tasks well without understanding how they are impacting on our business or career and without consideration for how we could do things differently to create better outcomes. We focus on tasks that are easy, that we’re used to and are familiar to us. We don’t need to think too hard we just ‘do’.
As Timothy Ferris explains in his book ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’, Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task (whether important or not) in the most economical manner possible. Being efficient with out regard to effectiveness is the default mode of the universe.
He uses the example of someone who checks email 30 times a day. Now I know I have been guilty of this and probably to some degree still guilty on a bad day. Timothy explains that it may be efficient on some perverse level (look at my nice clean inbox!) but it’s far from effective. Constantly checking email is a true procrastination strategy in my world!
He goes onto share two truisms:
- Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.
- Requiring a lot of time does not make the task important.
What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.
If you find yourself nodding in agreement then you’re in good company. I think we would all be guilty of this to some degree. When we are complaining about being ‘so busy’ we may want to check in on what we are so busy doing. Even if you think you’re being efficient and effective there’s probably room for tweaking.
The question is what irrelevant tasks are you doing?
What came to mind for me are those meetings where they are a meeting for meetings sake without an agenda or outcome, coffee catch-ups just because I should and emails. Yes these are all necessary things but with time our most valuable commodity, do we need to do these differently to get better outcomes that will lead us closer to our goals? Do we need to ensure they are purposeful with an outcome? Do we need to cut the umbilical chord to emails? My guess is yes!
Take a step back and reflect on what you’re doing? Is it strategically relevant to your business or career goals? Can you do them differently to get a better outcome? Can you replace what you’re doing with something more effective to get better outcomes?
If you don’t stop now and reflect, you’re at risk of continually spinning those wheels. And who has time for that?