This time focusing on how to help you be more efficient. But there is a catch in this article. First things first, let’s see what do YOU think it means to be efficient? Comment bellow and let’s all brainstorm together!
Now, to begin: before I started writing this article I did a very wide, very important and big research. Why? Well because as you know, all people are extremely different, and what makes someone effective doesn’t necessarily lead them to be more efficient.
Yeah, that’s right, I actually found out from Kayvon K., an entrepreneurial coach, that these two are completely different things. I wasn’t really thinking about it before but he made an amazing point.
This is it:
Being effective and being efficient are two different things and in order to be efficient, first, you need to be effective.
What’s the difference?
- In terms of Kayvon, effectiveness is actually about people, meaning, it is a matter of engagement and actually making an impact in what you do. After you have made an impact the results will follow. For all you business people out there, this means going from something simple as planning your day to be more effective, up until knowing and planning the road of your business and where you desire it to be in 5-10 years.
- On the other hand, efficiency is about systems and it is about being efficient in a matter of trying to do things better, faster and cheaper. So for all the people starting a business or wanting to work in a start-up, saying you are efficient means you can actually do things, better, faster and cost them less money.
And this is exactly what I am here to help you with.
But let’s repeat first: in order to become more efficient, you have to be more effective in what you do. So these next five steps will be about both and it will include some personal advices to how you can actually become more effective and efficient.
Make A Plan And Establish Your Priorities
Why is this important? Well, according to Sun Tzu and the ¨Art of War¨, all battles are won before the actual fight, but with planning. So, in order to build a house with a firm base, you have to lay down the basics. This is your research or your plan.
You live a busy life? Making a schedule can actually help you a lot, and help you stay focused on your day to day activities.
I used to lead a very chaotic day to day life, and I just couldn’t keep up with everything I had to do. There just wasn’t enough time in my day. Well sorry but that was bull. We all have the same amount of time, so how could other people deal with everything and I couldn’t.
So I took a long hard look at my activities, my work, chores I had when I got home, my social and interpersonal life and I saw that my day wasn’t planned out properly. So I did some research and I found out a way that helped me. The organisational boost came from an Urgent Important matrix that allowed me to actually see what activities were necessary and what things I could delegate and what things I didn’t even want or need to do. It is a great time management tool which can help you stay on point and be honest about your plans.
To be honest, it will not take you more than 15 minutes before each day or before bed to organise yourself for tomorrow. Of course it is important to acknowledge that every plan can go sideways and that you will need to leave room for that (just in case it happens).
This is also a great way to establish your priorities, because the matrix will make you see what is urgent and important and what needs to be done straight away, what is important but can wait a little more time and can be delegated to someone who does have time, and what you shouldn’t waste time.
Let’s take the example of chores at home. These are kinda inevitable and oh so necessary and somehow always there. So this is important but actually not urgent and it can wait another day. I for example plan a day to do all the things I need to do around the house. This is usually a day when I see I have the least stuff to do after which I can be lazy also. If you don’t have this time, I suggest you take a few things at a time, and plan them around the whole week, this way you will always have more time for other things. Don’t forget to rest.
Throw Out Non Important And Non Urgent Activities
Now that you know about the urgent important matrix, and you have established what things need to be done urgently and fast, you can shift your focus to the last quadrant and see what things are neither urgent nor important, and since that is the case, they can be thrown out.
I have to emphasize, don’t get discouraged at first if you don’t have a lot of things in that last quadrant, it is about focusing more on your needs rather than someone else’s. This is hard in the beginning, but in case your days are filled with a lot of activities and chores and other people and you just never have time for yourself, it is possible that these things are draining your efficiency and effectiveness. Focusing on a lot of things and multitasking at once can cause your productivity and efficiency levels to drop drastically.
Try focusing on one thing at a time, this will help your attention span to stay focused on one thing longer and focus on the plans you need to make and even brainstorm new ideas to how you can reach your goal faster and better (which is the point of this article).
So let’s see: what are the things from your last quadrant? Comment below and let’s see if there are more!
This can vary from going out with your friends on a day where you just worked your ass off and you just want to relax at home to simply doing something you said you would just because you didn’t know how to say no. It is important to have time for yourself in case you want to be fresh, productive and efficient the next day, so don’t feel bad for being selfish with these things.
Go Big Or Go Home
Now this topic has a few sides from which I choose to look at it.
First: It is something all business schools preach.
Often people choose to focus too much on the research, and although I did say it is an important part, it shouldn’t take you more than a day.
Because the ¨problem¨ isn’t at the beginning. All potential issues will be along the road and you will have to learn how to face them and failure.
Second: After you have stability, your courage increases.
This actually means that you have the opportunity to make certain important things stable and take a big leap of faith on others.
Specifically, Ramit Sethi, talked about this in this video with Tim Ferriss who wrote ¨The Four Hour Workweek¨. He explained how he made 3 things in his life stable and secure: a place where he can live, his car, and the relationships he developed in his life (family, friends and love life). After that he explains how you will have the audacity and courage to take a bigger risk in order to achieve more.
So let’s talk about the first part.
How are you with failure? Are you scared of it? Do you have no problem staring it in the eye? Or do you simply not care?
The thing is, failure is a part of life and it will happen. Business school preach that often students will focus on doing an extended research but they don’t actually learn much useful information from their research. And that they should, in fact, focus more on the issues and problem with their potential businesses. Why?
Because getting under the problem before it happens can help you deal with it in case it does happen. As simple as that. Failure is inevitable so don’t feel discouraged if it happens to you. It doesn’t actually mean you should stop your dream or reach for your goals. It just means you need a little more practice until you reach it.
And second. Figure out what is your tripod of stability. For most people it is having a stable job, having a place to life and having food on the table. But write down in the comments, what are yours. It is your jump start point and it will definitely give you more chances to living more efficiently once you see you have the stability to dream big.
Today, a lot of bosses, entrepreneurs, new start-up owners have the problem of taking on too much work for themselves and so ruining their efficiency and effectiveness. They simply DO NOT know how to delegate or better yet trust that someone will do the job the same way they would. This is not anything personal, it is just the inability to let their work into the hands of someone else. It is not about you. On the other hand if you are one of these people, the dedication to completing your own work, all day every day is going to cost you your productivity, motivation and effectiveness. So ask yourself what is your priority?
To not let anyone a chance to help you out, or to learn how to let go in order to become more efficient? Think about it. Nobody is telling you to let a whole project go, but certain aspects of that project can be dealt by someone else: organisation, report writing or whatever else makes you comfortable and what is your time consumer, you will get more out of delegating rather than keeping it to yourself. Take baby steps and see how comfortable you feel with the work someone else is doing. After a while, it will be easier for you and you will feel proud that your team is accomplishing great things.
Work Smarter Not Harder
So this last part of how to live more efficiently is actually the sole definition of being efficient: to eventually work better and faster. So in order to do this, you need to find a way to make it easier for yourself. These previous four steps are going to help you, but it is going to take some brutal honesty with yourself about your life, your plans and goals and even about your work ethics.
It is simple: are you working hard or smart? Because, there is a difference between working smarter and working harder. One is you are working more efficiently and effectively, other is just letting your career take over your life.
In order to become efficient first you will have to work effectively. Which is simply put: doing the right things instead doing things right. Because most companies will do things right, the books will be according to all the laws, the clients will be coming, but if you want to earn more, work less, you will have to do the right things.
There is a difference if you post 5 articles per week and get zero responses and if you post one that will make a difference. Same with your work and life. What are the strategies you live by and are they the right strategies or are you just doing them the right way?