One of the big mistakes we often make – because of the pace of work – is confusing efficiency with effectiveness. Sometimes we can be deeply, truly efficient and at the same time barely move our work forward. At other times, we can be relatively inefficient and still make tremendous strides. Why?Think about it. I could choose to spend five minutes several times each day with my children, in between calls or tasks, and all of that time would probably add up to a few hours each day.
Is that the same as spending two hours of focused time each day with them?
In fact, I would submit that I could spend twice as much time with my children using this method and still be a less effective father. We would never get to the “good stuff” that comes with relationships because we would be switching our focus too frequently.
Think about how you go about your work. How much deeply focused time do you spend on important tasks, versus knocking them out five or ten minutes at a time in between checking e-mail or making calls? While the latter way may be the most efficient way to go about your work, it’s most certainly not the most effective way. You never get to the “good stuff” of deep thoughts, serendipitous connections and full engagement.
It’s my belief that we need to lose the efficiency mindset that dominates cubicle land. It causes everyone to roll to the middle of the bed – where the grooves are – and settle for systemic mediocrity.
To do brilliant work – truly brilliant work – we need to jealously guard the activities that make us effective, even when the “Ping” tells us we should be doing something else.
So here’s the challenge: what activity are you going to put on your calendar this week that is effective, though perhaps not efficient? (For me it’s writing, by the way.)