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Blog: Can We Have Some Order Here?
The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized: E Is For Effficiency

How many times a day do you hear the word "efficiency" in a conversation (especially at your workplace or during a professional meeting?) This has become one of the most overused and least understood organizing catchphrases of the decade! Why then is it that so many people who think they are being "efficient" by going 90 miles an hour are still stressed-out and overwhelmed? Because they're focusing their efforts in the wrong direction.

Making Everything A Bit Easier

Somewhere along the way, efficiency has become associated with the quantity of work completed rather than its quality. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Let's get one thing straight -- efficiency has nothing to do with how much you accomplish in a day and everything to do with how competently you apply your energies toward achieving your most important goals. It's not a matter of speed. You can stay busy 24 hours a day, cramming twice as much into your calendar and checking three times as many items off your to-do list -- but if you aren't working on something that matters, you'll never truly be efficient. I sometimes think the better term is "effective." If efficiency relates to moving forward on a task or project, effectiveness deals with making sure you're headed in the right direction.

According to Merriam-Webster, "efficiency" actually means being productive without waste. That last part is vaguely important (and largely overlooked), so I'd like to repeat it -- WITHOUT WASTE. In every area of life, the goal is to trim the excess, to make the task easier, to find a way to expend the fewest resources possible. Yes, I am telling you to take the path of least resistance!WinkOf course, reducing waste also means getting it right the first time -- having to redo a project and ending up duplicating your efforts because you put forth a half-assed effort initially is far from efficient. Quite often, we skimp on the up-front planning because we think we'll get a job done quicker if we just jump right in -- but any carpenter will tell you that it's more efficient to measure twice and cut once. It's estimated that every minute you spend planning your day (up to about 15 or 20) saves five minutes of work down the road. However, there's also a fine line between achieving excellence and overdoing it. I've always thought that this quote by Barbara Sarah beautifully summarizes the concept of efficiency -- "We get no extra credit for laboring under a hot summer sun on a job that can be done in the shade." Perfectionism may seem like a virtue when you're trying to get organized -- but endlessly re-working and refining when your first effort was sufficient is the antithesis of efficient. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

In the end, efficiency is about working smarter -- not harder. If you spend two unfocused hours mowing the grass or writing a report (when it would have only taken an hour if you'd given it your full attention), you're not being efficient. If you have to search for your keys every morning before work (because you drop them in a different place each night), you're not being efficient. If you end up paying interest on your credit cards or late fees on your utility bills (because you haven't learned how to use that bookkeeping program yet and are two months behind on balancing your checkbook), you're not being efficient. If you invest more mental energy in making a decision than is really necessary (because you keep second-guessing yourself and waffling about your choice), you're not being efficient. In everything you do, ask, "Is there some way I can make this project easier?" Maybe you can delegate the more menial tasks, set up a time-saving routine, or use a technological tool to your advantage -- whatever it takes to improve your workflow and shorten the process.

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posted on: 9/27/2012 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Can We Have Some Order Here?

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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