Is Efficiency Killing You? It’s Time You Become Effective.

Intentionality is a double-edged sword.  Certainly a must have weapon on the road to awesome, however, you must not lose site of being effective.  Short sightedness can sometimes lead to a dream killing “efficiency overload”.

What is the difference between effectiveness and efficiency? Effectiveness is the completion of a project or task. The project or task may be small daily items such as cleaning the kitchen or bigger life achievements such as publishing a book or owning a business.  Efficiency adds the element of “smoothness” or “cost effectiveness” to the these projects, but often times at a cost.  I’m often so focused on getting things done in tight time windows in order to fit in more “stuff”, I stop enjoying the process. Writing and reading, two things I love to do, started to be “boxes” to check.  Since these things are not my income source, they are easily discarded if they take from my quality of life. For you these “boxes” may be yard work, cooking, or even watching Breaking Bad on Netflix.

The thing about efficiency, is that it doesn’t stand on its own as a result.The ultimate goal is to be effective.

Certain projects have hard due dates.  To remain on a course toward awesome, you need to meet these timelines.  I don’t typically struggle with dates on projects, where I struggle are the “extra” things.

English: Questionable effectiveness I presume ...

English: Questionable effectiveness I presume this is for people on horseback. But then why have a gate here in the first place, I can only think it is here to keep cars off the dyke. It would be quite easy to lift a dirt bike over this wide gate, and any livestock you pass through. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These are things that I believe will set each one of us apart on a road to success. Due dates are easy, they are given to us and hold us accountable.  Reading, writing, exercising, etc don’t hold us accountable.  These things need to become a way of life;  a part of who we are.  They need to fall in between “happening when they happen” and “utter obsession”. Here are a 3 important things to consider:
1.  Don’t compare yourself to people at different stages of the process.  A tenured blogger (Michael Hyatt or Chris Brogan), has the history, audience, and developed talent to manage high volumes of readers, topics, and consistency.  You’re 3 months in, don’t trap yourself into thinking you need to keep up with these guys.

2.  Regularly schedule a Check-in on yourself.  Observe your ambitious schedule for a check on priorities, results, and your happiness. As I did this, I realized my attempt at consistent blogging was taking all the fun out of it. I can afford ( as this is only a hobby), to chill out for a while and slowly jump back into the game.  You will find these opportunities to fine tune your effectiveness verses efficiency.  Backing off on writing is not efficient, but burning out and hating it isn’t very effective either.

3. Are you enjoying what you are doing?  If the answer is NO, then take a look at what it is you are doing.  Is the process stealing your joy, or is it the thing in and of itself?  Figure this out.
Remember to prioritize things in your life.  I suggest starting with a Family Mission Statement.  Read my article  on this topic and look through the resources.  The process really forces you to focus on what really matters.  Things that cause anxiety and frustration that do not lead you toward your mission…well…it’s a no brainer on what to do.
Share with me what you do when the work you do becomes a “box” to check.
Rocco

Intentional Perspective

Perspective is a valuable gift.  It is also a skill you can and must develop.

You have a purpose much greater than making more money.

Perspective (graphical)

Perspective (graphical) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That may be a goal, a side effect of your achievement.  As you inch toward awesomeness, or maybe just defining what your awesome looks like, you may hear whispers of self-doubt.  I wrote a post on this very subject.   One tool you must sharpen is perspective.  This morning, I received an invitation to attend an urgent conference call with my team.   Immediately I focused on myself. Who is on the call? Layoffs? Is this going to affect ME? It turns out a colleague tragically lost her husband in a car accident and that message needed to be properly delivered to the team.  Beyond the crushing sorrow I feel for my colleague, I was given the gift of perspective. While I balance the natural tendency to think of how things impact me first, I desire to be more outwardly focused. That will lead me to my awesome and will lead you to yours. Anytime I realize I have a weakness, I get intentional about working on it.  I have put together a small list to help develop the skill of perspective.  Start with these 3 things and move forward:

1. What truly matters:  For most of us, this is family, NOT work.  Family loves you, work doesn’t. Do something positive today with your family. A great side effect of achieving awesomeness and realizing purpose, is this perspective becomes much more clear as you approach your goal . If your “success” distorts this perspective, you are moving in the wrong direction.
2. God’s unconditional love: God loves you no matter what you do.  He suffered and died for you and would have done the same thing if you were to be the only person to ever exist. He wants you to be happy and has given you skills and desires to achieve great things.  God is a pretty connected kind of guy, so don’t ever doubt the power of prayer and his ability to partner with you for fulfillment.

The ultimate goal, after all, is does not have a zip code and as of yet has no LTE or wifi.

3. You have grown: I always enjoy looking at old pictures.  The ones of me as a kid are cool, but the ones that really make me cringe are the ones that are about 8 to 10 years old.  They aren’t too old to be a “lifetime ago”, but they are old enough to remind me of changes (good and bad) that I have made.  Look through some old pictures and identify 3 positive changes (lost weight, better haircut, prettier girlfriend now, etc).  Make sure you focus at least 2 to 1 on positive verses negative changes.  Make sure you celebrate the positive changes and decide if the negative changes need attention.

Unwrap the gift of perspective and realize your potential.  How has your perspective changed in the last year?

Rocco De Leo

Be Intentional or be Nothing

Running through the beautiful hills of Murrieta, California, I felt like I was running  underwater.  I couldn’t maintain a respectful speed and my legs were screaming.  I have been a runner for 4 years, and for 3 of those years, I progressively grew faster and gained endurance. This last year, however, I took a step backward. Running was never anything I thought much about.  I put on shoes and ran a specific set of miles and that was is. I had “big picture goals” such as completion of my first half and my first full marathons.  There were certain trials I wished to conquer. Once completed, I didn’t create new goals other than continual running.  Singular achievement goals are great goals to have, but they are achieved and forgotten.. For me, achieving these goals marked the end of key component to my training: intentionality.

Whether running, writing, parenting, or anything important to you in your life, don’t take for granted that you will always move toward your goal “automatically”.  Yes,  it does happen. Sometimes.  Why take the chance?  The tyranny of beginners luck or the honeymoon phase of new endeavors can fool you into thinking things will always be easy. Here’s a list to guide you toward maintaining intentionality and relentless forward movement.
A Marine undergoes water survival training

A Marine undergoes water survival training (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Differentiate the daily from the long term goals. Steven Covey pointed out the difference between tasks that are important and urgent (doing laundry, answering the phone, cooking dinner) and those that are important and not urgent (getting your Master’s Degree, exercise, writing a book).
2.  Align high energy (physical and mental) tasks appropriately.  For me, this is typically in the morning before the kids are up.  If you have a spouse, this time should be agreed upon as your time to focus on your high level tasks (writing, research, excersise, etc. ).
3.  Align the mundane tasks (important and urgent) that don’t involve high levels of thinking or creativity to times when you are less creative for you. For me, that’s in the evening after working and i’m distracted by kids’ homework and tired from work.  This is a great time to hang a picture, do dishes, or clean the patio.  Not a great time to research for my book.
4. Write it all down.  It seems as though the one thing all productivity speaker/writers agree on is the absolute necessity of writing things down.  Goals, tasks, ideas.
5. Create an internal sense of urgency.  Guard your quality time from internal distractions such as getting off task (Facebook, twitters, checking the weather) and outside distractions (phone calls, emails, unimportant tasks). You have to REALY want this!
6.  Keep perspective.  Baby cries, 9 year old is sick, wife had a particular bad night not sleeping.  These things happen.  Understand the difference between pause and procrastinate (click here to read my article on this topic). Sometimes the urgent and important trumps the not urgent and important.  It is up to you to maintain contingencies but also keep perspective on when to allow “intrusions’ upon your times. if you are in a positive and intentional workflow, you purpose can handle occasional interruptions.
What are you doing TODAY to be intentional?
Rocco De Leo