The Dangers of Focusing on Efficiency 

Today I invite you to take a closer look at the danger of focusing on efficiency. Efficiency is good. It helps us get stuff done. In fact, it helps us do more in less time. What could possibly cause issues?

The problems start to pop up when we focus on efficiency for efficiency’s sake without taking the time to consider the purpose and end goal behind it.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you accept a client project in an office and you are tasked with filing all the company’s project files and folders. For the sake of this discussion, it doesn’t matter if they are physical folders with paperwork in them, or digital files. What’s important is that there are a lot of them. 

You could be very efficient and have them all arranged in alphabetical order within a few days. Or you may have chosen a chronological order, starting with the most recently finished projects and going back to the company’s earliest jobs. The folders are organised in an efficient and effective way. But was it the best choice?

You won’t know until everyone else in the company has a chance to work with the new filing system. You won’t actually know how well you did, or didn’t do, until the project managers, their assistants, or whoever else uses the files starts to look for them. Yes, your process was efficient, but there’s a better, though slower, way to go about this. 

What if you had started by talking to everyone involved in the process? What if you had taken the time to learn how and when they needed to access these files? What if you knew a little more about the kind of information they needed most? Do you think you could have come up with a better solution, a more efficient process that would serve the team? I’m sure you could have. 

This example illustrates the danger of focusing on efficiency perfectly.

It blinds you to the need and purpose behind the task and that is never a good idea. Don’t let efficiency lure you into taking shortcuts in order to get something done quickly. Instead, stop to ask smart questions. Make the time to do your research and get it right the first time.

Because guess what happens when you jump the gun in an effort to be efficient? You end up scrapping all your hard work and starting over. And that is never efficient. 

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

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