Efficiency: Not just for the service department

One of my biggest challenges in life is finding a sense of balance between the different roles I play. It seems like most of us are wearing multiple hats at work these days as part of our companies’ efforts to remain profitable in this economy. And then there are our other roles: parents, spouses, caretakers for our family’s elders, coaches for our kids’ sports teams, home owners, cooks, weekend warriors, etc.

With today’s mobile devices, we’re often forced to juggle several of these roles at once. The end result can be overwhelming, a feeling that typically works against our end goal of getting more done in less time.

In an effort to keep that overwhelming feeling at bay, when I came back to work last month after my maternity leave, I pledged to become more efficient than ever before. I don’t want to give up quality time with my family or neglect my responsibilities at Boating Industry during our busiest time of the year.

With that goal in mind, I began to seek out resources that might help me. I turned to one of my favorite business bloggers, Peter Bregman of Harvard Business Review, who often writes about how to be more productive at work so you can have a home life.

His latest blog, A Practical Plan For When You Feel Overwhelmed, suggests you start each day by making a “to do” list, spend 15 minutes knocking off the easiest things on the list and then shut off your phone, turn off your computer and spend 35 minutes working on the most daunting or urgent task on your list. Take a 10-minute break and then start over with 15 minutes of easy stuff. It’s simple advice, but it works.

I also started reading a great book: ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of 37signals. If you’re a busy person, it’s the book for you. It not only tells you how to be more efficient, each “chapter” is a page to two pages long and stands on its own. You can absorb something useful in 10 minutes.

The chapter I read last night includes this advice: “You just can’t do everything you want to do and do it well. You have limited time, resources, ability and focus. It’s hard enough to do one thing right. Trying to do 10 things right at the same time? Forget about it. Getting to great starts by cutting out stuff that’s merely good.”

That’s my new goal. Focusing on the “great” and cutting out the “good.” What about you? Is there a strategy you’ve found effective for increasing your daily efficiency? Share it by responding to this blog.


  1. Douglyss Giuliana

    ReWork was indeed a great and very easy read. Not simply an efficiency book, it provides thoughts on everything from corporate strategy to customer service to business planning (which, by the way, they think is really just guessing).

    Thanks for the distraction, Liz.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Douglyss. While I’m enjoying the book, I’m not sure I agree with their position on business planning. Without a plan, I think many of us are unlikely to execute on our goals. The key is to hold those involved in execution accountable for their role in achieving the goals. If you’re going to put your plan for the year in the filing cabinet until the new year rolls around and hope your company follows it, then you are wasting your time. That’s my two cents.

  3. Along the lines of this article is another great book called 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It will truly motivate you as well as give you great tools on not only how to prioritize your time but also what to prioritize your time with, i.e. what’s most important to you.

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