How I Figured Out That “Working Smarter” Isn’t Always The Answer

In essence, if I were to consider my blog a business, then I am the chief executive, financial, operating, and technology officer. I’m also the outside consultant and HR department. My girlfriend’s title is still up in the air, but I’m thinking she can be Vice President of Keepin’ it Real. Together, we’re learning when it is smart to be effective vs efficient.

Our cat decided to not help out on this blogging expedition, but I do find her checking out my computer from time to time. If I had to give her a title, she would be Chief Officer of Sitting on My Keyboard While I’m Trying to Type.

I laid out these titles to show, A) my blog has absorbed A LOT of time and, B) having a partner through a new venture is absolutely vital to its success. Each of the titles above requires care and attention, but nothing is as important as having someone there to keep everything in perspective.

I quickly learned a blog is an extension of your life as it is, not as you think it is.

If we have chaos going on in our personal lives, it will likely dip into the blogging life (at least for me). Despite having less free time now, I have become much more productive, because I know I need to carve out the time to blog.

This relates to my next point: Knowing when to be efficient vs. effective. I’ll explain via a typical week for me:

Naturally, we all live busy lives, and similar to many of you, I have a full-time job in addition to family and social obligations. With so much to do, there is a lot I could do to become more efficient. I could cook and clean my place more quickly. I could spend less time snoozing in the morning, or spacing out when my girlfriend is watching television (I do this way too often!).

To combat my natural tendency to find distractions, I’ve focused hard on getting all my shit done as soon as possible to clear up my schedule to blog. But, when I am blogging, I switch gears 100% and focus on effectiveness.

To accomplish this, I typically spend a large amount of my Sunday cooking, cleaning & preparing for the week. I’m very much in a “task-orientated” mode, and try to cross off as many to-dos on my list as possible. During this time, I prize efficiency over effectiveness.

If my ironed shirts have a wrinkle or two showing in the back, I will qualify that as good enough, and move on. If I forget to add a specific sauce or spice to my slow cooker, then I’ll just try to do right it next time. With blogging, on the other hand, I do not measure my success based on getting tasks done; I measure the success based on delivering value.

Of course, it would be nice to get things done quickly, but I have opted to spend as much time as it takes to satisfy my effectiveness requirement at the expense of my efficiency. When I sit down and write an article I always think to myself, What does the reader want to read about? Or, How can I offer the reader the most value via my post?

Contrast this with an efficiency approach of, How can I write a post as quickly as possible? Or, What is the least amount of words I can use to satisfy my readers?

If I don’t nail a paragraph, or a message is muddled, I’ll take a break, and come back to rewrite the section. I don’t want to publish anything that isn’t effective. I find it most effective to write my posts first thing in the morning. My morning routine is basically: wake up, brush my teeth, slam a glass of lemon water, and sit down at my computer. The very last thing I do is set a timer for 50 minutes so that I can truly zone out of everything and dive into my writing. I feel like I am waking up within the document, as my mind slowly starts to turn on.

There are no distractions early in the morning, and I’m left with my own thoughts. Setting an alarm helps me avoid looking back at the clock and thinking about the next thing to do that morning. Having this clarity helps me start my day off right.

Blogging has brought a lot of joy for being something so inexpensive. In this regard, I hope everyone can have some type of frugal hobby to help them along the road to pursuing financial independence.

Do you find there are certain areas in your life where you focus only on effectiveness? What are the other areas where your sole purpose is to be as efficient as possible? Have you had success finding the balance when it comes to effective vs efficient behavior?

Image via Pexels

  • Ella

    Is efficiency what people mean when they say “work smarter”? I’ve always interpreted that saying to have the same message as this article – decide what your priorities are and work to satisfy those priorities.

    Anyways, I like the article but I feel like I’ve once again misunderstood a Project Management Platitude (PMP(TM)).

  • Natalie Sanders

    Deciding your priorities and determining which require focus and which do not IS working smarter. It’s definitely a good article but the title doesn’t add up.

  • Alexis

    I miss the respect people used to place on quality of work. It takes time to produce your best work, but so often the modern workplace simply imposes ridiculous deadlines and timeframes. I get so frustrated sometimes – it’s good to remind myself that I can take time to read documents, to review material and jot down my thoughts, before making decisions.

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