Improving personal efficiency
Explains the essence of personal efficiency and describes the methods and benefits of its improvement
A person performs a variety of affairs every day, solves problems and generates ideas to get some result and achieve success. Is it possible to obtain the same result, but over a shorter period of time or at a lower cost, i.e. more effectively? Of course, it is possible; there lies another question - how? To begin with, we shall understand what efficiency is.
In the classic economic sense, efficiency is the ratio of the result to the cost.
In the industrial sector it is synonymous with productivity - the amount of output per unit of time.
Personal efficiency is the speed at which the system achieves the goals under specific conditions, with a certain quality and optimal cost or speed of transition from current state to the desired one.
It depends on:
Usefulness of the result
One needs to know his/her goals and strive to achieve them, or in the worst case, one can land “not there”, even "moving at a great speed" and then all the efforts made will prove to be useless. That is, one might seem to be a busy man, but if the affairs being performed are not getting closer to the goal, then the efficiency will be zero.
If a result is obtained, but it is useless, then the efficiency is considered to be zero. Keep in mind that the usefulness of the result is a relative value, and therefore the efficiency is also relative.
For example, while performing a job given by the boss, your efficiency may be high for him, but it may be zero for you, since the obtained result is important for him and completely useless for you.
For example, a lathe operator at the factory, wanting to get a promotion, squeezes out all the "juice" from his lathe. He keeps 150-200% ahead of the schedule, the performance surpasses expectations, there are no malfunctions or interruptions in the service, the expenditures fall, and the income rises. Finally, he gets promoted and occupies a chair in the office. However, the man who will replace him at the machine would spend most of his time on repair work and maintenance, since the resources have already been depleted. His performance will drop sharply, the plan will be performed by only 30-50%, the costs will rise, and profits will fall. Who must be blamed in this situation?
Ideal efficiency is the ability to perform an instant transition from the current state to the desired one, which means living right here and right at this moment, and getting pleasure out of it.
Before starting to improve personal efficiency, it is necessary to determine at what level it is at this point of time. The only and unambiguous way of measuring personal efficiency is to ask yourself: "Do I know my goals well, how quickly am I achieving them at the moment and whether I have enough resources to achieve them?”. And then to answer them honestly: for example, rate on a scale of ten. It is possible to improve the efficiency only if you know where you are.
While evaluating personal efficiency, one must not listen to opinion from others – the evaluation of any other person will reflect your efficiency in the achievement of his goals. Efficiency can be evaluated only by oneself and it is very easy to do.
Methods of improving personal efficiency
Man has developed many methods for performing effectively. They are needed in order to quickly implement intentions and to achieve personal goals. The better a person knows what he wants, the better he understands how to use these methods.
Here are some of the most universal methods.
A busy person is, first of all, interested in the organization of personal goals and affairs that create pressure, stress and complete mess.
In the book "GTD - Getting Things Done", David Allen describes his method of organizing personal affairs. He says: "Modern man consumes so much information and performs so many affairs, the amount that our ancestors did not even do in all their history. Therefore, a person can simply drown in his affairs without a proper system". This creates a "mess" in the head and prevents one from focusing on the actual execution of the affairs, which significantly reduces the efficiency.
In order to understand exactly which goals and affairs will bring the most useful results, it is a must to be able to determine which ones are most important and which ones are less important. For this one uses the categorization of priorities - Prioritization.
The most objective and universal method of prioritization is the method of weight ranking by one criterion, supplemented by a multi-criteria model of weight ranking.
After acquiring the skills of prioritization, one must achieve and perform, in the first place, those goals and affairs that have the highest priority.
Recommended methods: Prioritization of personal goals and affairs
Focusing on the goals
Man always does what he thinks about. If a person does not even have thoughts about purchasing a car, he will not start earning for it and will not go to an auto dealer. However, if he keeps thinking about the goal constantly, every day, his subconscious mind will itself move him towards the goal. There are few goals that are constantly reminded about by the surrounding people (about family, about vacation, etc.), but if you want something unique (to start a new project, to develop a new technology, etc.), they will never be achieved without personal efforts on thinking and focusing on these goals.
If thinking about the goal brings anxiety and negative thoughts - it is not worth spending time and efforts on it. This is a good test for determining the trueness of goals.
One must think about the goals in any spare time. One must materialize them and place the most important ones in a prominent place. It is important to periodically review the list of personal goals.
Once the goals and affairs are organized, one may begin to improve the efficiency in utilizing personal time. For this, chronometry is used.
One must record the time of completion and a brief description of any affair during the day (for example, in a notepad). It does not matter what kind of an affair was it, one must note down everything. It is important to set the priority of each affair, for example, from 0 to 2 (low, medium, high).
Execute an analysis of these records a couple of times a week: summarize the durations of all the affairs with different priorities. See how much time you spend on low-priority affairs. If this value turns out to be quite large (an average of more than 2 hours per day), it would be quite clear, immediately, just how ineffective you are in spending personal time. Similarly for high-priority affairs - if, on average you spend less than 2 hours a day, it is also a sign of low efficiency.
Try to spend as little time as possible on low-priority affairs and as much as possible on high-priority ones.
Recommended methods: Managing personal time
To ensure that one brings the affair to culmination and does not stop halfway, one needs to constantly train self-discipline, which is the ability of the system to force itself to complete an action in order to get results and achieve goals, regardless of obstacles (problems, demands, bad mood, bad influences, laziness, lack of motive or stimulus etc.).
Ideal self-discipline is the self-discipline of a system that allows you to perform absolutely all of the planned actions for achieving a set goal, regardless of any obstacles (problems, influences, demands, bad mood etc.). It helps in becoming independent from self, dropping the unnecessary “burden from the shoulders” and getting rid of the habit of keeping affairs for later.
Development of skills
In the process of achieving the goals, it is important to learn new technologies, methods, techniques, tools, i.e. to acquire knowledge and abilities (solving problems). If the obtained knowledge and abilities are used often, it is necessary to transform them into skills:
Skill is the ability of the system to perform certain actions automatically or subconsciously, formed by their frequent repetitions under specific conditions.
They act in the capacity of an autopilot, which helps by making it possible to put minimal effort in the performance of frequently repeated actions.
Examples of skills that are useful in improving personal efficiency: pro-activeness, organization and prioritization of goals and affairs, communicability, sociability, stress-tolerance, speed reading, "blind" printing on keyboard, foreign languages.
The efficiency gets improved significantly when people help each other. And they will help you if it will help them achieve their own goals, i.e. when interdependence exists. This is a kind of social symbiosis, in which the efficiency of joint effort is always higher if coercion is replaced by mutual trust.
Along with interdependence, the skill of interaction is also needed. While meeting new people, the horizons expand considerably, ideas and resources come up for the achievement of personal goals.
If you need knowledge or abilities to perform affairs, but you do not possess them, i.e. they pose as a problem, it is better to delegate these affairs to a person or organization, who have already solved this problem, i.e. who are more competent in this affair.
Delegating does not affect the personal efficiency directly, but it greatly accelerates the process of achieving goals.
By delegating work, one gets free personal time, which can be spent on other important affairs. However, delegation requires the expenditure of other resources (money, equipment, organization of the system for control over the execution of affairs etc.)
Recommended methods: Organization of personal goals and affairs
The benefits of improving personal efficiency
Improving personal efficiency does not simply accelerate the process of achieving goals; it allows you to just achieve them faster than other people, something that clearly distinguishes you among them.
This increases personal competitiveness, which allows gaining access to new resources for achieving more complex and great goals, for example, completing a project faster than the competitors, taking a higher position or getting employed in a larger organization.
Businessmen say the following about competition: "late for a minute – late forever". Therefore, one must never stop improving personal efficiency, or somebody else would stand out brighter than you and get the resources to achieve their goals, the very resources that you could have had.
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