Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain
Source: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

Most people want to use their time efficiently but most people don’t. Many aren’t even aware they don’t.  Some people don’t really care.

Of course, we should care. Our life’s value is primarily or even totally a function of how well we’ve used our precious, limited heartbeats.

After all, imagine there were two clones of a person, let's say it's even someone with an ostensibly low-impact job, say an accounts payable clerk. Clone 1 did the least s/he could get away with and spent the rest of the time on fun stuff: watching Netflix, teaching herself the guitar, and so on. Clone 2 did the most s/he could at work and was always asking herself if s/he was working as efficiently as possible thereby ensuring that everyone got paid promptly and rarely had to offload some of his work on others. After work, people were amazed at how much s/he had time for: s/he volunteered for her favorite causes as well as made time to be a helpful friend and romantic partner. S/he even had time to be well prepared for her roles as volunteer actor in community theatre plays, thus bringing joy and enlightenment to audiences.

Clone 2 was able to accomplish all that because s/he cared enough to be ever asking herself two questions: Is this task a good use of my heartbeats? And am I tackling the task as efficiently as I could?

Clone 2's answers to the first question—Is this worth doing?-- kept her from spending lots of heartbeats on watching TV, playing golf, trekking long distances to distant relatives’ occasions, nor even listening endlessly to her whiny friend.

Her answers to the second question—Am I doing it efficiently?—led her to do tasks to the level of perfectionism appropriate for that task, getting help when needed, and, where possible, trading tasks that s/he didn’t have the talent or skills to do efficiently for those that she did.

If you find yourself feeling it’s not worth the effort to be efficient, is that because:

  • you don’t really believe your life’s value is mainly in how productive your heartbeats are? Think again.
  • Because you lose track of time?  If so, at least for a few days, track how you spend your time. Have a timer ring every 15 minutes and write, on a memo pad, what you were doing the previous 15 minutes. Periodically, review your log and ask yourself whether you’re proud of yourself.
  • Because you don’t have the knack of being efficient?  Ask an efficient person(s) to discuss how you spend your days and to get advice on specific tasks you sense could be done more efficiently.

I’ve had the privilege of having been career and personal coach to some of the world’s most successful and contented people as well as to some real strugglers. And apart from intelligence and being well-adjusted, perhaps the most central differentiating feature is that successful, contented people tend to be efficient.

HERE is a link to a video of me reading this article.

The 2nd edition of The Best of Marty Nemko is now available. Marty is a career and personal coach. You can reach him at mnemko@comcast.net.

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