Published: 4 weeks ago

Don’t Hide Behind Efficiency

There are a lot of type-A, task-driven, calendar-oriented people who read this blog. I know this because (a) some of you have told me as much and (b) that tends to be the level of my nerdiness, and nerds attract nerds.

Sorry, nerds.

The point is, those of us in type-A camp love to talk about all things productivity and efficiency. We love to map out our ideal weeks. We love to get to inbox zero. But I fear that for many of us (please pause while I raise my hand and put myself at the top of this list), efficiency can become a horrible master at the expense of those around us.

Take, for example, the aforementioned calendar. We can plan our day down to the minute, but woe be unto the person who needs us in the midst of a tightly-scheduled afternoon. On the surface, we may respond graciously to their request. But inside, we may be seething that our perfectly-planned day was interrupted by…[deep sigh]…people.

A mentor once pointed out my propensity to do this. His solution was simple and rather ingenious: rather than stacking each day to the margins, build in margin for people throughout the day. Block off a half hour in the morning and a half hour in the afternoon, and those blocks can easily absorb the occasional five minute drop in or ten minute request. Because I’ve planned for the hiccup on my schedule, I can more easily accept the hiccup on my schedule.

Matt Perman, author of What’s Best Next, encapsulates this idea: “…efficiency exists so that you can serve others better, not sacrifice them to efficiency.”

Ouch.

How do you plan for people? How do you make sure that your schedule doesn’t become your master?

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