Be Effective, then Efficient

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One important Covey lesson one of my mentor’s always points out is, “Be efficient with things, but be effective with people.”

I like the distinction.

Effective is doing the right things for the right results. 

Efficient is optimizing. 

It’s the least waste of time and effort.

Before you try to be more efficient, first try to be more effective.  There’s no point in optimizing ineffective things. 

I think of this as first asking, “What do I want to accomplish?”, then asking, “Where can I optimize?”

For example, I first make sure I have the right things on my To Do list, before I try to optimize them and whenever I’m learning something new, I first focus on the mechanics before I speed up. 

In other words, don’t try to shoot the bow faster before you can hit the target using the right technique.

Too many people try to optimize right up front or be super efficient with cuts the wrong corners.

There is a lot of truth to the saying, “slow down to speed up”.

The next time you find yourself struggling with getting results, or if you are trying to figure out a smart way to do things that involves other people, first figure out what would be effective, then figure out how to be efficient.

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