Urgency v. Efficiency

Now I know what you are thinking – another pithy piece on time management (Pareto principle, Matrix II activity and even some good old fashioned pearls of wisdom from John Adair). Well any of the concepts or great thinkers, I am sure, will have directly or indirectly touched on this dichotomy but I wanted to come at this from a slightly different perspective, and something possibly linked to the slow movement that got some traction around the slow food stuff but rather seems to have fallen off my radar.

Before you start shouting and say oxymoron you fool, I would ask you to think about this a little while longer. Yes you are perfectly correct to point out that you can’t be urgently slow but can you be efficiently slow? I am not settled on this but with the hurly burly of life, I think we can reach top efficiency by sometimes looking at things from a slow perspective.

In summary (because I think I am going to want to come back to this issue), to be truly efficient, and the Pareto principle is as good a place to start as anywhere, when you come to consider what is the best use of your 20% of time then it pays, even if you are an inveterate list maker (nothing wrong with what), to include some slow time. Now slow need not be taken to its literal conclusion so that you do nothing (lie in bed) but recharging the batteries by going to an idyllic location and just taking in the air and view could be the most efficient thing that you can be doing at that particular moment (just do it slowly – get rid of your timepiece would be my top tip). If this is going to be truly ‘efficient’ then ideally there should be some spontaneity and you should feel that you making a deliberate point of doing things much more slowly (and thoughtfully one assumes) than you would do otherwise.

I think you need to follow your body’s natural rhythms and decide when an (efficient) slow day or even a few hours needs to be factored into your programme.

I think there is a natural temptation with all the material written on efficiency – Work Smart and all that – to have long shopping lists; and a great satisfaction comes from ticking each and every task off. There is nothing wrong with this and indeed I have developed my own methodology to cope (just) with the complexity of work and home life but it does drive you on and if you can do things in the shortest time for the maximum return then there is an immense sense of achievement. All I am advocating is to think that slow can be efficient – sometimes!

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