Stop Trying to Be More Efficient

Technology continues to get more advanced and more tasks continue to get automated. I don’t have to boot up my computer, wait for it to the connect to the Wi-Fi, open up a web browser, type in the URL, enter my username and password, search for the item I want, add it to the shopping cart, and go through the checkout process entering my mailing address and payment information just to buy some more dish soap.

Instead, I can just say, “Alexa, reorder some dish soap,” and the magical smart speaker in the corner of my living room takes care of the rest. We’re living in the future, folks!

And yet, despite all these modern conveniences and seemingly miraculous developments, we find ourselves even more pressed for time than ever before. How is that possible? Because we have all these things we need (and want) to do, we are oftentimes tempted to be as efficient as possible. We’re constantly looking for so-called “life hacks” that can help us get more things done more efficiently.

That’s precisely why we are drawn in by the purported appeal of multitasking. We delude ourselves into thinking that we can totally check our email, write a blog post, listen to the latest podcast, and eat lunch at our desk, all at the same time. But of course that isn’t true. We can’t focus on more than one thing at a time, so when we divide our attention between multiple tasks, the net result of any and all of them will suffer.

But there’s so much to do! You want to update your blog. You want to post a new video on your YouTube channel. You want to work on your email marketing. You want to post on social media. You want to research new affiliate marketing opportunities. You want to do this. You want to do that. So you try to be as efficient as possible to accomplish as much as possible in as little time as possible.

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Stop that. Stop it.

I’ve written on my blog on several occasions how I feel like there is never enough time to do all the things that I want to do, especially since become a dad. Balancing my professional responsibilities with my responsibilities as a father isn’t easy, not to mention that I still want to have some room for leisure activities and downtime, of course.

All this being said, lack of time is not the problem. It was never the problem. If you look around at all of the most successful people in the history of the world, they all had the same 24 hours to work with each day, the same 365 days to work with each year. They had just as much time as the least successful people in the history of the world too. Lack of time is not the problem.

So, what is it then? It really boils down to two main concepts.

First, we all need to stop trying to do as many things as we can as efficiently as we can, because that is ultimately self-defeating. Instead, you should try to do fewer things, but do them better. Instead of trying to score a 5 across the board, understand that life is a game of tradeoffs. Zero in on the small handful of things where you want to score a 10 and don’t worry too much about the zeroes you may be scoring on the other items. The 10s are where you’ll find success, not in a seas of 5s.

Second, when you have to work on something, actually work on that something. Don’t mindlessly scroll through Facebook. Don’t fall into the bottomless pit of YouTube. Don’t walk to the kitchen to grab yourself a snack. Focus on the task at hand and get it done, remembering that done is always better than perfect.

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When you work a more traditional job, especially one that pays hourly, you get paid just the same no matter how much actual work you do. (Yes, you’ll probably get fired eventually if you slack off too often, but the general point here holds true.) When you work for yourself as an Internet entrepreneur, there’s no such thing as an hourly wage or a salary. You need to earn every dollar, even if that means putting in the hours to develop a passive income stream. Sitting for 40 hours in front of your computer isn’t going to do you any good unless those 40 hours are actually productive.

Efficiency is not the objective. It doesn’t matter if you tick 100 items off your to-do list if none of those items really moves the needle forward. Instead, strive to be effective. Do the things that matter and do them well.

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