Efficiency: A Letter to My Younger Self

Oftentimes and many years later we have realizations on how silly we were, how short-sided we thought, or simply how wrong we were. This is one I wish I could write to my younger self. As I journaled, I realized it wasn’t simply a letter to my younger self, but to many, many people today. A lesson widely needed.


I understand you want to be as efficient as possible. In fact, you want everything in your life to be as efficient as possible.

I think that is to your downfall and here’s why: efficiency is not the goal, effectiveness is.

Peter Drucker in his masterpiece The Effective Executive talks about this specifically. We need to be effective, that is the goal. And one concern I have with what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to squeeze every last penny out. You need to leave some money on the table. That is not a bad thing to do.

For example, if you onboard employees as quickly as possible with as little training as possible then you will get what you paid for. You will get a bad product. And you will have to pay for that for months and possibly years to come.

If you try to write up a big process real quick, give it one quick glance, and hit “send”, then you will find things you should have considered.

When you need to reconcile the accounting books and you “just want to get through it” because you have many other clients to work on, don’t be surprised when your errors get caught in review — and you look bad.

Don’t be shortsighted by the “wins” of today at tomorrow’s costs. Instead, invest today for tomorrow’s gains. Just like we need to get enough sleep each night in order to be effective, if we chew into tonight’s sleep to get a bit more done today we will waste the entire tomorrow. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Just because it’s easier to measure efficiency doesn’t allow you to take the lazy and less productive way. Go the more difficult and rewarding path. Go for effectiveness and win.

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