Want to be REALLY efficient? Be inefficient for awhile!

Feb 24


Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.

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How TV Reality Shows Distort Time Management

"Being efficient can mean using more time" (or: What NOT to learn from Reality Television)Q. I have a lot of new projects in my job. There are no guidelines and no mentors because some have never been tried,Want to be REALLY efficient? Be inefficient for awhile! Articles anywhere. Each project seems to take a long time and I feel like I’m being inefficient.A. If you’ve watched any reality television show – Extreme Home Makeover, The Apprentice, Wife Swap, SuperNanny are some of the tamer ones – they share one big source of dramatic tension: impossible deadlines.Last week, for instance, The Apprentice contestants put together an advertising campaign in three days. Whew!So we get the message, "Faster is better."But I’ve identified at least two situations where clients make more progress by recognizing the virtues of inefficiency.First, when you’re embarking on unfamiliar projects, you probably won’t move in a linear pattern. You’ll take a step, realize you don’t want to go there, and turn back. You’ll turn left awhile, then right.For example:-- Career change tends to be bumpy – and nearly every client wants a magic bullet, such as an aptitude test. But research shows career change actually follows an uneven zigzag pattern. Shortcuts just turn into detours.-- When clients move to a new city, they want to make friends right away. After all, they’re lonely! But when you move too fast, you can end up with lots of social commitments that will lead to stress and hassle.-- New research project? First website? Often you have to try several different options before you realize what works. If you’ve been working in the same field for a long time, you’re used to being an expert. We all forget that learning can be a source of frustration as well as fulfillment.Second, creative ideas unfold slowly. But if you’re being productive, you can’t wait till inspiration strikes.Therefore, many creatives develop tricks to get the juices flowing.Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero tells her copywriting classes, "Lots of the big names in sales letters have writing rituals. They turn on their favorite music; some wear a certain hat or a favorite pair of boots."Natalie Goldberg does famous her ten-minute timed writings.For my own projects, I just start writing: I write horrible first drafts and often the good stuff emerges only after I’ve covered several pages.Seasoned creatives learn to build time for these processes into their work schedules.Bottom Line: Here’s one place where reality shows aren’t real. Beating the clock doesn’t always mean reaching your own personal finish line.

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