Consider how you plan your day.  Perhaps there is no plan.  Or perhaps there is a detailed plan that is quickly abandoned to solving urgent problems and dealing with critical issues. For many people, daily  activities are determined largely by email, telephone messages and people dropping by with their critical issues- that is, the priorities of others. Daily survival makes it virtually impossible to implement longterm solutions and reach goals. Or so it seems..  

Jannelle always planned her days.  She had a To Do list and carefully checked off each task as it was completed.  She always worked hard and felt productive. Jannelle had mastered efficiency – doing things right. But she was frustrated because there never seemed to be time for important projects.

Jannelle’s goals called for her to complete documentation of a new procedure by Thursday. To meet the deadline, she decided that she was going to schedule 2 hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to finish the project.  That meant shutting down email and letting her telephone go to voice mail.  She let her coworkers know that she was unavailable for these 2-hour stretches unless it was a major emergency.

Now she was doing the right things – being effective, instead of efficient. The experience changed Jannelle’s concept of productivity. She realized:

    Working short periods – without interruption – allowed her to do better work faster.
    The “urgent” requests she used to jump for became less critical, when she was not instantly available to her coworkers.
    Her stress level was lower because she was in control of her time.
    Even though she accomplished fewer tasks, she knew she was more productive because she completed the right activities.

This week make an Effective To Do List.  List the few (3-5 maximum) important things you need to accomplish and dedicate the time to making those things happen.  At the end of the week, evaluate your progress.  Your results will show the difference between being efficient and being effective.