The Difference Between Rushing and Efficiency

time management rushing“Be as efficient as possible!” they say. “Oh, but don’t rush.” “Don’t waste time trying to be perfect!” “But measure twice and cut once.” There is a difference between rushing and being efficient, but it can be difficult to figure out when you’re in the middle of a busy day. I was abruptly reminded of the difference this week…

My Breakfast Disaster

A few days ago, I was trying to get out the door as quickly as possible so I threw a breakfast sandwich in the microwave while I made my coffee (efficient.) Then, while grabbing all my stuff with one arm, I hastily shoved the sandwich in my mouth before I gave it time to cool (rushing.)

I immediately spit the sandwich out with a yelp of pain. A stray piece of overheated cheese had seared my bottom lip. As I held an ice pack on my poor blistered lip, I had a lot of time to ponder the difference between rushing and being efficient.

Product Quality

When we rush, the end product tends to suffer. We neglect key components and complete our work sloppily. This results in even more work later as we try to cover up for our hasty mistakes (or facial burns as the case may be!)

Accurate, not Perfect

While rushing makes us careless, being TOO careful can be just as damaging to our schedule. When we’re efficient, we make sure things are accurate without wasting time striving for the impossible level of perfection.

Being efficient is the perfect balance between doing something carefully, accurately, and as quickly as possible. It’s important to note that “as quickly as possible” might be relatively slowly, depending on the task, so we can’t measure all items on our to-do lists equally.

Don’t let a silly mistake derail your day because you tried to rush through something that simply required more time.

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Hurry Up And Wait

time management boredEverything I know about life I learned in my college marching band…

OK, that’s not entirely true, but it makes for a good opening. (Spare your “one time at band camp comments. I’ve heard them all. Twice.) In band, we had a saying: “Hurry up and wait.” It was amusing because every time we had a performance, the staff ran around urgently telling people to get ready quickly…only to sit around for 45 minutes afterwards while we waited for the performance to start. I’ve had this phrase on my mind a lot lately as I’ve thought about the overall pace of my day. Here is what I think it means to me now…

My Mentality

I realized that I live by the “hurry up and wait” mentality. It’s better to be 20 minutes early than 1 minute late. That philosophy has served me well, however, I’m realizing that it can be taken to the extreme.

“It’s better to be 20 minutes early than 1 minute late” only matters when there is a consequence for being late. When being late means missing an important deadline, an airplane, or your best friend’s wedding…rushing to be early matters. However, when being late is not a problem, rushing just for the sake of rushing is stressful.

Does Everything Need a Deadline?

I realized that I do this. Sometimes I set arbitrary deadlines for myself because that’s how I operate best. Then I hurry hurry hurry to meet the deadline, when in reality, being a few minutes (hours, days, etc…) late wouldn’t really matter. I end up stressing myself for no good reason.

Do you do this too? I talk about how setting your own deadlines can be a good motivator, and that’s true, but I’m going to be careful about what types of tasks I set deadlines for.

Not everything needs to be done in a hurry. This week, I’m going to try to be better about slowing down. Or next week. Whenever I get around to it.

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