March 04, 2004

The efficiency game

Have you ever wondered how you could maximize your personal efficiency? The consequences of success are so huge that making even small improvements could make a huge practical difference over time. Plus, it's sometimes just a fun thing to think about. What would you do if your goal was to maximize your productive output for each unit of work input?

I can immediately think of two things: get enough sleep, and get enough exercise. An hour of sleep-deprived work isn't as efficient as an hour of well-rested work. Exercise, also, tends to sharpen you up.

Some other things which come to mind include:

  • Reduce distractions. This might include everything from getting rid of that damned cell phone to trying to "live in the present" and not worrying about the past or the future.
  • Adapt your work schedule to your daily energy levels. For example, I usually do my best thinking first thing in the morning, and after 8 pm. At 3 in the afternoon, I'm usually a person-shaped vegetable, mentally speaking. So, if I work out or do chores around three, and spend the morning and evening reading and writing, I'm more effective than if I foolishly try to work out first thing in the morning.
  • Avoid boredom. For me, this means not doing the same thing for too many hours in a row. Given six hours, I'd rather not read contracts for three hours straight and Property for the next three hours. I'd rather read Contracts for 1 hour, Property for 1 hour, Contracts for one hour, etc. This is one of the reasons I prefer emergency medicine to surgery (many straight hours in the OR) or to internal medicine (many straight hours on seemingly endless rounding)... ahem. Internists, you knew that was coming...
  • Choose what you spend your time on carefully. Given three options of what to do next, do the thing that's most important, not necessarily what's most urgent. Of course, it's easy to say this, but harder to actually rank things in order of importance.

    These are just a few ideas. I suppose I could have spent the last ten minutes reading for my classes tomorrow, but blogging is just so important...

    Posted by Carey at March 4, 2004 03:03 PM
  • Comments

    I find that if I really want to be efficient, I need to turn off my wireless card.

    It really helps. I can avoid TV, and I can hide my books, but the siren sound of my wireless is hard to resist. Like now, for example.

    Posted by: transmogriflaw at March 5, 2004 02:30 AM

    The best decision I have ever made was to get rid of my cell phone before moving to New York.

    Posted by: michael at March 5, 2004 12:20 PM

    i always struggle with putting the morre urgent task before the more important task. one day i will overcome...

    Posted by: japhy at May 14, 2004 10:45 AM