Job Titles and Knowing When to Be Effective vs Efficient

In essence, if I were to consider this blog a business, then I am the chief executive, financial, operating, and technology officer. I’m also the outside consultants and HR department. My girlfriend’s title is still up in the air, but I’m thinking she can be Vice President of Keepin it Real. Together, we’re learning when it is smart to be effective vs efficient.

Our cat (pictured above) decided to not help out on this blogging expedition, but I do find her checking out my computer from time to time. If I had to give her a title, she would be, “Chief Officer of Sitting on My Keyboard While I’m Trying to Type”.

I laid out these titles to show, A) the blog has absorbed A LOT of time and, B) having a partner through a new venture is absolutely vital to its success. Each of the titles above requires care and attention, but nothing is as important as someone there to keep everything in perspective.

I quickly learned a blog is an extension of your life AS IT IS, not as you THINK it is.

If we have chaos going on in our personal lives, then it will likely dip into the blogging life (at least for me). Despite having less free time now, I have become much more productive because I know I need to carve out the time to blog.

This relates to my next point:

Knowing when to be Efficient vs. Effective

I’ll explain via a typical week for me:

Naturally, we all live busy lives and similar to many of you who are reading at this point, I have a full time job in addition to family and social obligations. With so much to do, there is a lot I could do to become more efficient. I could cook and clean my place quicker. I could spend less time snoozing in the morning or spacing out when my girlfriend is watching television (I do this way too often!).

To combat my natural tendency to find distractions, I’ve focused hard on getting all my shit done as soon as possible to CLEAR UP my schedule to blog. BUT, when I am blogging I switch gears 100% and focus on EFFECTIVENESS.

To accomplish this, I typically spend a large amount of my Sunday cooking, cleaning & preparing for the week. I’m very much in a “task orientated” mode and try to cross off as many to-do’s on my list as possible.

During this time, I prize efficiency over effectiveness.

If my ironed shirts have a wrinkle or two showing in the back, then I will qualify that as good enough and move on. If I forget to add a specific sauce or spice to my slow cooker, then I’ll just try to do it next time.

With blogging, on the other hand, I do not measure my success based on getting tasks done; I measure the success based on delivering VALUE.

Of course, it would be nice to get things done quickly, but I have opted to spend as much time as it takes to satisfy my effectiveness requirement at the expense of my efficiency.

When I sit down and write an article I always think to myself, “What does the reader want to read about?” Or, “How can I offer the reader the most value via my post?”

Contrast this with an efficiency approach of, “How can I write a post as quickly as possible?” Or, “What is the least amount of words I can use to satisfy my readers?”

If I don’t nail a paragraph or a message is muddled, I’ll take a break, and come back to rewrite the section. I don’t want to publish anything that isn’t effective.

I find it most effective to write my posts first thing in the morning. My morning routine is basically, wake up, brush my teeth, slam a glass of lemon water, and sit down at my computer.

The very last thing I do is set a timer for 50 minutes so that I can truly zone out of everything and dive into my writing.

I feel like I am waking up within the document as my mind slowly starts to turn on.

There are no distractions early in the morning and I’m left with my own thoughts. Setting an alarm helps me avoid looking back at the clock and thinking about the next things to do that morning. Having this clarity helps me start my day off right.

Final Word

Blogging has brought a lot of joy for being something so inexpensive. In this regard, I hope everyone can have some type of frugal hobby to help them along the road to pursuing financial independence.

Do you find there are certain areas in your life where you focus only on effectiveness? What are the other areas where your sole purpose is to be as efficient as possible? Have you had success finding the balance when it comes to effective vs efficient behavior?

Master Distiller

P.S. I enjoy talking with readers and I learn a lot about what others find valuable in my posts. The best part is being able to provide value by answering specific questions or going deeper into the details on a particular topic. I hope to continue to do this, but I’m seeing the demand is moving higher as the blog continues to grow. With that being said, I’ve started drafting a “Consulting” page for those interested in learning more and looking for tailored feedback. If you’re looking for a detailed response, I’ll recommend contacting me now before the demand gets too high.

P.P.S. For those in the US, enjoy the extended Memorial Day holiday weekend!

14 comments… add one
  • Apathy Ends May 28, 2016, 9:09 am

    I also have an animal distraction – it’s just the head on the keyboard but the message is clear – I want attention!

    Blogging does take a ton of time, I spend the majority of mine on content creation – but the other things get moved into the efficiency bucket (images, layout,etc)

    Mastering effectiveness combined with efficiency requires a ton of practice – nice post Mr DD

    • Distilled Dollar May 29, 2016, 10:03 am

      Hah! I watched a friend’s puppy one weekend and he would always do that same move. He’d slowly walk up next to me and then plop his head on the side of my keyboard. I’ll admit, it was an effective move.

  • Vicki@MSDLifeCoaching May 28, 2016, 9:42 am

    Hi Matt,
    No animal distraction here – just teenager distractions! I like the idea of setting a timer for blogging and I am going to actually try that as I move forward. I am definitely a morning person – so I think focusing on my own writing then will be important too. I work hard at being effective when it comes to grading papers, communicating with my students, and with any work related to consulting. People respect the time and focus I have and have often commented to me about that. They can tell that I am reading what they write and they appreciate the focused feedback I give. In terms of being efficient – I agree, housework and other tasks that need to be done fall in that category. They are much more “mindless” and can be somewhat automated if you plan right! One category I find crossover with is personal fitness. I have to try to be effective – and focus my efforts on particular exercises to get the most out of being efficient with my time (if that makes sense!) Have a great long weekend!

    • Distilled Dollar May 29, 2016, 10:06 am

      I’m sure your students love the feedback! I know I could always tell which teachers read through my writing vs skim it just to grade it quickly.

      Setting a timer has worked wonders for my productivity. It lets me fully dive into an activity without having to worry about what’s next. I know I have that hard stop coming up once the timer goes off.

      Let me know if setting a timer works out well for you!

  • amber tree May 28, 2016, 11:35 am

    No animal distraction here. The kids sometime cause a big distraction or full interruption of the blog activity. It then is time to focus my time and effort on them. I will blog when they sleep.

    In the household, I also prefer to be efficient: get the task done, good enough. No need to excel…

    • Distilled Dollar May 29, 2016, 10:08 am

      I can only imagine how much time and attention it would take for kids. The nice thing about our cat is that she is very low maintenance.

  • ZJ Thorne May 29, 2016, 12:50 pm

    It is so important to remember why we do this. Efficiency is a great goal in some avenues of our lives, but a horrible one elsewhere. Good luck continuing to find the balance.

    • Distilled Dollar May 31, 2016, 5:29 am

      Thanks ZJ! I know once I find that balance, it’ll slip away again, eventually. Part of my learning process will be finding ways to quickly re-establish a balance and part of the time it will be knowing when it can be okay to let things get a little out of hand.

  • Stefan @Mllnnlbudget May 30, 2016, 3:53 pm

    Only distraction as you know is CPA and man has it affected my blogging these last 2 weeks. I have seen my quality drop as well as my social media presence dropped which has affected my blog and my mentality towards it. Due to the number of activities going on in my life right now my blog has taught me how to use 30 minutes of free time to either do social media planning or write some of my next article. It is a struggle right now but it will ease up!

    • Distilled Dollar May 31, 2016, 5:35 am

      Keep at it! I’m sure as your priorities shift towards completing the CPA, you’ll learn and be able to write some excellent posts about it down the line. Having gone through it myself, I saw a lot of similarities with personal finance and pursuing financial independence (such as having a goal, consistently working at it, etc.).

  • Andrew Rocco May 31, 2016, 8:07 am

    I have 3 cats and they rarely let me get anything done. I swear it’s like a competition to see who can cause me to make more typographical errors.

    By the way, thanks for the Twitter follow. I’ve added your blog to my list of daily reads!

    • Distilled Dollar Jun 2, 2016, 5:55 pm

      Great to connect!

      Also, we’re about to go from 1 cat to 2 cats this upcoming weekend! Hah, the amount of distractions will basically multiply.

  • Financial Slacker May 31, 2016, 9:25 am

    I just got back from 4 very long days at an out-of-town swim meet for my kids. And during that time, it was difficult to do any blogging related activities. I did plan ahead and drafted a few articles that could be posted, but beyond that I didn’t have the energy to do anything more.

    As far as effectiveness vs economy, I buy into your approach. Things like chores (cleaning, cooking, yard work, etc.) get done as quickly as possible. Things that are value-added either to me, to my family, or my friends (including the blogging community) get done with as much quality as possible.

    But being a perfectionist, I rarely think anything I do is good enough and I’m always looking at ways to get higher quality more efficiently.

  • FinanceSuperhero May 31, 2016, 9:31 am

    I had a hearty chuckle when I saw the picture of your cat above. My dogs do the same thing, so much so that I have started holing up in my office upstairs just to get any work done.

    In my day to day to life, I am constantly striving to boost my efficiency. It is something that comes fairly naturally to me, but I am driven to keep growing. I have recently started setting time goals for mundane tasks like mowing my lawn, grocery shopping, and folding laundry.

    Effectiveness, on the other hand, is sometimes more difficult for me because it is not comfortable for me to turn off the efficient side of my brain. Blogging has already helped me shift in this direction.

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