Michael Andrew’s new book The Efficiency Playbook is perfect for anyone who finds that there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done that you want or need to do. Consequently, most of us have tried multi-tasking only to find that it leads to distraction, errors, and taking up more time. A better answer lies in trying to be as efficient as possible, but how to be efficient sometimes eludes us. Fortunately, Michael Andrew has made the study of efficiency a lifetime pursuit.
We’ve all seen movies or TV shows where an efficiency expert is hired only to have the staff revolt because of his inhumane practices, but The Efficiency Playbook takes a different approach, showing us how to be efficient in every area of our lives so that we will benefit by finding we have more free time to enjoy or pursue other goals.
One of the most effective pieces of advice I found in these pages was that when you have to do something, you should do it rather than putting it off; if you don’t do it, you’re still thinking about needing to, so you’re just wasting energy thinking about it, which is far from efficient. I’ve found this to be the case when needing to pay a bill or make a difficult phone call. Andrew is correct that it’s better not to procrastinate but just to do the necessary task because then you’ll feel better and freer sooner.
More complicated situations follow. Andrew describes the difference between working to complete a task and working a set amount of time. For example, in writing this book, he found it more effective to tell himself he would write until he finished a chapter rather than he would write for thirty minutes. If he finished writing early, he would also not force himself to continue writing to fill the time because that could lead to burnout, so he just took off the rest of the time and celebrated the completion of his task. By using this practice, writing became a game for him in which he focused on the goal rather than the time, and he found himself more efficient as a result.
Most of the ways to be efficient that Andrew suggests can be turned into games if we choose to view them that way, and doing so makes them more fun and engaging so the work can get done faster. That said, another point of being efficient is to find ways you can work less, or in popular terminology, “work smarter not harder.” For this purpose, Andrew talks about the importance of creating residual income. A key strategy here is applying the concept of duplication—creating a process or a product that you can replicate and make income off of without having to put in the work of recreating it every time.
One of the most helpful chapters in the book was early on when Andrew explores looking for places of friction and then trying to figure out how to reduce or avoid them. Friction is not just work-related but exists in all aspects of life. It exists whenever something feels problematic or a situation does not allow for things to go smoothly. Here are a couple of examples of friction that Andrew provides:
“Dishonesty adds friction. Dishonesty destroys trust, and trust is efficient.
“Misunderstandings increase friction. Misunderstandings and breakdowns in communication can turn molehills into mountains—instead of enjoying life with those around you, you find yourself fighting with them.”
While readers will enjoy discovering places they can make their lives easier by being more efficient, this book will also challenge them. One of the most important chapters in it is “The Thought Ruler” in which Andrew describes different levels of thought size. In all, he comes up with ten different levels of thinking, ranging from people who act on basic instinct and tend consequently just to be surviving from day to day to people who think longer term by focusing on how to acquire security to the highest level thinkers who think philanthropically or are visionaries. I enjoyed reading this chapter just to see where I fit on the thought level scale but also because it gave me tips on how to move up the scale and where my thoughts were still stuck back on a lower level than they should be. Most people will find they might overlap in different levels, but I think that using the thought ruler will challenge everyone to reach for a higher level of thought; doing so will help people to grow mentally and emotionally and also probably help them to find greater financial security and happiness.
I really admire all the thought that Andrew put into this book. Even if you only choose to use one tool he offers to help you become more efficient and you only save yourself one minute a day, going forward, you’ll have saved yourself six hours a year—that’s extra time in which you could watch three movies, read a book, take a day off, start on a new project, or just spend more time with loved ones. There’s no denying that being efficient is a huge benefit, and The Efficiency Playbook will teach you the rules and the strategies to succeed at the game.
For more information about Michael Andrew and The Efficiency Playbook, visit the author’s website.