Personal Productivity

Effectiveness Can Be Learned

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez Tags Self-Improvement Decision Making Focus Work & Life
“Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.” ~ Peter Drucker

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Effectiveness can be learned

Peter Drucker said that being effective is “doing the right things”, and that’s what any knowledge worker is expected to do. Being effective is something that everyone would want to be regardless of their life’s circumstances, not just in professional matters.

Although knowledge, intelligence and creativity are essential resources for doing things right, only effectiveness produces results. Working on the right things is what makes the work effective.

Curiously enough, we aren’t taught how to be effective in the current school system, so we must be the ones who, proactively, seek the best way to produce results. It’s our responsibility to contribute in order to improve the capabilities of the organization in which we work, to improve some aspect of our customers’ lives, to improve the lives of those around us…

Effectiveness is the fundamental tool of today’s worker. Any knowledge worker is an executive at their level (whether he has subordinates or not), since he has to plan his work, organize, prioritize, execute and measure results. Effective work is not measured by quantities or costs. It’s the results that define it.

Paradoxically, we live in a reality that demands effectiveness and, at the same time, makes being effective tremendously difficult for everyone.

The environment demands immediacy, and we become so busy with so many things to do that sometimes it becomes difficult to stop, lift our heads up and redirect our attention to the things that actually produce the results we want.

Only ourselves can change this reality by becoming aware of the situation and doing what’s necessary to reverse it. If we don’t act consciously, the flow of what happens will determine what we’ll end up doing.

To be effective you need objective criteria that allow you to see reality above all the flow of events that govern your life and work on what’s really important, what produces results and contributes.

Effectiveness can be learned. After all, it’s a habit, a set of practices that you must repeat over and over again until they become a reflex, something you don’t even think about because it has become fully integrated into your behavior.

There is no specific personality trait that determines who can be effective and who cannot. There are effective people with different knowledge, skills, interests, temperaments, ways of being, etc. According to Peter Drucker, the characteristics that define effective people are:

  1. Effective people know what they do with their time. They work systematically to get most of their time under control.
  2. Effective people focus on contributing. They concentrate their efforts on getting results, not on working harder.
  3. Effective people build on their strengths, i.e., what they know and can do best.
  4. Effective people focus on a few areas where they know superior performance will produce exceptional results.
  5. Effective people make effective decisions. And they can do this because they have a strategy in place, a self management system.

If you want to be effective, GTD is the perfect tool. GTD is a personal management system that provides you with objective criteria to decide what is important at each moment and, therefore, do the right things.

Beard avatar
Francisco Sáez
@franciscojsaez

Francisco is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a Software Engineer who is passionate about personal productivity and the GTD philosophy as a means to a better life.

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4 comments

Bcc54b1a82c959649ccd3db871be58b2
Commented 8 days ago The One Technologies

Thank you for writing such a great blog. I definitely develop the habits that improve effectiveness in my work. I am a mobile app developer, effectiveness is a must for my job.

Bcc54b1a82c959649ccd3db871be58b2 The One Technologies

Thank you for writing such a great blog. I definitely develop the habits that improve effectiveness in my work. I am a mobile app developer, effectiveness is a must for my job.

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb
Commented 8 days ago Francisco Sáez

Glad you find it useful. For us, software developers, effectiveness is paramount ;)

Thanks for sharing!

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb Francisco Sáez

Glad you find it useful. For us, software developers, effectiveness is paramount ;)

Thanks for sharing!

Dcf15659a31a2a8d9b6fd7cc6f002827
Commented 8 days ago Brendan Howard

This was a very interesting blog. In my own life, GTD is a total failure in one crucial respect: It makes me EFFICIENT, But it doesn't do ANYTHING to tell me HOW I should spend my time, WHERE I should contribute, WHAT my strengths are, WHERE to deploy those strengths, or HOW to decide what to do. In other words, it doesn't fully manage any of the things that Drucker says make us effective. GTD is an awesome tool, but not for guiding behavior and figuring out values. Your app, however, offers those beautiful holes in your Perspective function, where missions, values, areas of focus, and more can be tailored and monkeyed with. You've made these thing beautifully customizable. But GTD doesn't tell me what to do, only how to do what I already know I need to do or want to do more efficiently. I argue that GTD makes me more efficient, not effective. For proper effectiveness, I need to do a cubic ton of self-reflection, values management, daydreaming, brainstorming, imagining, wrestling with competing values, etc., etc. GTD helps me do what I want to do, helps me see through the fog of daily tasks to clean up my thinking. It has NEVER helped me figure out what I want to do for any length of time. That's what philosophy, religion, self-help, psychology or, yes, even Peter Drucker are for. Has GTD helped you realize how you want to be an effective human being on the planet? Alan Watts, business gurus, religious thinkers, philosophers and psychologists do that for me, but not David Allen. He says, "Dude, get your mind clear. Shake off all this rubbish in your mind. Great. Clear mind now? Now go think about stuff and do stuff ... " What do YOU think?

Dcf15659a31a2a8d9b6fd7cc6f002827 Brendan Howard

This was a very interesting blog. In my own life, GTD is a total failure in one crucial respect: It makes me EFFICIENT, But it doesn't do ANYTHING to tell me HOW I should spend my time, WHERE I should contribute, WHAT my strengths are, WHERE to deploy those strengths, or HOW to decide what to do. In other words, it doesn't fully manage any of the things that Drucker says make us effective. GTD is an awesome tool, but not for guiding behavior and figuring out values. Your app, however, offers those beautiful holes in your Perspective function, where missions, values, areas of focus, and more can be tailored and monkeyed with. You've made these thing beautifully customizable. But GTD doesn't tell me what to do, only how to do what I already know I need to do or want to do more efficiently. I argue that GTD makes me more efficient, not effective. For proper effectiveness, I need to do a cubic ton of self-reflection, values management, daydreaming, brainstorming, imagining, wrestling with competing values, etc., etc. GTD helps me do what I want to do, helps me see through the fog of daily tasks to clean up my thinking. It has NEVER helped me figure out what I want to do for any length of time. That's what philosophy, religion, self-help, psychology or, yes, even Peter Drucker are for. Has GTD helped you realize how you want to be an effective human being on the planet? Alan Watts, business gurus, religious thinkers, philosophers and psychologists do that for me, but not David Allen. He says, "Dude, get your mind clear. Shake off all this rubbish in your mind. Great. Clear mind now? Now go think about stuff and do stuff ... " What do YOU think?

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb
Commented 7 days ago Francisco Sáez

Hi Brendan,

I think that discovering your purpose, values ​​and strengths cannot be a function of GTD or any other methodology.

As you say, and I totally agree with you, to be really effective you have to do a great job of introspection and self-knowledge. For this, one can rely on philosophy, religion, meditation or simply the quiet observation of the world.

What GTD does is, once you have those values ​​clear, help you integrate them into your workflow (through vertical levels of perspective) so that you can make your decisions and define your priorities based on that hierarchy.

In my opinion, GTD does make you more effective, since it generates a map of actions and the appropriate decision criteria so that you can focus at all times on what is most important. It also helps indirectly, as only when you free your mind from worldly actions can you devote yourself to reflecting on yourself, your interests, your strengths, and what you can do to contribute.

Thanks for the great discussion!

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb Francisco Sáez

Hi Brendan,

I think that discovering your purpose, values ​​and strengths cannot be a function of GTD or any other methodology.

As you say, and I totally agree with you, to be really effective you have to do a great job of introspection and self-knowledge. For this, one can rely on philosophy, religion, meditation or simply the quiet observation of the world.

What GTD does is, once you have those values ​​clear, help you integrate them into your workflow (through vertical levels of perspective) so that you can make your decisions and define your priorities based on that hierarchy.

In my opinion, GTD does make you more effective, since it generates a map of actions and the appropriate decision criteria so that you can focus at all times on what is most important. It also helps indirectly, as only when you free your mind from worldly actions can you devote yourself to reflecting on yourself, your interests, your strengths, and what you can do to contribute.

Thanks for the great discussion!

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