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The Art of Efficiency: Doing it in 3, Not 4

Introduction: In-Efficient

I once stumbled upon a powerful quote during a podcast while driving, and it struck a chord with me: “If it should only take 3 steps, don’t take 4.” In a world where time is a finite resource, we often squander it, whether through procrastination, unnecessary complexity, or simply a lack of focus. We’ve all been there, rushing to complete an assignment on the night it’s due, executing, but wondering why we didn’t tackle it weeks earlier when we had more time and less stress. This phenomenon is a testament to Parkinson’s Law: work expands to the time we give it. In this post, we’ll explore the idea that by setting boundaries and streamlining our approach, we can optimize our time and become more productive.


Setting Boundaries and Streamlining: Becoming More Efficient

In life, as well as in work, if we don’t set boundaries, we’ll perpetually find ourselves busy being busy. The key is to work smart, not just hard. There’s a saying that suggests, “Don’t give work to your hardest worker; give it to the laziest because they will find out how to get it done in the fewest amount of steps.” This doesn’t advocate for laziness but rather emphasizes working efficiently. If a task can be accomplished in a few steps, eliminate the unnecessary fluff and focus on the essentials.


The Coaching Perspective: What Efficienct Looks Like

This principle extends to coaching, whether it’s designing practice schedules, workout routines, or team meetings. In my experience as a performance coach at Villanova University, I initially believed that longer workouts equated to better results. However, I soon realized that more time didn’t necessarily translate to more progress. I learned to eliminate unnecessary exercises, focusing on what truly mattered for the athletes’ performance.


Consider football practices, traditionally lasting three hours. Coaches are now adopting more efficient approaches, using GPS tracking to monitor player fatigue and adjusting practice durations accordingly. This shift prioritizes freshness on game day over excessive practice time.

Efficient Meetings: We’ve all been part of unproductive meetings, the kind that meander without purpose. In contrast, concise and well-organized meetings are incredibly effective, utilizing everyone’s time and cognitive resources efficiently. As we’ve seen, even books have been dedicated to the subject, like “Death by Meeting.”


Conclusion: Embrace Becoming Efficienct

The overarching lesson here is clear: if you can achieve a goal in fewer steps, embrace efficiency. Be direct, be clear, and be adaptive. By avoiding unnecessary complexity and streamlining your approach, you can make the most of your finite time and ultimately become more productive.


By implementing these strategies in various aspects of life and work, you can adhere to the principle of “If it should only take 3 steps, don’t take 4,” and, in doing so, unlock the true potential of your time and effort.


With Strength,

Colin Masterson - Performance Coach

Employee - CM1 Performance

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