Monday Matters: 7 Simple Steps to Increase Your Effectiveness

When I was playing baseball in high school, our coach had a saying which he called the five P’s

“Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”

We live in a busy world with myriad expectations and requirements thrown our way. 

I am a husband, father, business owner, writer, small group leader, friend, and the list goes on. My time is always full and it requires planning to make sure that I am as efficient as possible.

I’ve invited a friend, Joshua Rivers, along today to give us a few ideas on how to maximize your effectiveness through preparation.

Josh writes and hosts a podcast at www.qualitylivingmadesimple.com providing tips, tricks, and insight on how to live a quality life.


How would you like to get more done in less time?

That’s a silly question. We all want to do more with less.

For a frame of reference, let’s look at this quote from our sixteenth President:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ― Abraham Lincoln

This quote shows the intense value of preparation. Lincoln was using a 2-to-1 ratio. He was allowing twice as much time for preparation as he did for actually doing the task.

Everywhere I look, this principle seems backwards in our society today. We want a 1-to-2 ratio as it seems preparation is wasted time. We want to spend more time for doing. As if that this is the best way to get the job done efficiently.

Lincoln’s principle, however, is the better use of time and energy. It is more efficient by making things more effective.

It reminds me that this principle was first found in Scripture:

“If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.” Ecclesiastes 10:10

If you fail to properly prepare, you will be wasting your energy.

When you use more energy than necessary, you may run out of it before you are done. This results in a loss of time or quality – or both.

You may need to:

  • get the proper tool
  • make sure the tool is in proper working order
  • get some other supplies
  • get advice or help from others
  • write the necessary steps down on paper

Since preparation is so vital to maximizing effectiveness, how can we do a better job at thoroughly preparing?

Here are seven ideas I’ve tried to harness in my own life.

  1. Start with the result. Steven Covey highlighted the habit of beginning with the end in mind. So, as you start the preparation process, think about what you want the result to look it.
  2. Think backwards from the result. After you know what the result looks like, think backwards to see the steps that need to be taken to reach it.
  3. Find what the next action step needs to be. As you work your way backwards from the end result, you’ll eventually come to what the very next action step is that you can take.
  4. Gather the necessary resources for what needs to be done. Your next step (or steps along the way) may require various resources. Take the time to note them and get them if you can. There may be some resources that may take time to get (i.e. ordering something online that needs to be shipped), so try to plan ahead so that you don’t waste time unnecessarily.
  5. Find ways to do the work in batches. If your project involves tasks that are similar, you may be able to “batch” them. When you are working on something, and you are able to “get in the zone,” doing similar tasks can keep the flow going.
  6. Start working on the first task. Now that you are seeing how the project will flow and how the different parts will connect, you can get the best start possible.
  7. Keep the plan in front of you. Keep your written plan (did I mention before that you should write all of this down?) easily accessible and visible to help keep you on track.

If you want to be more effective and efficient, give these a shot.

Question: What did I miss? What is your best tip for effective time use?

Monday Matters is stories and guest posts from others intended to help you think more about living richly. If you would like to see more, please join our mailing list and get a free copy of my ebook here.

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  • Great tips here! I’ve found doing “batch” work is helpful. To plan times when I’m going to do most of my writing/working on projects during the week.