Efficiency – Is it Bad?

Efficiency – Is it bad?

I refer to efficiency here to mean being able to do things fast. Well, believe it or not, i have a habit of jumping on to work, be it anything, and getting it done and completed as quickly as possible. It could sometimes be a work for which there is no urgency at all and it could even be done many days after. My philosophy is, there is something to be done, why you wait for action, do it right now.

Some of the examples of this habit of mine are: while working I’n TIFR, i had to type letters, scientific papers etc. of all the members I’n the group, including my boss, the head of the group. Because of my inherent efficiency and ‘addiction’ for quick action, i always would finish the work much before the normally expected time duration, and boasted of this quality of mine and other colleagues of mine always appreciated. Often, I used to find myself I’n a situation where I do not have anything else to do and found myself battling with idleness. It also happened that I personally used to go to the group members to find out if they had any work for me.

While I’n DOE, my boss Mr.Murali wanted me to get a letter made from our Secretary to the Cabinet Secretary I’n about five minutes. After giving me the instruction, he straightaway went to the Secretary’s room (from fourth floor to the ground floor) and simply mentioned, ‘Sir, i have told CVS to get this letter made I’n five minutes’. Just when he finished talking to the Secretary, I was there I’n the Secretary’s room, with the letter which the Secretary had just to sign. Again, my fast work earned me a praise from Mr. Murali I’n the form of a note I’n the margin of a file that I had put up to him: ‘as usual fast work, good work.’

After getting the iPad, I learnt to type on it quickly, and started writing short articles on various subjects, Since Mr. Vittal was always motivating me to write and had appreciated my writings, i started mailing my articles to him for his perusal and comments. Soon, without myself knowing the speed at which i worked, i realized that i had sent more articles to him than what he would have expected – like occasional ones.
Apparently these mails ate up his time and I’n order to cut my speed he replied, ‘Dear CVS, I find you super productive, I can see your articles only when I get the time. I got the meaning of what he wanted to convey and was really perturbed by my act. While i replied seeking excuse for taking away his valuable time ( he was then engaged I’n writing a book on corruption), I did like that he had praised even my stupidity.
I’n my mind i thought – after all I was super fast, super maniam ( in fact one Professor of science from abroad addressed me thus) and no wonder he found me also super-productive.

My speed (while walking) has had one bad effect on the personal side. Whenever my wife and I go out for walking or shopping etc. together, the word ‘together’ soon vanishes, since always I find myself ahead of her by a few meters and she is left behind. Hence I stop for her to join me and start together, only to find myself repeating the same mistake!

Well, as of today, eighteen months into working on iPad, I have typed more pages than anyone could think of. And, not only that, on more occasions i still find myself, with nothing else to do – the negative effect of my efficiency! And, I’n fact, it is one such moment that I picked up to write these lines, though, even if I stop after finishing with this, the question is bound to crops up in my. mind ‘what to do next?’ I sometime feel how everybody could find time for everything in this world, if only they want to do things, even with normal speed, without resorting to the tendency for postponing the work. This way, they won’t have to specifically learn the art of time management. I’n an article I’n HBR titled ‘Is Busyness Bad for Business?’, Susan David says that ’employees need bout of idleness to get inspired and work more effectively; however, there is evidence that workers benefit from busyness.’


About cvsubramaniam

Former Director, Department of Electronics & Informatiin Technology, Government of India.. Authored Book on Human Resource Management. Published 80 plus articles on HR, Management, S&T, general topics.
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