self improvement

The 7 Habits of Highly Efficient People

People who win in the workplace, school, family life, or any other area of their life have a superb grip on productive living. Time is literally money to an efficient person: it’s always spent carefully and precisely. The secret to maximum personal efficiency lies in the habits and patterns of behavior of an individual.


When people don’t plan, they become slaves to something else. Demands of others, money, or even unimportant distractions will manage a person without a plan.

The software engineering industry saw a revolution with a new team management methodology called “Scrum” or “Agile”. Scrum became so popular because a team working within its structure was able to produce a software product at a much higher pace. Iterations happened every two weeks instead of three months. The principles behind “Scrum” weren’t too complex, but they are a witness to the importance of planning. The following is a loose outline of how Scrum management functions:

  • A team dissects a broad goal for the next two weeks into small bite-sized action steps
  • Each team member takes a set of bite-sized action steps and commits to have them done by the end of a specified time period.
  • Every day starts with a brief “stand-up” meeting where each team member reports what they’ve accomplished, what they plan to accomplish that day, and mentions any road-blocks they face.
  • Each employee goes off to accomplish what they said they would do.

This structure can be easily applied and adapted outside of the settings of software development and business teams.

An efficient person knows the value of a plan and fights unproductivity with written daily priorities, appointments, and goals. These goals should line up with short-term and long term goals.

No Hesitation

Perhaps one of the best venues to observe a “no-hesitation” attitude is in the armed forces of the United States. Our troops learn lessons about team work and efficiency out of necessity. Tasks both big and small must be executed with impeccable timing or the team will lose lives.

In an average work-day, there should be around 10-30 small tasks to accomplish. Hesitating to jump right in at a high pace will cost time and cause you to miss some items on the to-do list. If you find yourself waiting too long to jump in, you might want to spend a little more time on the first habit of planning.

Say No

Life simply demands too much. Everyone has an optimum work output that they can give. Anything that takes away from the optimum pace must be placed on hold. Many business leaders and entrepreneurs want to be the hero that gets everything done. However that simply is not possible.

Efficient people have a strong sense of what their responsibilities and purpose is and they clear everything from their plate that doesn’t qualify for their time. Some emails will have to be left for later, some clients will have to wait for an appointment longer than they would like, and some company recreation will have to be skipped.

Work Balance

Family time, rest, relaxation, reflection, and fun time are not “wants”. They are needs and without them, your body and mind will suffer in various ways. Stress from not taking a proper break will tax your efficiency at work.

Having too much work to accomplish will slow everything down and result in frustrating exhaustion. Having too little work can result in laziness, boredom, and distraction. Find that optimal balance of work. Don’t neglect your spouse, children, and friends; you’re body was built to require social nourishment.

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati working on their psychology degrees and behavior analyst certifications have studied how professionals manage a work home boundary. The findings of this research show that those how find a greater satisfaction in their career and life have a strong sense of a work home boundary.


Efficient people don’t do it all. They don’t force all of the responsibility toward themselves. Rather they are quite talented at giving responsibility, trusting in others, and clearly setting expectations. This is why many leaders happen to be very efficient people: their talent of giving responsibility rallies others around them.

Accept Improvement

Finding better ways to do things doesn’t bother the productive, efficient individual. If there is a better way to do something, even if it requires some level of discomfort, they embrace it.

Of course there is change that actually takes away from overall efficiency, and efficiency minded people can sniff these bad changes out.


Gratitude isn’t something you might associate with someone whose defining characteristic is efficiency. However there is an overwhelming research showing that those who take time to slow down and reflect on their day, month, past few years demonstrate greater performance. While part of this reflection is identifying mistakes and learning from them, recognizing the good in life is quite a powerful boost.

Those who take time to be more grateful for good things in their life report more motivation and a feeling of higher achievement.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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