Thursday, July 28, 2011

Efficiency vs. Control

"If you can't get something done, you've got to do it yourself!"

How many times have we said that, or found ourselves living by that adage? "I can just get it done faster if I do it myself," we say.

Some folks might say that I'm a control freak...Okay,sometimes I am a control freak! I like to be able to control my outcomes; if I do X, Y will happen. If I get someone else to do X, who knows what will happen!

Sometimes, however, control can be counter-productive. If we feel that we must have total control over a project or a process, one of two things can happen:
- we end up doing it all ourselves, leaving little time to do anything else, or
- we end up micro-managing others, thereby driving them crazy! Not to mention hurting the working relationship.

Can you see where over-controlling can be counterproductive? So how do we rein in our control and become more efficient?

There are a few ways to do this. One is to to train others to do the job. (The nice thing for us control freaks is: we have control on how the training will be administered!) One piece of mommy advice I once read was: show them how to do it, do it with them, then let them do it on their own. Yes, this takes time at first, but in the long run, think of how much time is saved once it's off your hands!

Another way is to lower expectations to a reasonable level. Remember, there is a big difference between perfection and "good enough". Does the job really need to be perfect? Most of the time, "good enough" will satisfy the world (exception: perhaps not surgery--please get that right!).

One final way is to realize whether or not you truly have control over what it is you're worrying about. There are some things that we have no control and perhaps not even an influence over. (Remember the Serenity Prayer?) In these cases, we are wasting time and energy. How efficient is that?

I just want to iterate that I'm not advocating abdicating control altogether. We just need to examine what we should control, what we can't control and what we can let go of control.

So, am I preaching to the choir? Or do I have fellow control freaks out there? What do you do to "let it go"?