The Personal Efficiency Program

"I have learned that the single biggest obstacle most people need to overcome has nothing to do with the amount of information you process or the demands placed on you, or even the amount of time you have. Your challenge will be overcoming your own tendency to put things off that you don't like to do."

- The Personal Efficiency Program, page xvii

Kerry Gleeson has revised his previous edition of his Personal Efficiency Program (PEP) to help you take control of your work habits, reduce your stress and ultimately improve your career potential. Gleeson has been in the “white-collar productivity business” for more than 25 years and so bases his book on his lived experiences as well as the successes of his clients who have instituted the program in their organizations.

The book’s format is great. Each chapter starts with a preview of what will be covered and ends with follow up/actionable items for you to instigate RIGHT NOW to get you started with these new ideas and habits. This reinforces the change you are about to undertake with tangible ‘Do It Now’ strategies.

The book can be broken down into suggestions to help you:

  • learn to organize yourself and your environment
  • stop feeling overwhelmed and free yourself from stress
  • getting things done with the least amount of effort
  • end email overload
  • make meetings effective and efficient.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

What Are You Waiting For? Just Get It Done NOW!

"The only method I've found that really produces the results people want ... is to gain the advantage by getting the ‘now’ on your side. I call it the Do It Now approach to personal efficiency... Act on an item the first time you read or touch it."
- The Personal Efficiency Program, page 17

Overcoming procrastination is a cornerstone of this book. The Do It Now approach helps you to identify what areas of your work life/habits you need to work on in overcoming it. Learning to overcome your personal reasons for procrastination is the single biggest factor to improving your personal productivity. Gleeson has nine ways to overcome procrastination:

  1. Do it once.
  2. Clear your mind.
  3. Solve problems when they are small.
  4. Reduce interruptions.
  5. Clean up backlogs.
  6. Start operating toward the future instead of in the past.
  7. Stop worrying about it.
  8. Now, feel better about yourself. [Procrastination is linked to poor self-esteem – who knew?]
  9. Develop decisiveness in decision making.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Planning = A Clear Vision = Better Results, so take the time!

"If you feel you're under stress at work; that you have too much to do, and too little time to do it; that you're out of control; or that you're simply not accomplishing the things most important to you, the cause is often poor planning or the lack of planning."
- The Personal Efficiency Program, page 99

Planning has three components for Gleeson: prioritizing tasks, managing time, and executing the plans. Each of these areas requires detailed work by the individual to determine what is or is not working right now. There are six separate yet overlapping areas in the PEP method:

  1. Daily plan
  2. Weekly plan
  3. Project implementation plan
  4. Strategic plan
  5. Goal setting
  6. Values

The importance of taking time to save time is stressed. One must set aside the necessary hour or more per week to look forward, not to mention the few minutes at the end of a day to plan for the day tomorrow!

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Help Me – I'm Drowning in Paper!

"You don't need to be reminded of all the things on your desk that you can't do anything about. Being reminded of what you can't do now only reinforces the bad habit Do It Later."
- The Personal Efficiency Program, page 42

Clutter. Everyone hates that word and yet it is often one of the biggest pitfalls we all face. It exists both at work and at home, as well as physically [think paper] and mentally [think stress and worry]. People are often so afraid they will ‘forget’ a task that they leave physical reminders on their desks, be it post it notes, file folders or scrapes of paper with to do lists. However, all this paper cluttering your desk top as well as your mind and not necessary. You don’t need to ‘see’ work in order to remember to ‘do’ work.

All the physical reminders of work you cannot do right now are actually more of a distraction than a help and are a primary cause on increased stress. Your desk should only have on its surface the work you are doing right now, so you can focus, work and finish what needs to be done currently. Gleeson suggests you have a place, other than your desk, if you need to keep work that is to be done another time.

After finishing The Personal Efficiency Program, I found I had a lot of new ideas to help me act on changing some of my poor work habits. We all have those bad habits and we all know it! We just choose to keep doing what we are comfortable with and what comes naturally. Some of these suggestions are not rocket science. We just need a prompt, a reminder if you will, that what we are presently doing is not working for us and there is a better, more productive, more efficient way. Gleeson shows us that way. He challenges our present methods and calls us out on why we are persistently clinging to them. The follow up action items at the end of each chapter are a great way to actually put into practice what has been discussed and suggested throughout the previous pages. So the question is: why do you continue to do what you know is not efficient?

To quote Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for ya?”

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Jennifer Fitzgerald Hansen

ABOUT Jennifer Fitzgerald Hansen

Who am I? I ask myself that all the time! I am a mother to three wonderful kids and a self employed trainer/facilitator/instructional designer for 10+ years...
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