Is Your Efficiency Obsession a Problem?

working too hard

Work fast and die young. That seems to be the motto of professional world.

You are constantly rushing yourself to work faster in order to get a promotion or pay rise.

Or you think that if you finish your work faster, you could go home earlier.

But it never happens.

Instead, you receive more of the same work.

At the best, you catch some minor benefits that sugarcoat your fail. The only thing you always receive is yet again more advice to work faster.

Do you give up? Of course not! Such small inconveniences can’t stop you! Instead, you try to work even harder and faster. And then, you finally get what you desire or… what you thought you desired.

Yes, your pace of work increases steadily, but at what cost? You feel rushed, stressed and exhausted. You don’t have energy to enjoy life. Could you honestly call such a state a success?

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. You could rethink your working pace obsession and direct your way to work awesomeness.

The Working Pace Obsession Spectrum

The working pace obsession is a multifaceted concept; you could rush your work too much, be fixated on quantity of results or create unnecessary busyness around you.

Those multiple starting points look to be quite different, but they lead to fairly similar outputs. Maybe you’re already there?

  • Is your professional life extremely busy?
  • Does efficiency become your obsession, even sort of your religion?
  • How often do you search for new ways to get more done in a faster manner?

Where is the end of this madness?

Soon, you’ll feel guilty if you go out for a lunch and you don’t stay late. Your ambition to increase your working pace will shortly produce not only stress and exhaustion but also some serious health-related body and mind issues.

And then it’ll affect your personal life. Next stop is depression. And, if you’re really extreme, you could develop an illness that could terminate your professional career or … life.

You’re Living in the Matrix

The good news is it’s not your fault; it’s the world that teaches you to create your own Matrix from the very beginning of your education. And it does it successfully.

Your perception of what you smell, what you see and what you breathe might not be the whole truth. All the time, you filter pieces of information to align them with your common belief system, thus distorting your reality.

Remember when you couldn’t find those car keys? After a few minutes you finally saw them right before your eyes and wondered how it was possible to miss them.

How is it possible?

The answer is in your mind. You simply filtered out the image of the keys on the sofa, as it didn’t match what you expected to be true.

Interestingly, such situations occur far more often that you may realize.

You Can Shape Your Own Matrix

You can’t stop filtering all the information and see the whole truth without becoming insane from the bombardment data. However, you could shape the filters to better serve you and your needs.

Maybe you think increasing your reading pace is impossible, but by following some simple instructions with an open mind, you could actually triple your reading speed within the course of a few hours.

A slight change in mindset and some knowledge could yield surprisingly big results. Why not to use such an approach to cure your working pace obsession?

Currently you filter information through beliefs that you haven’t deliberately chosen. And the opinion that the world has implanted into your brain is this: Increasing your working pace is the only solid way to get what you want.

Because of your “education,” such a belief is automatically considered to be true.

It might be, but that’s often not the case. How can you recognize your own situation? Well, simply question almost everything. You could start today by performing a self-inspection of your potential working pace obsession.

To check whether your beliefs fit you or enslave you, you need to examine your filter set. Below are five questions to clarify your mindset.

1. Do You Often Ask: How Much I Can Do?

Do you remember any of your job interviews? I bet that you weren’t asked how much you can do. Instead, the conversation was most likely centered on WHAT you can do.

The fastest plumber will never earn more money than the CEO of a big plumbing company. It’s a truism that you’re already aware of. But maybe you unconsciously filter that information.

2. Do You Hasten Your Stroll?

Some people actually enjoy working quickly over working slowly. However, there is usually an optimal pace of work that gives one the most enjoyment.

During a stroll, you already know that you have to walk slowly in order to make it really joyful. In fact, you could ruin the whole experience by going too fast. On the other hand, if you want to run, you probably won’t be happy with the very slow pace.

Work is exactly the same. Maximum joy is bound to a specific pace depending on the particular circumstances. Just remember you’re not a rock —you’re a human. The pace should be adjusted to your current state and the environment.

3. Are You Trying to Do It Overnight?

The big projects consume a lot of effort. A masterpiece simply takes time to create. No matter how fast you can work, you won’t be able to finish it today, this week or even this month.

Marathoners run at a much slower pace than sprinters but can maintain it for a much longer time. The same principle is valid regarding work; starting too fast too soon will actually delay the outcome.

4. Do You Have Energy To Enjoy Free Time?

If you use all of your energy to work quickly, nothing will be left for other parts of your life. As a result, you won’t be able to enjoy your free time.

You probably don’t want to let your free time turn into only a rest period between your work periods. You most certainly don’t and won’t like the idea of a life restricted solely to its professional sector.

Conserve enough energy to enjoy all aspects of your life, whether you are at work or somewhere else.

5. Do You Consider Your Natural Predisposition?

A very competent sprinter will never ever become a good marathoner and vice versa. Why? It’s due to the physiological aspect of the individual human predisposition.

In terms of long and short distance running, it’s almost all about muscle fiber composition. There are two forms of muscles fibers in skeletal muscles — fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fiber types.

Depending on their exact ratio in your body, you will be more suited to either fast and short distances (100-200 meter sprints), long and slow (traditionally five kilometers and beyond), or medium paced and distance (800m and 1500m) running.

Don’t get me wrong; with hard work, you can improve your performance at every distance. However, no matter how hard you try, you will only be able to achieve at a world-class level that is compatible with your predisposition.

A similar principle should be taken into account regarding work pace. You may be marathoner, sprinter or some sort of a mixed bag. It’s up to you to recognize your personal predisposition, and adjust your work style accordingly. Just remember if you don’t do so, you will never achieve your top possible performance.

Going against your objective preferences will create a ton of unnecessary friction and tension in your life. If you are serious about your overall happiness, then you simply can’t afford that for a prolonged time. Short periods of serious discomfort can be extremely beneficial, but this is a subject for another time.

Now that we have reached the end, I would like to ask you for a favor: Could you please post a comment and tell me which one of the questions you find most thought provoking?

(Photo by PublicDomainPictures/ CC BY)

Gregor Moniuszko Ph.D. is a former research scientist who shows people how to achieve more meaningful results in life by helping them use their inner laziness properly. He debunks myths about the negativity of laziness and displays findings derived from the analysis of unconscious uses of laziness by highly successful people. Read more from him at


  1. Eric Rasmussen on the 8th September

    Question #3 is by far the most thought-provoking for me, though I enjoyed the entire article. I’ve always procrastinated work (even in school) and then used my ability to get things done quickly to rush through projects, assignments, or tasks at the very end. I generally complete things by the deadline, and the ironic thing is that I always kick myself for delaying starting. By the time I’m really into a project and rushing through it, I realize how much I’m enjoying working on it. I kick myself for delaying because had I spent the entire time allotment on it, I could have made the final product even better. And then the next project comes along and bam – I just can’t motivate myself to get started.

  2. Gregor Moniuszko, Ph.D. on the 10th September

    Hi Eric,
    Thank you for your comment. I wouldn’t be original here but for a really big project is often useful to divide it into multiple smaller subprojects with their separate deadlines. Another tactics (which is lately one of my personal favorites) is to trick yourself with something more weird. What you may try to do is to use your motivation to start work on project for ONLY 5 minutes. It looks like small commitment for human brain so you don’t need so much motivation to accomplish this task. After that 5 minutes you can switch to another activity with no bad feelings. However, what is interesting, you’ll often (for me in about 50% of cases) enter the right zone and work on project for much longer time.

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