Recently I went on a school ski trip.
Now, I’m not a great skier and these were white-out conditions. Beautiful snow, but because of the blizzard we could barely see our knees – let alone the skis under our feet.
As a general rule I can cope with not knowing what I’m doing in life, so long as I have some sense of where I’m headed. I can cope with not knowing exactly where I’m going, if I have a reasonable handle on what I’m doing. But without knowing what I’m doing OR where I’m going, I’m as lost as a meatlover’s pizza at a vegan BBQ.
That was me at the ski weekend. So I spent a lot of time on the learner slope, watching my nieces learn to ski and snowboard, and mentally bestowing a New Year honour upon the genius who came up with the concept of a magic carpet inside a tunnel on a ski slope.
Since I was doing very little actual skiing, I noticed a lot. Those ski instructors who teach children have a huge range of tricks up their sleeves for getting kids moving. At the top of the slope, most of the teachers say things like “Now what kind of shape do we make with our skis? A triangle! Well done!” or “Who can get out of the way fastest? Rayon – I think that’s you, let’s go!”.
But one of the instructors took a whole different angle. As soon as he and his tribe emerged from the magic carpet, he said “rev racers* – start your ENGINES!”
Nothing about skis, nothing about placement of legs, poles, boots, nothing about preventing a pile-up. But those kids took off with smiles on their faces, learning just as fast as – maybe even faster than – those in the other groups. Which led me to think about how to make learning fun. How to not take things so seriously. And that real growth happens so much more easily when we’re engaged, we’re imaginative, and we’re playful.
This fits with the whole Efficiency Queen theme…how?
When I decided to change direction with this business, rebranding had to be part of that process. I agonised for months over where to go with this. I looked at it from all angles. I had earnest discussions with people that went round and round in circles. (If you happen to be one of those people, I’m really sorry.)
And then it hit me….I’m calling myself an Efficiency Queen.
I wanted to make it fun – and that ski instructor did too. There’s a plethora of info online about time management and productivity and some of it is brilliant, some of it helpful, some of it generic, some as dull as a really really dull thing. Whenever I’m helping people, I want to do it in a way that sticks – and that’s fun to learn. Hence the title.
It’s also meant to be tongue-in-cheek, because I am, and also am not, an efficiency queen. We’re all complex, us human beings. We’re not predictable robots. At least I’m not – and I’m assuming you aren’t either.
We’re nothing if not inconsistent.
For example, I keep my car and office pretty tidy, but the junk room in my house is so out-of-control that I once considered telling firefighters they couldn’t go in there, even though they were checking for a possible fire in the ceiling (reason won out, don’t worry. But the junk room is still a mess).
I love travel and plan trips months in advance, but I detest packing and leave it to the last minute. Meaning I then panic and pack stuff I don’t need, so much so that my sister once asked why I had taken a slow cooker on holiday with me (it was my oversized bag of toiletries).
My thought processes can be quick and sharp and sometimes I’m surprised by what comes out of my mouth, but if I ever meet a person who can read my handwriting, I feel tempted to ask where they got the microchip which provides that superpower (I need one myself).
This whole idea of balance – of finding the perfect sweet spot between this and that, here and there – is a bit of a myth.
It’s like walking on the plank of a see-saw and finding yourself teetering in the middle. You can rest there for a bit, but I’ll bet you don’t want to stay all day. As soon as a strong gust of wind comes along, or your toddler walks into a swing and needs a cuddle, or you just get tired – your balance shifts and you fall, or jump.
We’re like that with being productive, using our time wisely. We get it right sometimes, and other times we’re out of kilter. Which is ok.
Those children on the ski slope knew they weren’t always rev racers – but they also knew that for a while, with those big crazy flat sticks on the ends of their legs, hurtling down a beautiful skifield with an awesome instructor – they were revving their engines and giving it everything.
We’re ALL efficiency queens – and kings.
As adults, I think we’re the same. Some days we’re truly NOT efficiency queens and kings. We don’t have to be everything to everyone, all of the time – but it does help to know how to up our game when we need to do something really important.
The trick is knowing what gets us into that zone, and what tips us out of it. If you want to know who, or what, is stealing all your time, then take my Time Thieves quiz here. (If you’re already on the EQ mailing list and the pesky system won’t let you get to the quiz, please drop me a line -firstname.lastname@example.org – and we’ll send it to you!)
Next week I’ll be talking with you about what efficiency is and what it isn’t. (And I do mean talking.)
Efficiency queen/king, grab your crown!
PS. Please leave a comment, I’d love to know – what’s the one thing that throws you right off course when it comes to getting things done?
*In case you’re wondering, a “rev racer” is a teeny tiny little motorbike which children (and some adults) race and do tricks with. Very hot right now.