noun: efficiency
  1. the state or quality of being efficient.
    “greater energy efficiency”
    synonyms: organization, order, orderliness, regulation, coherence; More

    “we need to make changes to improve efficiency”
    “I compliment you on your efficiency”
    • an action designed to achieve this.
      plural noun: efficiencies
      “to increase efficiencies and improve earnings”
    • technical
      the ratio of the useful work performed by a machine or in a process to the total energy expended or heat taken in

A bit late for starting 2017 (because time is doing that thing again where it just effs off at an amazing pace), but after heavy debate 2017 has been dubbed The Year of Efficiency in the Business Casual office.

Maybe it’s because we’re constantly overwhelmed with work, information and doing laundry, but we have decided on Efficiency as the annual buzzword to keep us reminded and inspired to optimise our lives in every aspect – no easy feat.

Balance, of course, is important when you find yourself overwhelmed like this. Balancing your career, personal life, work and studies and extra work and homework and Facebook. Therefore we pose the following hypothesis: The young professional needs to balance various interests through establishing habitual efficiency in every aspect of his/her life.

A few factors are important here, i.e. balance; the Millennial’s various interests; and efficiency. Efficiency being the buzzword, we’ll focus on that.

We often go about our routine, not nearly enough questioning the efficiency of our habits and actions – a dangerous trap.

Be careful of your thoughts, for they become your words. Be careful of your words, for they become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for they become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for they become your character. Be careful of your character, for it becomes your destiny. – Chinese proverb (credits to Boshoff, 2017 for reciting this to me).

Millennials have reported more stress than any other generation due to this generation’s blessing and curse of having choices. Too many, apparently (*cough* balance). Living an efficient life becomes an important factor in managing stress. An efficient life would constitute a life without waste in several aspects: food, exercise, work, housing, finance, transport, relationships, entertainment, communication.

Breaking your life down into neat little spheres makes it easier to optimise each aspect and reach the goal of an efficient life. A simple example of this is dedicating a few moments each week to create meal plans (the process of buying, making and consuming food takes remarkably more mental energy and time than you’d realise). You can then optimise grocery shopping and cooking dinner in batches for a week ahead or a weekend of entertaining guests. Optimising this process can also aid in your own design of a healthy lifestyle around more wholesome food and a better understanding of what goes into your body.

In the vein of a healthy lifestyle, optimising your exercise routine may not only motivate you to actually stick to it, but it will make the thought of exercising for the rest of your life much less overwhelming. For some, this may mean exercising at some random time of day when there is little traffic to the gym and for others, it may mean sneaking exercise into their life through refusing to take an elevator or escalator when they can take the stairs.

Almost 70% of Millennials are reported to work after office hours. Millennials are, in my opinion, hard workers. We are dedicated to fulfilment and always connected and online, creating blurred lines when it comes to work- vs downtime. Being most comfortable with technology, harnessing the plethora of digital resources to optimise your work sphere so you can avoid taking work home shouldn’t take any true Millennial too long, it merely requires critical reflection.

Optimising your home next, people often waste resources on much bigger houses than they can afford or need, merely for the sake of it. Furnishing and cleaning and paying for space you don’t need, or prime real estate in a neighbourhood you can’t really afford but sounds good when you tell people you live there, is terribly wasteful and terribly inefficient. Plan for what you actually need and use, not necessarily what you’ll grow into.

Contrary to popular belief, financial efficiency is not simply about being cheap or not spending money on anything. In fact, it is more about taking control and spending on the things that actually give you true value. It is about spending heavily on the things that make us happy and not spending excessively on things that provide fleeting excitement or temporary feelings. It is about organising and developing automatic systems to plan and manage your finances.

Location, Location, Location. Optimising your transport encompasses living close to where you spend your time. Optimise your transport by means of carpooling (still a bit new to us in SA, but about time we caught up) or biking to work (see exercise) or at least positioning yourself geographically to eliminate wasting hours in traffic.

A significant amount of emotional and mental energy goes into relationships. Relationships, while always time-consuming, can be optimised by choosing to spend your time with people who are moving you in a positive direction. In this regard, it may be more an issue of investing the energy relationships require exclusively in constructive relationships and actively avoid draining, negative relationships. Be intentional with relationships and don’t let electronics or mental stress steal your focus when spending time with people you care about.

Our tendency is to simply find the most exciting, comfortable, and affordable type of entertainment we can afford. We tend to do what our friends do or what we are asked to do. There is also a pressure that we tend to engage in entertainment that is expected of us. However, efficient entertainment, is getting the most value out of your time, energy, and money. Most people fail to take the time and really determine if they are actually getting full value in the way we entertain ourselves. Spending more money does not necessarily equate to more pleasure. Focus your entertainment on building and maintaining strong relationships to maximize the time and money you spend.

In a time we are constantly connected, communication is constant and overwhelming at times. Communication can be optimised through blocked time slots dedicated to checking emails and instant messages and social platforms (this is practically impossible, in my opinion). Another way to optimise your communication is through simply being mindful in your communication: take the extra few seconds to properly understand someone’s message and replying with all the information they require to avoid back and forths; be intentional with who you really want to communicate with constantly and prioritise them (and for the love of god, accept the fact that you don’t need to reply to every single message immediately or answer the phone each time it rings).

An efficient life is living with no wasted time, money or resources. Where the unnecessary has been removed and only the necessary remains. Physical and mental decluttering through a combination of knowledge, self-control and efficient habits. The Year of Efficiency has arrived and in between work, studies and dinner we wish each one the best of luck and an efficient 2017.