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Improving Personal Efficiency At Work And In Life Commerce Essay

Info: 3108 words (12 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 1970 in Commerce

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The author of this paper is an engineering professional, who applies science (in the engineering inquiring system) to the real world during his work (Van Gigch, 2006). Organizations are continuously exploring methods to eliminate waste to lower the production cost and increase efficiency. This concept has evolved from a “Two Bin System” to a “kanban System” and most recently to a “Toyota Production System” (Hill, 2005). The author is intrigued by this organizational idea of reducing waste and increasing efficiency. He would like to apply the similar concept to increase personal productivity and efficiency at work and in his personal life.

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The proposed action plan intends to improve personal efficiency of the author at work and in life. The author deals with a variety of activities and tasks in his personal and work life during the day. These activities and tasks can vary from a simplest activity, such as starting a car ten minutes before departing for work, to solving a complex at work such as why a fastener broke during the assembly, and to writing a research paper for school.

The phenomenon of friction is well known in a manufacturing industry. “The usual engineering definition of friction is the resistance to relative motion of contacting bodies” (Booser, 1983, p. 31). “Magnitude of friction is usually expressed as a coefficient of friction (µ), which is the ratio of the force F required to initiate or sustain relative tangential motion to the normal N which presses the two surfaces together. Thus µ = F/N” (Booser, 1983 p. 31). The right amount of friction is needed for two components to work efficiently and minimize wear. The same concept can be applied in work and life to improve personal efficiency. This action plan will develop a strategy to lower (balance) the “friction” in order to improve personal efficiency. “Progress is becoming skilled consists largely in eliminating the useless” (Laird, 1952, p.32).

Productivity conceptually has two dimensions: efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency is the level and quality of obtained from the amount of resources available (Smith, 1995). “Competent performance defines efficiency doing something and doing something right” (Smith, 1995. p. 7). The author will be exploring methods to produce a greater quantity with higher quality with the same amount of resources to improve his efficiency. The way in which the provider meets needs and demands of objectives defines effectiveness. A productivity plan is an action plan designed to achieve the twin goals of efficiency and effectiveness (Smith, 1995).

“Effectiveness relates to the extent to which the provider meets the needs and demands of the objectives.” Improving productivity is a multi-faceted concept, which is linked with the achieving the goals efficiently and effectively. “A productivity initiative is more than the statement of a set of goals; it is a plan to foster the achievement of those goals. It is an “action plan” designed to allow the system to get from here to there.” (xxxx, xxxx)

Productivity = f (efficiency, effectiveness) (Smith, 1995)

The author has analyzed through the journaling activities during the course of “Strategic Management of Human Resources” that “Personal Efficiency” (PE) is affected by several factors. These factors are goal setting, communication style, negotiation and collaboration skills, art of persuasion, procrastination, locus of control, motivation, behavior and attitude, stress and burnout, influence, power authority, personal temperament, and networking. (Nelson, 2006)


The author has gone through several self assessment exercises to identify his weaknesses and strengths. The author leads a busy personal and work life, thus it is important for the author to be efficient. The author will look at several factors to improve upon his “Personal Efficiency” within this action plan. The author agrees with Edmund and Morris (2000) that “having too much information which uses up too much of their time, causes to feel stressed which, in turn, affects our decision making” (Karlsson, 2006, page number) further, “The extreme development of natural material resources and their conservation in paralleled by a pitiable neglect of human mental resources” (Laird, 1952, p. 1). The development in information technology has provided the author with various planning tools such as a personal computer, blackberry, palm organizer, and Microsoft outlook express, but not necessarily all of these additional aids have improved his efficiency. Within this action plan, the author will develop a plan to understand the utility level of available aids.

Action Plan

The author used a competency card tally sheet to analyze and assess his competencies. “Timely Decision Making”, “Organizing” and “Priority Setting” are the three competencies on which the author will focus. The author will use goal setting techniques and decision making models to improve upon stated timely decision making, organizing, and priority setting competencies. The author will use performance measurement system (PMS) to evaluate performance of accomplishment.

The action plan will use a sequential process. First, data will be collected, second the data will be organized, and third an action plan will be formed, fourth the action plan will be executed. Finally, the process will be reviewed and reanalyzed periodically.

Goal Setting

“A goal is a measurable accomplishment to be achieved within a specified time and under specific time constraints” (Rouillard, 2002 p.4). The goal setting offers motivation and a tool for performance measurement (Griffen et al, 2009). The author will use “SMART” approach for goal setting. The author understands that the goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic and that they should be subject to deadlines. The author will set challenging goals which require effort, yet still be attainable (Griffen et al, 2009). The author will use a sequential process to set goals. First, he will brainstorm all the goals by writing them down on a notebook, those he would like to attain in his life. Second, he will categorize these goals by the time limit he would like to them achieved. The goals will be categorized by month, six months, one year, two years, five years, and ten years. After analysis author may find that some of the initial goals are thoughts and need not be classified as goals. The goals will be further analyze for acceptance of author. Next, the plan for accomplishment of all the goals will be set. The progress of each goal will be reviewed periodically. Daily goals will be reviewed daily, monthly goals will be reviewed weekly, semi-annual goals will be reviewed monthly, annual goals will be reviewed quarterly and bi-annual goals, five years. During the review, if it is found that a goal was not achieved within the time allocated than it will be analyzed for the reasons. The analysis will help the author to understand the reasons for failure to make necessary improvements. The analysis will provide information whether the author lacked the resources to accomplish the goal(s), or whether there was an uncertain event that occurred during the period. If analysis presented that the author lacked the resources than reevaluation of the resources will be done. If analysis presented that there was an uncertain event occurrence during the period than the author will reevaluate the deadline for the goal(s). (Griffen et al, 2009).

Procrastination has always been a factor for the poor performance for the author. There are times when decisions are made very rapidly and at other times they take much longer. Procrastination increases stress and uncertainty (Griffen et al, 2009).The purpose of developing timely decision making skills is to be able to make the best possible decision with the information available (Gowin, 1917).

Decision Making Model

Temperament analysis from the book identified the author as an ESTJ personality type, where “E” stands for extrovert, “S” for sensing, “T” for thinking and “J” for judging. “The “T,” or “Thinking” personality most often makes decisions based on logic and optimization. This style of decision making fits with rational model of decision making. There are constraints in relation to available time and information which prohibit practicing a rational decision making model. (Griffen et al, 2009)The author will use a decision support system to understand how to use an alternative decision making model. “Herbert Simon suggested that there are limits to how rational a decision maker can actually be.” (Nelson et al, 2006, p. 319).

“The objective is to find acceptability and effectiveness in the results. This decision orders classification forms the basis for the decision alignment framework”(Scherpereel, 2005 PAGE NUMBER). Bounded rationality model can be an alternative choice for the author to develop a heuristics approach for decision making. The author will list and evaluate alternatives to select a “good enough” alternative to make the decision timely.(xxxx). To understand the likely consequences of decisions, the author will analyze the importance of individual factors and choose the best course of action. “It is the alignment of decision problem characterization (or primal elements) with available approaches (or dual elements) that determine the adequacy and efficacy of a decision” (Scherpereel, 2005 Page Number).

The following steps will be used to develop timely decision making competency. The author will define the goal and assign a deadline to achieve the goals. He will record the activities in a log book to track the time spend on each activity. The log book will also be used to create matrix to design the decision support system. The author will practice the timely decision making with smaller tasks to create a habit of making decisions on time. “Motor habits, or habits of doing, are all that many people include as habits in their thinking” (Leird, 1952, p.44). “Form the habit of sticking to a job until it is done” (Leird, 1952, p.177).

An example of this task would be starting the car in the morning ten minutes before heading to work in winter. The author will monitor this activity through the log book until this activity becomes a programmed decision making. He will develop an evaluation system to understand pro and cons of decisions. After identifying the pro and cons of the making the decisions, he will apply the strategy to make the decisions. “If you really want to increase your mental efficiency do these things, do not just read them” (Leird, 1952, p.35).

The author will continuously read scholarly material and consult with an expert on his decision making competency.

Decision Support System

The author will develop a decision support system (DSS) to improve upon timely decision making competency. “G. Mallach (1994) stated that The Decision Support System (DSS) is a system whose purpose is to provide knowledge with information on which to base informed decisions” (Chong, 2001. p. 1). “Decision Support System generates information used to support a decision” (Chong, 2001. p. 1).

Next, the author will use cognitive maps (CM) as a tool to develop the decision support system. In a Cognitive Map, concepts are connected with lines, arrows, and blocks. The information in blocks represents concepts (cn) in the problem domain and the line will represent the causal relationships within the concepts. The causal relationship can be positive or negative. In the case of a positive relationship, an increase or decrease in the cause variable shows the effect variable moving in the same direction. In a negative relationship, the cause concept causes the effect concept to move in the opposite direction (Chong, 2001).

Need groceries – T1

Total time available on weekend – T5

Car needs oil change – T2

Finish SMHR action plan – T3

Meeting friends in evening – T4

+ 1.50 hr

+ .50 hr

+ 15.00 hr

+ 2.0 hr

Figure 1.1: Cognitive map showing activities on the weekend (Chong, 2001)

Figure 1.1 shows a cognitive map to illustrate tasks those need to be completed and leisure time planned for the weekend. Figure 1.1 also shows an incident which was not the part of planning. This cognitive map (CM) is drawn to identify the utilization on available time on the weekend efficiently and effectively. Each activity has given identification e.g. “need groceries” is identified as “T1″(Chong, 2001).

After the CM is created, it is transformed from a diagram to a matrix. Fist, the diagram is translated to an N x N matrix (where N is the number of activities used in the map). Then, the rows and columns in the matrix are labeled with domain concepts (Chong, 2001).

“After drawing the CM, the map undergoes a diagram-to-matrix transformation. The process begins with the creation of an N x N matrix where N is the number of activities used in the map. The rows and columns in the matrix are labeled with domain concepts.” (xxxx, Page Number)

T1 T2 T3 T4 T5

T1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.50

T2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .50

T3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 15.00

T4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.00

T5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

Fig 1.2: Matrix for the Cognitive Map on Fig 1.1

The fig. 1.2 shows a matrix of the information transferred from the cognitive map shown in fig. 1.1. The matrix shows “the entry at row i, column j is the signed degree to which the activity (the source concept) influences” (Chong, 2001, p. 3). When there is not relationship with an activity (Ti) to another activity (Tj) the value zero is inserted for the relationship. E.g. the activity T1 has no relationship with T2 on the cognitive map thus matrix has a zero entry for that relationship whereas activity T1 to T5 has a relationship that it will take 1.5 hour from the weekend thus it is given a 1.5 entry. The same concept (c) will be used throughout for information transformation from cognitive map to matrix. The author will be able adapt to this model after few practices (Chong, 2001).

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The summation of the activities will tell the author whether he was able to utilize the available time for the weekend effectively. For example, the sum of the matrix in the example shown on fig 1.2 is 19.0. The author had 2.0 hours allocated for leisure time from the total 19.0 hours available for the weekend. The summation calculation from the matrix shows that the author used 19.0 hours to accomplish all the activities. Thus he was able utilize the available time over the weekend effectively. The author will use the similar method for more complex problems (Lettieri et al, 2008).

The author will make cognitive maps for one concept every week. This information will be made into a matrix as illustrated above. The information will be compiled into another matrix once the concept (tasks within the concept) is completed. The simple calculation for summation will be used to identify the efficiency of the proposed matrix to the actual matrix. Figure 1.2 shows the relationship between two matrixes before and after the completion of concept (Chong, 2001).

T1 T2 T3 T4 T5

T1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.50

T2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .50

T3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 15.00

T4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.00

T5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

T1 T2 T3 T4 T5

T1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.00

T2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .50

T3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 14.50

T4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.00

T5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0



Fig 1.3: Matrix for before and after completion of the concept

The summation calculation for the proposed matrix before the concept is completed is 19.00 hours whereas 18.00 hours for the matrix after concept is completed (Corral, 2008).

This calculation provides the author with information for making future decisions as related to the activities defined with the illustrated concept (c1). The concept (c1) illustrates a very simple activity such as buying groceries as well as the complex activity of writing an action plan for the study course. The decisions the author faces can range from simple, with established programmed rule to complex decisions which require creative solutions (Chong, 2001).

Most important is to identify the measures of efficiency and effectiveness based on the stated goals and objectives (Locke et al, 1981). The author assumes that in some cases it may be necessary to begin with new data collection for the appropriate measures. Finally, the productivity improvement process calls for new strategies to be developed for improving and monitoring productivity. Such strategies should be based on the goals and objectives first extrapolated (Griffen et al, 2009).

Work and life balance

Dr. Adam Butler, a psychology professor, suggested in his research that individuals should avoid preoccupation with work while at home (2010). The author will practice Dr. Butler’s suggestion including finding challenges and learning opportunities outside of work and relaxation to enjoy leisure time. The author will also execute a plan to exercise regularly. These activities will help the author to balance life and work to become more efficient.


Productivity is the function of efficiency and effectiveness. The author has developed this action plan to improve his personal efficiency by using various decision making models, goal setting and motivation techniques. He will also use decision support systems, cognitive maps, and a strategy for work and life balance to improve his personal efficiency. The author has analyzed his competencies by using competency card tally sheet and other several self assessment tools taught during the course of Strategic Management of Human Resources. The sequential process action plan will be reviewed and reanalyzed periodically.


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