Sometimes we take shortcuts to save ourselves time, but which cost others a lot of time because of the sub-par work product our time-saving shortcuts created. This is not an overall savings of time, but a wasting of time. Hence, though it seems efficient, it is not. We must think deeper.
Garr Reynolds illustrates this very well in his excellent book Presentation Zen. Though his specific example pertains to presentations, the principle applies to anything you do:
I can save time on the front end, but I may waste more time for others on the back end. For example, if I give a completely worthless one-hour death-by-PowerPoint presentation to an audience of 200, that equals 200 hours of wasted time.
But if I instead put in the time, say, 25-30 hours or more of planning and designing the message, and the media, then I can give the world 200 hours of worthwhile, memorable experience.
Software companies advertise time-saving features, which may help us believe we have saved time to complete a task such as preparing a presentation and “simplified” our workday. But if time is not saved for the audience — if the audience wants its time because we didn’t prepare well, design the visuals well, or perform well — then what does it matter that we saved one hour in preparing our slides?
Doing things in less time sometimes does indeed feel simpler, but if it results in wasted time and wasted opportunities later, it is hardly simple.