In my day job, we have a daily meeting called a "stand up" that is supposed to take 15 minutes. Since I started back in June, that thing has NEVER taken 15 minutes. Most of the time, it's closer to an hour than anything else. There are usually 15-20 people in this meeting so consider, for a moment, just how much work is lost when so many people are tied for that long.
Never mind the toll on the feet. It's not called a stand up because you get to lounge in comfy chairs. Let it be known that I mostly wear boots to work (or sandals with a heel) and it is NOT comfortable to stand in one place that long. Plus I fidget like no other. But, I digress.
Now, we tried various ways to cut down the time, changing formats, etc. Nothing really helped. People would still go off on tangents and nobody would stop them. The point of a stand off is to update the team on what you're working on and what issues you have, if any. I'm not going to remember the 20 minute conversation between 3 people about implementation of some functionality (sorry all whose eyes just glazed over on that little bit).
Today, we attained the unattainable. A 15 minute stand up. Actually, it was a little less than 15 minutes. Want to know what changed? I ran the show.
Ok, it's not just my awesomeness, though I'm sure that helped. I ran through everyone's assignments and asked a simple question: "Any blockers or issues?" Most of the time people said no. I asked for progress in a few areas, a simple thing to answer with things like "I'm working on that now" or "I haven't started it yet." Short, simple phrases. Issues were briefly explained but if people tried to discuss solutions, I interjected with "let's take that offline."
15 minutes later I announced we'd finally done what none of those was possible. Needless to say, everyone was happy with the outcome. Everything that needed to be said was said. All of those needless discussions that only applied to a few people were tabled. People got the information they required without the other distractions.
What's the point of this story? Efficiency is needed in all aspects of writing. Whether it's tightening your story and stripping out that unnecessary filler bogging down your plot, or stripping out distractions so you can write when you have little time, efficiency is crucial. I can't tell you how many times I've read something (including my own writing) and thought to myself, "Self, why the hell couldn't they have gotten to the point faster?"
Be it cutting an hour long meeting to just 15 minutes or cutting an entire chapter of needless filler, try to take a look at being more efficient. It's easier said than done, believe me. But try not to discount the importance of being efficient :)