I have always been a freak about efficiency - I guess it is a combination of having an appreciation for aspects of engineering and having the tendency to be slightly obsessive-compulsive from time to time. Optimization yields efficiency.
In my day-to-day life, I try to optimize whenever possible - from lines of code in a long web app to simple things like how many loads of laundry I do in a given month. I always try to find the fastest way to get from point A to point B without affecting the quality of the end product.
Optimization is really key to progressing and evolving as an individual. As you optimize aspects in your life, you can begin to take on new things, bigger responsibilities, and explore different options.
Programmers always boast about optimization of code, but I think the principle can apply to all areas of our life - even design. Some of the best designs I have seen have been optimized for simplicity and communication. It is all about getting the core functionality of something and removing the clutter.