Effective or Efficient: Which Should You Be?
Clarity – that’s the word of the week I’ve chosen to emphasize as I go into the new year.
So I’m starting by clearing things up on the idea of effectiveness versus efficiency, because knowing the difference between the two can impact your entire vision and improve clarity, so that you can see your end goals without all the noise and fog hindering your focus.
If you’re like me, you probably use these two words interchangeably – don’t they mean the same thing?
Not really, no, although most people think so (don’t worry, I did too).
One of the professional development books that I consider a must-have is Tim Ferriss’ The 4 Hour Work Week. This book has significantly helped to re-wire my working mindset.
In a sub-topic of one of the chapters, Ferriss explains the difference between being effective versus being efficient – and it was eye-opening for me.
“Which do I
want need to be to grow my biz and accomplish my career goals? Effective or efficient?”
After realizing that there is a critical difference between the two, I knew the answer to my question without a doubt.
And it’s an answer I constantly refer to when I set new goals or work towards existing ones because it helps keep me on track.
If you’re a biz owner, or just have some professional goals you’d like to focus on this year, start by asking yourself whether being effective or efficient will help your productivity more. I promise that asking yourself this question can keep you on track to grow your biz and reach your goals.
But first, in order to answer that question, you’ll need to understand the meaning of each word, so you can distinguish between the two.
What does being effective mean?
The first dictionary definition of effective is, “
What does being efficient mean?
The first dictionary definition of efficient is, “
Efficiency doesn’t necessarily get you producing, nor does it directly lead you to accomplish a purpose.
Efficiency is how you do something.
If you check your email several times a day and spend time classifying these emails into separate folders and categories, this might be improving your efficiency. But is it effective? Is it actually helping you to produce, or achieve your end goal? Nope!
So which do you want to be – effective or efficient?
Ideally, you want to be both – you should be effective, that is, producing or accomplishing, in the most efficient manner.
But, if you have to choose between the two, always go with effective.
Remember, effectiveness is WHAT you do and efficiency is HOW you do it.
What you do will always trump everything else.
There are two truths explained in the 4 Hour Work Week that are related to the effective versus efficient question, so I’ll share them here.
First, doing an unimportant task well (or efficiently) doesn’t make it important.
Second, spending a lot of time on a task does not make the task important.
So, as we go into the new year with our new-found knowledge, let’s ask ourselves what increases our productivity – being effective or being efficient?
I hope you can answer that, and keep the answer in the frontline as you navigate your biz and productivity goals.
When you stumble upon a task, or find yourself working throughout the day, ask yourself if you’re being effective, or if you’re being efficient.
I promise you differentiating between the two will help keep your vision on track.