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Don't Strive For Efficiency At The Expense Of Effectiveness

by Wendy Hearn

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Published on this site: February 4th, 2004 - See more articles from this month

What is your level of effectiveness? What difference would it make to your life and work if this level were raised? One of the first steps to achieve this is to understand what being effective really means. I've found that many people confuse effectiveness with efficiency. They struggle to improve their efficiency but their effectiveness doesn't always improve. Striving for efficiency is sometimes at the expense of effectiveness.

What's the difference between effectiveness and efficiency?

Being effective means producing powerful effects. Being efficient means producing results with little wasted effort. It's the ability to carry out actions
quickly. However, by so doing, you may not necessarily be achieving effectiveness. Effectiveness allows you to accomplish the worthwhile goals you've chosen. The ones which support your vision and your mission.

For instance, you may be very efficient at working through your to-do list and completing a lot of it. However, when you shift to being effective, you may
choose to delegate part of it, stop doing some of it and focus on one or two things which will allow you to achieve your goal. Perhaps you're efficient at sending follow up letters to potential clients but being effective may mean only following up certain key ones, yet doing so in a fuller, more complete way.

Where does your time go?

When your intention shifts to being more effective, you can achieve your worthwhile goals in much less time. You choose the things which will make you more effective instead of doing more and more to achieve efficiency.

Effectiveness comes from taking the time to stop and evaluate, rather than running faster and faster. Discovering for yourself what effectiveness means, and what it will take for you to achieve this, is an area in which a coach works, both with individuals and organisations. When I'm working with clients, we often focus on their effectiveness. The coaching session we conduct by telephone once a week gives them the opportunity to stop, look at where they are and where they want to be.

I believe that by taking time out, this allows you to increase your effectiveness. I'm also a great believer in taking this time at regular intervals during your
day. So many people set out to work harder and harder, without really looking to see if they're being effective. I've found that what works best for me, and most of my clients use this, is to work for 15 minutes slots with breaks of a few minutes in between.

I strongly believe that if more people worked in this way, companies would be much stronger and more effective. For instance, lets say you're working on a proposal. You work on it for 15 minutes and then put it aside for the next few minutes. You can use this break to either stretch your legs, step outside for fresh air, enjoy a period of quiet reflection or to clear thoughts from your mind. You choose what would feel most useful.

When you return to your proposal for the next 15 minutes, you'll probably find that something occurs to you which you'd forgotten, or you didn't see as being very important. You may find you now have a different perspective on it or you now have a solution to something you were stuck on. It's increased your effectiveness. When you only have 15 minutes, you'll work more effectively to achieve more within this artificial deadline.

What I want is for you to be effective in achieving your goals and vision.

Wendy Hearn

She works with business owners, professionals and executives to discover and unlock their own inspiration, to effortlessly take the actions required to have the success they desire. To receive Wendy's fre^e newsletter, send an email to:
[email protected]
Copyright 2004, Wendy Hearn. All rights reserved.

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