I was recently reminded of the difference between being efficient and being effective. When we run around all day long checking items off our to do list like it's our job, we are being super efficient. But when we stop focusing on how many items we check off and start focusing on what items we are spending our time on, we can be much more effective with our time. I know it feels good to check an item off your list, and I'll be the first to admit that I've written something down after I've completed it, just so I could close it off (you too?). But ultimately, does it matter if we cross off everything on our list each day, or that we are spending our time wisely by investing in things that are actually important even if it means sacrificing some of those check marks?
Being efficient versus being effective
So tell me, are you guilty of being slave to your list like me? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a well organized to do list and getting things done, but not at the cost of doing the things that really matter. Dictionary.com defines the two words like this:
Effective (adj.) – Adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.
Efficient (adj.) – Performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort.
Being effective means doing because of the purpose and meaning. Being efficient means doing things so that you get more done in less time, regardless of the depth of the task. I know I’m guilty of focusing on being efficient rather than being effective all too often. I think it is a natural tendency as busy women to want to get it all done and do it quickly so we can fit in as much as possible. But when I was reminded of this the other day, I started to look at my to do list differently.
Why I'm shifting my mindset to effectiveness first
When we are limited on time, we have to choose to spend our time wisely. Instead of looking at my to dos just as what I can get done, I am looking at them as what do I need to get done. What is most important and why is it important? I don’t want to do anything in life without a strong why behind it. Not even the smallest task. So why do I revert to this when it comes to my to do list? I’m shifting my mindset to thinking about things with effectiveness first. I’m focusing on those things that will help me be a better mom, wife, and business owner. I’m setting aside those to dos that hold less meaning for the ones that hold more.
Being effective and efficient
Being more effective doesn’t mean you have to lose efficiency. You know I’m a big fan of being productive over being busy, and I believe that you can be effective and be efficient at the same time too. Even though you are choosing to do the more purposeful things first, you can still implement productivity tools that help you make the most of your time. Choosing effectiveness is the first step in using your time more wisely, but being efficient in those tasks helps you get even more out of your time. Not only will you feel more fulfilled by focusing on the more effective tasks, but you will also feel accomplished by being efficient with those tasks too.
Are you being efficient or effective? Even though you probably already knew it deep down, it's always good to hear the reminder. I know I needed it. Next time you look at you list, think about how effective you can be with your time without sacrificing efficiency.