Think Effectiveness, Not Just Efficiency

7th November 2020

Author: Pramod Veturi, CEO, International Business

Have you ever felt this way? You spend the day finishing many tasks, but somehow, you think nothing much has been done at the end of the day. There is a simple reason for this feeling. You were likely to be efficient instead of being effective.

These two terms may sound similar, but there is a big difference between them.

Efficiency is when you perform any given task, it doesn’t matter if it is important or not, in the most economical manner.

On the other hand, effectiveness is when you do only those relevant tasks that take you closer to your objective.

A simple way to describe this difference is through the analogy of a Car. The Car’s speed is the measure of efficiency, while the direction is the measure of effectiveness. 

It doesn’t matter how fast the Car is moving if it is traveling in the wrong direction. There is value to the speed only if the Car is traveling in the right direction.

Checking e-mail 30 times a day and having an elaborate e-mail folder system to organize e-mails may be efficient but utterly worthless.

There is no point in being efficient at things that should not be done in the first place.

Tim Ferris, in his book The 4 Hour Work Week introduces two truisms that we should all keep in mind.

Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.

A task that requires a lot of time to complete does not make it important. 

Effectiveness is focussing on what is truly relevant and important and doing it efficiently. 

Imagine two individuals in a Sales role with a similar target.

One of them decides to adopt a direct selling approach. He is refined, diligent, and very skillful selling door to door. He is efficient at selling.

The other guy takes a different approach by investing time in acquiring some basic Digital Marketing skills. He then puts his acquired skills to use and maximizes coverage through e-mails and Direct Mails. He develops a funnel of prospects that he then closes face to face. This person is effective. He is also more productive than the first guy.

We become more productive when we focus all our energies on doing the right activities and block out unimportant and irrelevant tasks.

Steven Covey, in his seminal book The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, put it nicely. ” It’s incredibly easy to get caught in an activity trap, in the busyness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover that it is leaning against the wrong wall.”

Focus your energies scaling the right wall. Think effectiveness, not just efficiency.

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