One is considered efficient when one get results using the least amount of time, space, effort, and money. Sometimes people are so anxious to be efficient that they lose their effectiveness. There is a difference between being efficient (prudent in the use of skills and resources) and being effective (achieving the desired outcomes). The ideal is to be efficient and effective, then we are successful in the outcome as well as the usage of time (a most precious commodity). In our desire to become as efficient as possible, we should never sacrifice the well-being of others in order to achieve the goal. People are always most important. Their growth and happiness are always the measure of true success. When we are both efficient and effective, then we realize success in achieving our goals as well as enhancing the lives of our associates. This brings true fulfillment and happiness.
“With Paul, as he wrote to the Philippians, I plead with all [people] to be doers, as well as thinkers, and thereby translate their thoughts into deeds and to live their thoughts to the highest level of their ideals.
“Time is the raw material of life. Every day unwraps itself like a gift, bringing us the opportunity to spin a fabric of health, pleasure, and content and to evolve into something better than we are at its beginning. Success is contingent upon our effective use of the time given us. When we cease peering backwards into the mists of our past, and craning forward into the fog that shrouds the future, and concentrate upon doing what lies clearly at hand, then we are making the best and happiest use of our time. Success is the ratio of our accomplishments to our capacities” (Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973], 110).
Here are six strategies to help you be successful with your efficiency and effectiveness:
1. Invest your time and effort doing the right things. Efficiency is doing things well; effectiveness is doing the right things well.
2. Choose the best operating principles.
- Base your actions on principles and values that never go out of style. In the long run, how efficient and effective you are depends on how you align yourself with principles that are always true. You can be “efficient” with the quick fix, but only a foundation of true and correct principles can make you effective.
- Set a standard for quality and honor it. There is no advantage in getting a product finished on time if the product is shoddy.
3. Make a plan.
- Find the optimum solution. Evaluate your task in advance. Look for the best solution.
- Make sure the goal requires efficiency. Some things, such as our relationships with loved ones do not do well when we try to cut corners with time and effort.
- Break your big plans down into little ones, those important daily actions that propel you toward your intended outcomes.
- Where possible, increase your leverage by combining tasks.
4. Get organized. Efficiency in all things, especially time, requires organization as well as planning.
5. Build a team.
- Build support. Involve those who are part of your plan. Show them the vision and benefits.
- Delegate skillfully and use accountability as you follow through.
- Get feedback. Honor and thank those who tell you the truth.
6. Work smart.
- Do it right the first time. Having to repeat the task decreases efficiency. One should never sacrifice quality for efficiency.
- You can determine efficiency and effectiveness only if you establish daily and weekly actions that can be measured.
- Stay with it. Make mid-course corrections as you go.
“The Scrap Heap”
I had graduated from college and was preparing for dental school. I took a job as an Industrial Engineer. An Industrial Engineer works with efficiency, time motion studies, cost analysis, and savings in any given operation. It was exciting work. This was the point in life when I was introduced to the concepts of efficiency and effectiveness in the real world. These two go together. You need to understand their relationship and interdependence. The story begins as the pipe mill where I was working had set production standards relating to the incentive plan for the different areas of production. Each group depended upon the other. If one was efficient (timely and within budget), but not effective (poor quality), it eventually cost all of the mill workers money, because the mistakes took time to get off the line, be scrapped, and sent back to the steel mill for recycling. This was an ongoing problem. One day I was walking in the yard looking at the “scrapped pipe” —it was appalling. Row upon row of abandoned product waited for recycling because it did not meet the quality standards of the plant. Here was a monument to ineffectiveness in the form of a gigantic scrap heap. That’s when I learned never to sacrifice effectiveness for the sake of efficiency. How many unnecessary scrap heaps await recycling in our relationships and life-long projects simply because we fail to balance efficiency and effectiveness successfully? (Ed J. Pinegar)
“Leading means doing the right things, while managing means just doing things right.” —Warren Bennis
“Crises are often created by an inability to distinguish between urgency and importance. . . . The more planning you do, the fewer crises you will experience.” —Odette Pollar
The time, effort, and money wasted by inefficiency is enormous. Businesses lose millions, mothers often become overwhelmed at home, and productivity in our lives is decreased. Remember that time cannot be stored. Make efficiency your friend to give you more time, space, and money; and just think, you won’t have to work beyond your capacity and strength. As you seek to increase your efficiency and effectiveness, never shortchange the things that matter most: people and your values. Your greatest success will be in your own home.
This article has been adapted from What We Need to Know and Do, by Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.