I read this story once that said that in the 60’s when the Russians and Americans where competing to get the first man to the moon, the American astronauts discovered that their pens didn’t work in space. They couldn’t write because there was no gravity to pull the ink out onto the paper. So NASA spent thousands of US dollarsto invent an anti-gravity pen. Their Russian counterparts simply used a pencil…
How much truth there is to this story I have not determined, but it is useful in describing the fine difference between efficiency and effectiveness. Knowledge that is proving to be fundamental in surviving this day and age where living in.
Some clarification: Efficiency means making the most out of limited resources. Effectiveness relates to how close something came to its goal.
You can be efficient without being effective when you spend hours creating an extensive folder system in your Inbox instead of answering your e-mails or if you rearrange all your sales leads instead of calling them. You’re being very organised, but you have not moved yourself closer to your goal of answering your e-mails or making sales.
You can of course also be effective without being efficient. From our story above we can see that the Americans were effective – they did manage to invent a ‘space pen’ and write in space – but at what cost? The more efficient solution was the use of a pencil.
Efficiency and effectiveness is however not a case of the one vs the other. It is about finding balance and about being effective in the most efficient manner possible. In an era where both time and money is valued higher than ever before, it will be to our benefit to train ourselves to attain this goal.
The simplest way in which to do this is to set yourself a reminder to go off at set intervals during your workday. Perhaps initially every 2 hours, then every 4 hours (2 – 4 times per day) asking yourself: “Am I doing busyness or business?”
It won’t be long until the mindset has infiltrated the way you execute daily tasks, do long-term planning and even decide which social responsibilities you take on. All to the aim of maximizing the impact you have on the world and ensuring you spend your time on the things that are most valuable to you.