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Published on December 3, 2019

Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

The words “effective” and “efficient” have a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.

Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency when brainstorming ways to build upon strategy. Just because a company or employee has one, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.

Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity; while a lack of it, well, the positive results will be pretty slim.

Before we discuss the various nuances between each and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.

Effective vs Efficient

Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”[1]

A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.

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Now if you incorrectly set a timer for the light and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.

The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.

Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective, but not efficient; or efficient, but not particularly effective.

When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.

What Effectiveness in Success and Productivity Looks Like?

Effective is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation and they employ “method A” and successfully complete the job, then they’ve been effective at achieving the task that they were given.

The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.

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If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed the value in the service wasn’t up to par.

When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:

  • Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
  • What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
  • Does the cost balance out with the benefit?

Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent does a method, tool, or resource meet the above criteria and achieve the desired effect? If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks then productivity will likely suffer.

What Efficiency in Success and Productivity Looks Like

Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and perhaps most importantly, time, all factor into the equation.

Efficiency can be measured in numerous ways, but in general, the business that uses fewer materials is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition, assuming they’re also effective, of course.

Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle. The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal, but the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and ultimately closed deals.

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If less than 10 percent of those calls generate even a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach. Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.

The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.

Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity

If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective and because of that, they’re seriously at risk going under.

It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.

Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.

Businesses and employees often succumb to being inefficient because they don’t look for a better way of doing the right thing, or lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.

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Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.

By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics, and regularly looking at them once certain changes have been made, a company’s leaders will have a much better idea of what sort of results they’re generating within the business.

It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.

Bottom Line

Understanding the differences between being effective and efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:

  • Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
  • Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
  • Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.

And just like that, effective productivity is maximized. Easy enough, right?

More to Improve Productivity

Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: effective and efficient

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Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

Reference

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