Efficiency and effectiveness are not the same. Often, we believe that our to-do lists and tightly planned schedules make us extremely effective. But we forget: 1 day = 24 hours. 1 week=168 hours. That will not change, not with the best time management. Therefore, we should learn to shift our focus to working more efficiently, not effectively. First, one must understand the difference, only then our 5 tips can truly help you.
Efficiency vs Effectiveness
Working less und still being more successful? Yes, that is possible. The key is not effectiveness, but efficiency. Therefore, it is important to clarify the misunderstanding between the two first. A few examples to do so:
The difference becomes clear:
With effectiveness, you will reach the goal eventually but you don’t consider how. One only asks: What has to be done?
With efficiency you will reach the goal AND you think about the way that will get you there.
One will ask: How does this have to be done?
5 Tips to increase your work efficiency
If you understand the difference between effectiveness and efficiency, you will also understand that more work does not necessarily equal more productivity. Following, we will share 5 tips with you, that will help you work more efficiently:
Efficiency tip: Think more, make less mistakes
- System 1 = slow, reflective, logical thinking
- System 2 = fast, intuitive thinking that influences our actions
Here an example from the book:
A bat and a ball cost 1,10$ together, the bat costs 1$ more than the ball. How expensive is the ball? You have 10 seconds…
Was your answer 10 cents? That is what system 1 tried to tell you at least, working a lot faster than system 2. However, the correct anser is 5 cents.
As leader, you make many important decisions. Therefore, it is important to understand and question your own thinking processes. In order to work truly efficiently, you should take some time to think.
Efficiency tip: Break-Power
When there are piles of work, slowly building up on your desk, the emails won’t stop pouring in and the to-do list seems endless, we often cancel our break. To deal with the stress though, you must give your body the chance and time to regenerate.
It has been advised to take a break every 90 minutes, even if you can only spare 5 minutes! Every 4 hours, the body needs a longer break, as studies have revealed, to find new energy.
Don’t underestimate the power of taking a break – being concentrated and thus, efficient, is not possible if you try and focus for 8 hours, non stop. The only thing that wil lead to? Burnout.
So, take a break, gather strength and work efficiently.
Efficiency tip: Standup meetings
Stand up meetings will not only make you, but the whole team more effective:
In 1999 Allen Bluedorn conducted a study at the university of Missouri. 500 economic students were divided into groups of 5 and got the following question:
“You have landed on the moon and have no contact to planet earth. Please rank the following 15 objects based on their importance for survival.”
Half of the group discussed standing up, the other sitting down. In order for the results to be compared to a professional judgment, NASA experts were asked about their opinions regarding the objects previously.
The result was clear: While the end result did not show significant differences, the standing group took 34% less time on average, than those sitting down.
You see, introducing this method at your next team meeting, is definitely worth a try!
Efficiency tip: Monotasking, do less, achieve more
For a long time, multitasking was considered a must-have competence for our every-day work life. Nowadays, however, it has been revealed that multitasking is counterproductive for working efficiently. This is due to the fact that our brain must re-orientate itself after every new task which has a negative impact on the efficiency.
The solution to the problem? Monotasking. The trick is, to first identify the priority of each task. Then, one after another, you work them through. It’s advisable to get rid off all other distractions around you (emails, phone, etc.) so that there is no temptation for you to shift your focus elsewhere.
Efficiency tip: self-management instead of time management
In the TED Talk by Laura van der Kam, she makes an interesting statement: All too often, we say that we don’t have time. But reality is different:
“I don’t have time” = “It is not my priority”
She emphasizes how important it is for us to realize that we always have the choice about how we spend our time. Saying that we don’t have time, only means that something else is more important.
Therefore, self-management is crucial – you must first be clear about your priorities. Laura gives the tip, to take out some time each Friday afternoon, to plan the following week.
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