I’ve recently been reading through an incredible book, What’s Best Next, that gives a gospel centered approach on the Christian view of work and productivity.
One of the ideas that Matt promotes early on in the book is the idea that effectiveness > efficiency. I couldn’t agree more.
To explain his point, he gives a comical story of him going to handle an insurance claim for a house fire. In the story, he goes to the house to find a man quite surprised to see him there. After he tells him why he has come to his house, the man lets him in to do his work. After going through everything thoroughly and efficiently, he left the house to return back to the office only to find out he went to and quoted the wrong house altogether. Very efficient, not at all effective. As you may have guessed, he had to go back later to adjust the correct house, costing him the precious time he was trying to be efficient with in the first place.
Efficiency is pointless if it is guided in the wrong direction. It’s very easy to get off track and be efficient in the wrong thing, and that’s why it is so important to ensure that efficiency comes secondary to effectiveness. It is important to be efficient – it is even more critically important to be effective.
Sure – I could be efficient at answering emails for 8 hours a day every day, but is that an effective use of my time? I would argue that it’s not because then I wouldn’t have time to build new features, create new products and expand my business elsewhere. It’s great to be efficient at things but not at the risk of sacrificing the things that are important. I want to be effective with efficiency in mind, not efficient and reckless.
Are you being effective, or just efficient in the things that don’t matter?