Efficiency vs Effectiveness

Time management. For the home business person, it can be a hard area to conquer. There is always something around the house waiting to be done. When you’re working, you’re thinking about the laundry or making supper or picking up that clutter you can see through the open doorway. When you’re doing things around the house you’re thinking about the article you could be writing or that new product idea you should be working on or some marketing that needs to get done. How do you find a balance?

One of the first priorities is: know thyself. When are you most productive? Does the energy and ideas flow best in the morning? Mid day? Late afternoon? Make it a priority to do the things that are going to move you closer to your goals during the time you are productive and have the quiet time to get those things done. For example, some of my business activities, especially those related to keeping things neat and orderly, can be done with kids in and out of my office, asking questions and needing help. So I save those jobs for the times I know the house is apt to be chaotic. Other activities like planning a marketing strategy, learning a new skill, or writing sales copy, require a bit more focused attention. I try to work on those things when everyone is busy elsewhere. I’m typing this post, for example, at 4:00 in the afternoon. Supper is already going in the crock pot, daughter is in her room studying, hubby is still at work and the little guy is outside playing with friends. Later, when everyone is prowling around after supper, I’ll do mindless stuff like look through the email.

If you set your day up in blocks with a definite start and end time you can get things done efficiently and still be effective in your business. If you know you are at your best first thing in the morning, arrange your schedule to do the most important business related tasks during that time. Set a deadline, say of 1 hour or 2 if you have that much time. If you know you have to get a task done in the allotted time, you will work with more focus and be less prone to distractions. If you let things lag on all day long without boxing them into their own time period, every little temptation that comes along will distract you from your goal. Once your time is up, go on to the next activity. Set times for work, time for chores and time for fun.

Efficiency is getting a lot done. Effectiveness is getting the right things done. There are thousands of time management gurus out there with ideas for how to be efficient. You could spend a year reading all the books and organizing your life. You could spend thousands of dollars buying the day planners, electronic PDA’s and software to categorize, prioritize and compartmentalize every bit of your life. You may even get really really good at checking off massive to-do lists every day. However, if you aren’t doing what’s important, if you’re running around putting out fires all day long, you may be efficient, but you’re not effective.

What’s the difference? Efficiency is doing as much as possible in as little time as possible. Effectiveness is doing that which makes a difference. Lets say, for example, your goal is to make and sell a product. If you spend your day browsing the internet for ideas, looking over supplies you might possibly, maybe, need one day in the future, organizing your workspace, cleaning the bathroom, and emailing your friend about your ideas, you may get a lot done, you may be efficient, but were you effective in moving closer to your goal?

Decide on what is important for you to do. Find your best time of the day and schedule the priorites for that time. Set a limit and do what you can in the time allowed. Take breaks for fun, family and exercise. Just these few ideas can make you more effective and more relaxed as you make real progress toward your goals.

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