While efficiency and effectiveness are similar-sounding and often confused, the two have vastly different meanings when it comes to getting your work done.


Being efficient means you are working in a well-organized and competent way. With so many things to do, it is easy to get bogged down with efficiently completing tasks on your to-do list. If nothing else, every time you cross an item off your list, you get a little endorphin rush.

Much like sugary, sweet candies, it seems like a good idea when you’re doing it. It’s only later, when the important and meaningful work has not been accomplished (or you’ve put on some weight and ended up with a few cavities) that you regret your decision to go for the instant gratification.


Being effective means you are successful in producing a desired or intended result. Matching your efforts with the work that requires your unique skill set will result in higher level work. More engaging, more difficult, more time consuming but infinitely more rewarding.

The difference between being efficient and being effective can be the difference between getting a job done or doing the kind of work that gets you promoted.


Here are some important questions to ask yourself to help distinguish between whether you are being efficient or effective:

1. Am I efficient only at doing unimportant tasks?

2. Am I busy just doing things or am I getting things done?

3. Am I matching priorities with tasks?

Focus attention on tasks that help you attain goals. This will ultimately help you find a better balance and become more effective.

Author's Bio: 

Sharon F. Danzger founded Control Chaos in 2006. As a productivity consultant, she provides group training and individual coaching.

Ms. Danzger’s diverse background in financial services, non-profits, and small business enables her to offer a unique perspective on finding efficiency and balance. She tailors her approach to be industry specific and culturally focused based on her actual work and client experience.

Sharon holds a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MS in Real Estate from New York University. She is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU).