If You Learn The Difference Between Effective vs Efficient, You’ll Solve Your Time Management Problem

Often, time management techniques focus on completing tasks as quickly as possible … so you can add more tasks to the list.  Although this is a great concept, it ignores 1 vital piece of data: which of those tasks are necessary to move you toward your goals? 

One of the biggest excuses I hear from a new Freedom Seeker (and one of the biggest excuses I had when I got started) is “I’m swamped at work, and when I get home I want to enjoy my brief family time before heading to bed and doing it all again tomorrow.  Where am I supposed to find the time to create my freedom??”

It’s a valid question.  But it’s also the wrong question!

Being Efficient

Being efficient means “achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort”. 

In other words, completing as many items on your to-do list as possible in the shortest amount of time, using the least amount of energy, and minimizing costs.

This is what every corporation seems to be chasing: “improving our efficiencies”.  When was the last time you were sitting at your desk, looking over your to-do list, trying to find something meaningful?  Something with a direct connection to the customer?  Something that directly affects the company’s bottom line?  Something that, if completed, would end up on your annual review?

That was me.  Every day.

No matter how much I completed, more tasks kept appearing.  The faster I completed them, the faster they seemed to appear.  It was a never-ending cycle.

Being Effective

Being effective means “being successful in producing a desired or intended result”. 

In other words, having a goal in mind, and performing only those tasks that help move you closer to reaching that goal.

Imagine that same to-do list.  Instead of attacking everything on the list, take a moment to consider which items on the list would move you and your team closer to your goals.  In the corporate world, this is generally the tasks that would help you achieve your monthly or annual performance targets.

Once you switch your focus to only those things that are essential you can focus on performing them as efficiently as possible.

 For help clarifying your goals, check out this post on how to set and achieve your goals.

the Pareto Principle: The 80/20 Rule

Vilfredo Pareto was the economist/sociologist who changed the world by analyzing the pea-pods he had planted in his garden. 

Pareto realized that 80% of the peas he gathered from his garden were produced by 20% of his crop.  As he expanded his focus, Pareto realized that this same distribution model was found throughout his garden, and in many other areas of society. 

Today “The Pareto Principle” is more commonly known as the “80/20 Rule”.

The Pareto Principle: roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Click To Tweet

How does this help to create our freedom? 

What does The Pareto Principle have to do with our Effective vs Efficient discussion?  Everything!

Using the efficiency model, we would say that we need to become better at sales to increase our revenues, or creating a better system to address all customer complaints would improve our products.  Sound familiar?  This approach is far too generic to create the results we need.

Consider the following:

  • 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts
  • 80% of profits come from 20% of our products or customers
  • 20% of complaints come from 80% of customers

How would knowing this change your efficiency game-plan?  Could you create a more effective system to increase revenue? 


If we focused on improving the customer experience for the 20% of customers who were responsible for 80% of our profits, they would be more likely to re-order, they would be more likely to try new products, and they would be more likely to recommend us to others who were just like them!

If we focused on addressing the 20% of the complaints experienced by 80% of our customers, we could drastically improve customer satisfaction, which often leads to an increase in revenue.

Interestingly, if we also found that 20% of our customers were responsible for 80% of unpaid invoices, we now know which customers we would want to stop doing business with.

Your Homework

Now that we know the difference between being effective vs efficient, we can make them work together to reach our goals even faster!

Learn to start each task with a simple question: “will I be completely satisfied with my day if this is the only task I complete?” 

Always arrive with a game-plan and clear list of priorities, otherwise you’ll fall into the trap of cleaning your email inbox or catching up on the latest social media posts.

Prioritization also removes the need for multi-tasking.  You’ll stop feeling as though you the need to complete more and more tasks to feel accomplished.  Did you know that splitting your time between more than one task actually takes longer than performing each task from start to finish without interruption?  Dividing your time results in frequent interruptions, lapses in concentration, and unfulfilled results.

If you’d like some help figuring out exactly which tasks on your to-do list deserve to stay and which need to be removed, be sure to download my free Freedom Seeker’s Passport here.  The chapter on Building Your Freedom includes worksheets to guide you, step-by-step, until you’re left with only the most important tasks for your individual goals.

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Be sure to comment below and let me know how many tasks you dropped from your to-do list!

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Here is a list of the resources mentioned in this post:

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