Is it Better to be Efficient or Productive?



Efficiency and Productivity often get used interchangeably, but while they go hand-in-hand, they’re not one and the same. 


What’s the difference between being efficient and being productive? And which one should we be striving for? 


Efficiency is producing something without excess waste in time, materials, or energy. Productivity on the other hand is simply the amount generated.


Productivity is doing the right things, while efficiency is doing those things right.  


I use the word productivity often in my marketing and with my clients, and it’s a big buzzword amongst entrepreneurs, organizations, and business owners. But efficiency is what we’re really all after. 

Truly fulfilling productivity comes when we are efficient and doing LESS to accomplish MORE. In order to be efficient though, you need to be productive first. 

It’s confusing, I know. Bear with me here. 

Once you have a system of productivity in place, you can then automate, delegate, and bring on the tools you need to make that system more efficient. 


Alright then, how can we be more productive, JoAnn? 


So glad you asked! 

The most productive people are all but idolized, and begged for their secrets, by their co-workers, spouses, and friends. They seem to have the magic solution for staying focused on tasks and getting tons of things done, don’t they? 

What they aren’t always telling you is that productivity isn’t about doing MORE, it’s actually about doing less. 


Here are six ways you can scoop up their secrets and start being more productive today: 


  1. Declutter. You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you? It’s true! The most productive people reduce the number of tasks on their to-do lists, the number of emails they need to respond to, the number of calls they take, and the things they commit to. They do less, they allow for fewer distractions, pings, dings, notifications, and focus on accomplishing what matters. 

  2. Clean up your work environment. As I mentioned before, it’s really hard to work with a too-full to-do list. It’s equally as hard to work in clutter, chaos, and disarray both in your physical workspace and your digital workspace. A clean environment is one that allows you to find what you need when you need it, access things quickly that help you along in your work, and keep your mind free and clear of distractions and mental clutter.

  3. Avoid multi-tasking. We already talked about eliminating distractions. Often when we commit to doing this, we also decrease the amount of multitasking we’re trying to do as well. Changing tasks more than 10 times a day drops your IQ an average of 10 points. Spoiler alert: human beings are notoriously bad at multitasking. Even if they claim to be good at it! Multitasking means you’re never giving your full attention to anything, you’re giving snippets of your attention to many things!

  4. Manage your time and inventory where it’s going. You may work all day, maybe even more than you intend to and at the end of it still feel like you accomplished nothing. Where did that time go? What did you actually do? Begin by tracking your time and finding out where it’s all going. What is taking longer than you anticipated? Where are you getting stuck or hung up? Once you get a bird’s eye view of what a day actually looks like for you, you can start working on the changes you need to manage your time better and make it work for you, rather than just slipping away without a sound.

  5. Map out your steps. One of the things I often remind my clients and those with whom I work is to map out the steps before creating the system. When it comes to repetitive, recurring tasks or busy work, a system or tools can often be relied on to make it easier and less manual. But the first step is to write out each step of the process to help you choose that system of efficiency more wisely and effectively. You need to know the steps before delegating and automating. I talk more about this here: Is Your Disorganization Costing You Time

  6. Let go of perfectionism. Perfectionism trips up so many people! It’s the reason so many spend hours writing an email that they could’ve done in ten minutes, or working on a blog post for an entire day. You have to let go of perfectionism and allow yourself to do the very best you can, imperfectly. I guarantee you that even when it’s deemed “perfect” by you, it’s not going to be perfect in the eyes of someone else! Perfection rarely exists so it’s a fruitless effort to constantly strive for it.

Ready for the efficiency part to come in? Now that you’re operating like a well-oiled machine and getting things done with these six tips, you can begin to implement tools and systems that help you to be more efficient. Project management software can help and I talk about how to pick one here:  What is the Best Project Management Software

Delegating, automating, and implementing digitized solutions that can help us work smarter, not harder to achieve more. 


I hope this helps, what will you do first to become more productive in your own life? I’d love for you to shoot me a message and share! 

If you need help on your quest, my membership is open and you’re invited to join us! Learn more and see if it would make a good fit for where you are in your journey HERE: