When working to get things done, we usually think in terms of being efficient. How do we use our time, money and resources more efficiently? Being effective usually comes after our efforts at efficiency have failed.
Most of us would like to be both effective and efficient, though at times these are mutually exclusive. I remember it this way: Be efficient with things, be effective with people. We can be efficient in tasks such as making things or completing a project. We can not always be efficient with people because it takes time to build effective relationships and to communicate with understanding.
There is the story about a manager who wanted to be efficient, so he scheduled his daily tasks and allowed 15 minutes to terminate an employee. An hour later he is still talking with the employee. In striving for efficiency, he did not take the time to be effective.
Raising children is another effort where effectiveness is more important than efficiency. It takes much time and energy to be effective with our children, and if we don’t make the effort to be effective in teaching them to make better choices, we can expect to lose much efficiency with them as they mature.
On the other hand, we can be efficient with things. Running errands, making a schedule, housecleaning, cooking and other tasks are often planned and carried out on time. Various processes, procedures and work can be done in a efficient way.
Be efficient with things, be effective with people.
Think of times you have tried to be efficient, but were ineffective. How might you have been more effective?