What is efficiency

Increase efficiency: 5 + 11 tips for more efficient work

Efficiency is an important corporate goal. In everyday life, too, whether you work efficiently or not has an impact on your success. One problem: In common parlance, efficiency and effectiveness are often used synonymously. We use examples to explain what the difference between efficiency and effectiveness is. We also give you numerous tips for more efficient work ...

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Difference between efficiency and effectiveness

In Duden, efficiency is translated as “effectiveness” or “economy”. The description leads to a common misunderstanding. Because effectiveness is also effective and usually economical. But there are differences:

  • effectiveness (English: "effectiveness")
    is the measure for target achievement. It shows how close the achieved result comes to the desired goal. Here one speaks of the effectiveness of a measure. The central question: WHAT has to be done?
  • Efficiency (English: "efficiency")
    describes the relationship between input and output. It's about the result in relation to the effort. So it is used about the profitability of the resources. The key question: HOW does something have to be done?

The economist Peter Drucker once defined the difference as follows: “Effectiveness means doing the right things. Efficiency, on the other hand, means doing things right. "

Definition: what is efficiency?

Efficiency is a criterion with which we evaluate a measure or an instrument. We assess whether something is suitable for achieving a goal in the most time-saving, gentle or productive ("economic") way possible. However, efficiency is not necessarily the measure of all things. Drucker also coined the phrase: "There is no greater waste than doing something efficiently, which it would be better not to do at all." Therefore, real efficiency also includes a prior analysis of whether a job is actually necessary or not.

Examples: Acting efficiently or effectively?

The following examples illustrate the difference:

1. Example from everyday life

You need to mow the lawn in the garden.

  • Effectiveness: You use scissors for this. This will at least bring you closer to your goal as you are shortening the lawn.
  • Efficiency: In contrast to the scissors, the lawn mower is much more efficient. You need less time and effort.

2. Example from everyday university life

You want to write your bachelor thesis.

  • Effectiveness: You pick up pen and paper and write a handwritten report.
  • Efficiency: Instead, write your thesis on the computer. Errors can be corrected directly, you achieve better readability and can effortlessly restructure paragraphs or chapters afterwards.

3. Example from everyday working life

You need to convey important content to your team. For this you give a presentation.

  • Effectiveness: You work out all possible secondary scenes on a given topic. In order not to forget any of this, read your paper word for word. Your audience will likely fall asleep while doing this.
  • Efficiency: It is more effective to limit yourself to the important details of a topic. You practice the presentation beforehand so that you can speak freely and maintain eye contact. This increases the likelihood that your audience will take content away from the presentation.

Formula for efficiency and effectiveness

For an economical and resource-saving path, you need to compare alternatives and options. This is the only way you can set the priorities accordingly and make a meaningful decision. To take the example of the lawnmower, you show efficiency in terms of time and effort when you use the lawnmower on your lawn. However, it costs money - in the form of electricity, gasoline and repairs. It is not efficient on these points. A method can only be selected after weighing and prioritizing various factors.

The formula for efficiency or effectiveness can help to visualize the difference and to better understand it. These put the result in relation to the most important other variable - namely the goal to be achieved (for effectiveness) and the effort used for efficiency. In this way, both efficiency and effectiveness can be calculated ...

5 + 11 tips on how to increase your efficiency

It happens that at the end of the day the to-do list has not been processed. Optionally, it is way too full. It is possible that the work was not carried out efficiently. However, increasing efficiency does not mean that more work has to be done. Efficiency is not about the length of working hours. Rather, it is about making the best possible use of the time available. For example with these tips:

  • Specify goals
    Often there is a lack of efficiency because someone wastes time and energy in the wrong places. In order to be able to work efficiently, you need to know exactly which goals you want to achieve and which framework conditions are relevant for them. The more informed you are, the easier it is for you to avoid unnecessary tasks and waste of time.
  • Control emotions
    Anger starts in your own head. And quite often it just asks us to make a decision as to whether or not to let the anger out. It is known from research that which side of the medal we give our attention and energy to has enormous effects on our job and our performance. And those who are in a bad mood procrastinate more easily. More efficiency is therefore also a matter of attitude.
  • Clarify tasks
    Above all, efficiency means sorting out. Many are familiar with the inbox exercise from the assessment center. Ultimately, it is based on the Eisenhower principle. To do this, divide tasks into the following areas: important / unimportant, urgent / not urgent. So you decide in advance what you should tackle, delegate or immediately forget.
  • shorten the time
    Many tend to make full use of the time available. So they get ready at the last minute. It has little to do with efficiency. Instead, set shorter time limits for completing your tasks. You will see that it works anyway. You will procrastinate less, work more efficiently and in the end do more. For this to work, the deadline has to remain realistic. You cannot limit a project that takes at least two hours to 20 minutes. That only leads to chaos and frustration.
  • Schedule emails
    Reading your e-mails first thing in the morning can put you in a bad mood. You are also wasting the best of time working efficiently. Regardless of the chronotype, the best times for solving problems or being creative in other ways are between 10 a.m. and 12 noon. Anyone who gets lost in the small and small things of the inbox, the replies and the email distribution list, is already exhausted when he should actually be in top form.

Even more efficient: 11 more tips as PDF

Do you want to become even more efficient? Then we have 11 more tips ready for you as a free download (PDF). Simply click on the button below:

11 tips for more efficiency

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November 16, 2020Author: Nils Warkentin

Nils Warkentin studied business administration at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen. In the career bible, he is devoted to topics related to studies, career entry and everyday office life.

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