Being effective vs. Being efficient

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What is the difference between being effective vs. being efficient?

This is a question that seems to come up a lot; both in life and in fitness.

In this article I am going to take a global view and answer the question unencumbered from my vantage point.

We won’t be diving into specific strategies and tactics (yet). Instead, I want to give you the framework for determining effectiveness and efficiency for yourself, in any life endeavor (not just fitness related).

Without further ado…

Effective vs. Efficient

• Effective = Doing the right things
• Efficient = Doing things right

Is it possible to be effectively inefficient, and efficiently ineffective?


So, how do you prevent either scenario from happeneing?

First, you MUST get very clear on your goal.

What is you want to achieve?

If you aren’t crystal clear on your goal, you’ll end up wasting a lot of (time, energy, money, emotion…etc) and probably won’t have much to show for it.

Once you have your goal clearly in mind you should develop principles that support your goal.

What are principles, you ask?



“A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.” *

* Source: Dictionary(dot)com

Basically, you need principles to add context, and define actions that will help you move closer to your goal.

Once you have the goal in mind and principles in place which support action toward that goal, you are ready to assess the effectiveness and/or efficiency of what you are doing.

The Zoom Out/Zoom In Approach

One strategy that I like is the zoom out/zoom in approach.

How this works…

Periodically (daily, weekly, monthly…etc) “zoom out” and look at the 30,000 foot picture. The zoom out is the perfect time to ask yourself, “Are my efforts effectively and efficiently moving me closer to my goal?”

• If yes, continue on the current course.

• If no, re-evaluate where you’re spending your time and energy.

Either way, once you have looked at the big picture, you “zoom back in” and focus on the smaller action(s) you deem worthy of your time and effort. If necessary, make the adjustments you discovered during the zoom out. Then, get back to grinding.

The problem is that most of us get stuck in zoom in mode.

We don’t take the time to zoom out and look at the big picture as a whole. Then we scratch our heads and wonder why we haven’t made any progress toward our goal.

Wait. You did clearly define your goal, right?

Final thoughts

Just to recap being effective vs. efficient:

• Effective is doing the right things. 
• Efficient is doing things right.

However, before you start spending your time and energy somewhere, first make sure your goal is clearly defined.

Next, make sure you understand the principles that will keep you on the straight and narrow to making progress towards your goal.

Then, and only then, should you start to examine your actions under the lens of effectiveness and efficiency.

Related articles

• How to make bulletproof coffee
(hey, caffeine makes you more effective right?)

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