The struggle between efficient, effective

Monika Kristofferson

Are you striving to work efficiently or effectively in your business each day?

On the surface, efficient sounds great, right? Heck, I named my business Efficient Organization almost a decade ago. Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about what it means to work effectively and why it’s important. On a side note — I still love my business name.

When we work efficiently, we’re performing tasks without wasting time or effort. That doesn’t sound so bad. Here’s the thing, we can do pretty much anything efficiently without wasting time or effort. We can post comments on Facebook efficiently, we can read jokes efficiently and we can drink a cup of coffee just as easy as can be. When we choose to work effectively (yes, it’s a choice), we get important stuff done.

When we work effectively, we’re moving our businesses forward and getting the results we want. I think it’s safe to say if you’re working effectively, you’re going to leave your business or home office at the end of the day feeling accomplished.

Let’s look at two examples of what could happen for a business owner who needs to make money through appointments with clients.

Example 1: Working Efficiently

You sit down at your desk with a hot cup of coffee, ready to write out your ‘to do’ list and hit it hard on a Wednesday. You pull out a pad and pen and write out your list:

  • Research stats for a business article for local newspaper;
  • Write 900 word business article for local newspaper, due in one week;
  • Call five contacts who showed earlier interest;
  • Call five past clients to see if they would like to schedule a future appointment;
  • Update LinkedIn profile
  • Go to networking lunch meeting 12-1 p.m.

It’s now 9:10 a.m., you take a sip of your coffee, look over your list and fire up your computer.

First stop, email. Forty-five minutes later, you decide you should create a Facebook post for your business. Once you’re on Facebook, you stay for “just a minute” to read a few posts. A half an hour later, after reading posts and watching a few videos, it’s time to get a refill on that coffee. You really need to get some steps on your tracker since you’ll be sitting so much, so why not walk to the corner coffee stand.

You get back to your desk, ready to get serious. A quick look at the clock and you see it’s almost 11 a.m. You have 45 minutes until you need to leave for the networking meeting. You call one of the five contacts on your list and leave a voicemail and then respond to texts that have come in. Well, you better wrap things up and head to the meeting because you really need to drop off your dry cleaning on the way.

Things are getting done, but not the tasks that are critical, have a deadline or could produce income.

Example 2: Working Effectively

You sit down at your desk with a hot cup of coffee, ready to write out your ‘to do’ list and hit it hard on a Wednesday. You write the same to-do list. :

It’s now 9:10 a.m., you take a sip of your coffee, look over your list and fire up your computer and turn your phone volume off.

You set a timer for 30 minutes to research stats for the article you have to write. As you read, you jot down the information you need. When the timer goes off, you get out a piece of scratch paper to create a mind map for your article.

You set the timer for another 30 minutes and map out the sequence of your article.

It’s about 10:15 and you’re ready for another cup of coffee so you turn on the coffee pot in your office and a cup of java is ready in five minutes.

Now it’s time to get busy making those 10 phone calls to your contacts and past clients. You have well over an hour to make the calls before leaving for the lunch meeting.

You go down the list of calls to make, leaving voicemails as well as engaging in a few conversations. You check your email before heading to your lunch.

You can see the pattern that’s happening here. Tasks are getting crossed off your list and you’re scheduling paying clients. There’s a big difference isn’t there? Keep this adage in mind from now on:

“There’s no correlation between how long you sit at your desk and what you accomplish.”

It’s the truth.

Monika Kristofferson is a professional organizer and productivity consultant who owns Efficient Organization NW in Lake Stevens. Reach her at 425-220-8905 or

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