Back to the Bible...
Login Join Now

Effectiveness vs Efficiency

By Dan Vis
April 18, 2022
Comments: 64

This week, we continue our series on the basic spokes of discipleship with an emphasis on personal obedience, andmore specifically: time management. This week's memo outlines the difference between effectiveness and efficiency--and which is more important...

One of the biggest problems faced by modern believers is the time pressures of modern life. Many find it difficult to keep up with their day-to-day responsibilities, and throwing in time for regular study, prayer, church life, family, and ministry can seem impossible. Yet these are all important to a thriving Christian experience. How does one juggle it all?

There are two basic approaches to time management: one aimed at increasing efficiency, and the other at improving effectiveness. Both have their place--but one is definitely more important than the other.

“There are two basic approaches to time management: increasing efficiency and improving effectiveness. One is definitely more important than the other...”

Click to Tweet

What's The Difference?

The words "efficiency" and "effectiveness" are often tossed around without much thought as to their meaning, but they refer to entirely different things.

Efficiency is a measure of how well things get done. It generally measures how much is accomplished in relation to the cost in terms of time, money or effort required. To accomplish a task in 30 minutes rather than 40 means you are using your time more efficiently. Buying some product for $4 instead of $5, means you are using your money more efficiently.

Effectiveness, on the other hand, is an assessment of how well some action accomplishes important goals and priorities. It's not primarily a question of how long a task took, but whether that task furthered your objective. It's not primarily a question of how much something cost, but whether that purchase helped you reach your desired goal.

Time management gurus have summarized it this way: efficiency is doing things right, while effectiveness is doing the right thing!

Efficiency is easier to measure, because it does not require one to make any kind of value judgment. As a result, many time management solutions focus on improving efficiency. Efficiency experts offer tips for speeding through more emails. Processing more paper work. Knocking out more tasks. They attempt to squeeze more into every moment, dollar, action. The unspoken assumption is, our ability to get more done will somehow relieve our time pressures.

The problem is, it doesn't work. Efficiency can't really solve our time pressures. Why? Because there will always be more to do. No matter how efficiently we race around, we will never get everything done. An unbalanced effort to work harder and faster will only leave you exhausted, frustrated, and stressed--with no finish line in sight. What really gets squeezed, is you!

“An unbalanced effort to work harder and faster will only leave you exhausted, frustrated, and stressed--with no finish line in sight.”

Click to Tweet

Effectiveness forces us to ask harder questions. What are my true goals and priorities? What's most important to do right now? How much is this task going to help me get there? Effectiveness can only be measured against clearly articulated objectives.

Rather than trying to squeeze more in, effectiveness seeks to trim more out. Through delegation, simplification, automation, and other processes, effectiveness calls you to focus on doing what is most important, first. It calls us to maximize the impact of our choices by saying no to everything of lesser value. Having the judgment to "approve things that are excellent" (Philippians 1:10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.), rather than merely good, helps us to create margin in our life--making it possible to catch up on life at last. Our metric is not how much we do, but how much good our actions create. We give our time to what is most important.

The Bottom Line

Efficiency is important, as it can free up time for priority tasks. But the real focus of time management should be to concentrate on discerning God's will for our life, and then trimming out anything that interferes with that purpose. As we bring our actions into harmony with God's plans for us, we will find his yoke is easy, and his burden is light (Matthew 11:28-3028 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.). We will be able to retake control of our life, and experience the satisfaction of knowing we have invested the limited amount of time given to us, in what counts most.

As a believer, I urge you to put effectiveness first.


What are your thoughts? Do you focus more on effectiveness or efficiency? What part does each play in good time management? Which is more important? Can you think of times you sacrificed one for the other?

Can you help by sharing this article with a friend?
Use this link:
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/22/22
I'm glad this helped clarify some things for you Ethel-Terra Jacks. Efficiency has it's place--no one wants to be wasteful with time or money. But all the efficiency in the world won't make up for working on the wrong things. Having both is better still!
Posted by Ethel-Terra Jacks on 04/21/22
Effectiveness by all means is my thing. I am intrinsically the type of person who loves to do the right thing. I am not as efficient when it comes to doing things fast,, accomplishing more in less time..For me doing the right thing takes quality time and diligent effort. This piece has truly centred me in seeking to do what is right by God and that means His will inadvertently, that can't be a wrong thing. Hence effectiveness is God's choice for all His children. I enjoyed reading the piece and have downloaded it for future reference. Very well written and extremely helpful. Untill I read this I didn't have a name for my preferred category; effectiveness. I kind of new I wasn't at all efficient when it came to academic exploits,but I was whole heartedly confident of my effectiveness. Praise God ,I am efficient in purchases, so am the type that will seek out prices before settling on the cheapest but valuable. This market research takes time and hence am been effective. I have enjoyed reading and sharing my thoughts.
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/18/22
Amen Susan, that's a great thought. Seeking first the kingdom of God is indeed all about prioritization. And trusting in God's provision frees us to make choices to focus on advancing His kingdom, and cause.

I love a statement I've read that Jesus was never hurried or rushed, never early or late, etc. No wasted movement of course either (efficiency), but the real mark of His life was His world changing impact (effectiveness). That should be our goal too. Good comment!
Posted by Susan Landess on 04/18/22
I think of the verse to "Seek first the kingdom of God.." Matthew 6:33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
We farm for a living. One year I was impressed to pray that prayer each morning--a prayer I think was aimed at effectiveness. It was such a mental release to start my day with the knowledge that all was placed in His hands. The striving did not have to be for material gain that day--God would take care of that!   
Posted by Dan Vis on 12/09/19
I'm sure many of us have overextended ourselves at times in the past Valerie. :) But like you say, God's grace is continually working in our lives, if we let it, to fine tune our lives into better balance. :) Thanks for the reminder about what really counts!
Posted by Valerie Wise Burrell on 12/09/19
Laurie, " just say no" is my goal. I have run my life from the perspective that I can do it "all". Then I find myself in a "pickle".
Through the FAST program and overall, the grace of God, I am taking time to assess my resources better: time, energy, money, etc.,.   At the end of the day, only what's done for Christ really matters.
Posted by Dan Vis on 12/09/19
Glad this made sense Erica! You are very welcome.

That's a good list there Laurie. Thanks for highlighting it. So many of us are overloaded with responsibilities. These are pretty much the only ways to process them responsibly...
Posted by Laurie Wissink on 12/09/19
Delegate, simplify, automate, and just say "No." ☺ Focus on those things that are excellent.
These are good tips! Thanks Dan!
Posted by Erica Cameron on 12/09/19
Yes, I agree, Dan. Thanks. Erica
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/23/18
We're all in this together! :)
Posted by Musa Sibisi on 05/23/18
Dan true, I have learned to focus more on effectiveness. We need to do the right things,to focus on objectives. It is true that will help us reach our destination.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/18/18
Hi Musa Sibisi! Great to see you. True indeed, effectiveness beats efficiency!
Posted by Musa Sibisi on 05/17/18
Thanks, Dan this true. I go with effectiveness
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/06/18
Maybe another way of thinking about it Qing, is efficient looks at what (the letter of the law) while effective looks at why (the spirit of the law). Anyway, probably worth a bit more reflection. And I'm with you on liking fruit more than veggies...
Posted by Qing Ling on 04/21/18
i agree with you Shanthi that it's about rest from fruitless labour.
Psalms 127:1Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. spoke strongly to me with the way i used to lose sleep due to excess work/tasks that i would busy myself with. i was the watchman that waketh but in vain. so my personal commitment in 2018 has been to listen for God's direction so that i would discern which fruitless work i should be ceasing and which God-directed passions I should pursue.
Konni said it well - "cut out the good to strive for the excellent".
a bit of a harsh statement, but really... if i fill my tummy with fruit, i won't have any space for the much needed vegetables! not a great analogy, but you get the idea.

Dan your comment about liking what Dan posted... can maybe be simplified like this:
efficient = task oriented-literal black and white letter of the law
effective = goal oriented-principle of the law
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/19/18
Very interesting thought Shanthi! Have not heard it quite put that way before.
Posted by Shanthi Solomon on 04/19/18
I have been meditating on the verses and learned that Jesus rest is not cessation from all labor but cessation from unnecessary or fruitless labor. He however promises to labor with us by taking our burden I Peter 5:7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. and sharing His light and easy yoke with us.

I really love the way you have explained it Dixie. Effectiveness will certainly improve if I were to carry out my labor with Christ by my side, guiding and teaching me every step of the way.
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/18/18
You're very welcome Floride! If we're not careful we do exactly what you describe--get so busy we don't have time to really reflect on what's most important. But if we slow down a bit, we'll discover Christ's load is much better than the load we would otherwise put on ourself!

Thanks Dixie! I knew a farmer would come through for us! Some good insights too. :) I like the thought about it being the yoke (the connection) that is easy, and that we can learn better how to live by staying close to our elder (more experienced) brother.

The hard part is understanding why we are so often so hard on ourself! It reminds me again of the acronym for BUSY--and it fits in here well: Being Under Satan's Yoke. Unfortunately this describes the lives of many believers, doesn't it?
Posted by Floride Leonce on 04/17/18
Yuu’re right, Dan. I, personally, have so much going on: family, church, work, school, etc. that I rarely think about effectiveness. I rather try to squeeze things here and there without realizing that I’m the one being squeezed instead, like you pointed out. From now, I will aim for effectiveness and will apply Matthew 18:29-3029 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. by laying it all at Jesus’ feet and asking God to make me discern His will and choose to work on what’s priority.
Thank you so much, Dan!
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/17/18
So agree with your posts, everyone! Effectiveness does lead to impact (Carole). It is more in line with God's will for our life (Sally). And it is more fulfilling to all involved (Deanna).

I especially appreciated what you said Deanna about how God orchestrates things in amazing ways when we put our focus first on seeking Him (effectiveness) rather than just productivity (efficiency). Great post!
Posted by Dixie Mende on 04/17/18
This is in response to getting your mind around Matthew 11:28-3028 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.. I decided to memorize Matthew 11:28-3028 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. for that is the only way it makes a total picture of what Jesus was saying to a predominantly agricultural understanding people.   I was reminded by my farmer husband that maybe others today do not understand the farming concept of yoking two animals together. Here are just a few of the concepts. 1) Two animals, such as mules or oxen, yoked together could pull more of a burden than the total of the burdens each of them could pull alone. 2) An older experienced patient animal would be yoked with a younger inexperienced animal to teach it. 3) The younger animal would gain strength and endurance when working alongside of the older animal.

   Now if you read Matthew 11:28-3028 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. it says, “(28) Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest (29) Take my yolk upon you ,and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls, (30) For my yolk is easy and my burden is light.” These verses are now telling me that if I walk side by side with Jesus I will learn from Him. He is also gentle and teaches me from where I am in understanding. The verses are also telling me that the connection between us is easy and it will not hurt me. They also say He has a light burden and He is willing to have my heavy burden distributed over to Him so I can have rest from my load when I daily walk by Him.
Posted by Deanna Dekle on 04/17/18
Thank you Dan; well said! This decision has to be made frequently. I pray for guidance from God to have the wisdom from day to day and am awed by the way He orchestras things, supplies or rearranges events. I have learned that I can manage a lot of things-but one can get strung thin-when "going it alone" but slow down and listen and let God speak and direct the day-laying it all out there-well it really does become more than just done-it gets done in a manner that has more impact and relational meaning-more fulfilling to all involved. It "simply" put-simplifies the pressures and anxiety that one can experience when looking at a full day.
Posted by Sally Lam on 04/16/18
You’ve hit the nail on the head, Dan! Focusing on effectiveness will be more in line with doing God’s will and Kingdom goals. Good insight into these two words!
Posted by Carole Bliss on 04/16/18
Being more effective is most important. I have chosen efficiency all to often, and I see the importance of being effective. Seeking God's plans, is most important to me. Doing so, will make me more effective.
I want to have a greater impact on the lives of others. and know my God, in a deeper and richer way.Only then will I be effective.

Posted by Dan Vis on 04/16/18
Thanks Joyce for sharing those questions. Great to hear you have accomplished so much. (Hopefully Rocket had some part in that). But even more glad to see you going deeper and asking these kinds of questions. I find myself wrestling sometimes with Matthew 11:28-3028 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.. Something has to get rewired in my own brain in terms of those verses.

Love your examples Dan. I feel there's something there. Like you said, I can't directly match it up with these two words, but there seems to be some profound link involved just out of reach...

And thanks for the vote about the comments! I think it's growing on me...
Posted by Dan Pratt on 04/16/18
This article provided us again, with great information and ideas. This is not a direct parallel, but it seems that there is certainly some correlation between efficiency and the letter of the law and effectiveness and the spirit of the law. For instance, I can make a checklist that measures “I didn’t kill my kids today” or “I didn’t steal from my wife.” I can even check “I cleaned the kitchen and did the dishes so they wouldn’t have to,” but it’s much more difficult to measure "did I truly love them."

I’m voting, at least for now, to leave the comments this way—latest on top, earlier below.
Posted by Joyce Augustinis on 04/16/18
I am trying to work this problem of efficiency and effectiveness out right now. In the last few months I have been very efficient and accomplished 2-3 times more than I have ever done. However, I see the point of effectiveness and I am asking myself, how have the things I have done worked toward the goals I have set for myself this year? Are they helping or just making me tired? I need to take some time to think and put things in perspective.
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/16/18
Nice summary Margaret of the distinction between the two: squeezing more in verse trimming more out. That's a quotable! :)
Posted by Margaret Major on 04/16/18
Thank you, Dan. That has clarified this issue for me at last, much appreciated. Wise words, showing the subtle but important difference between effectiveness and efficiency. It has shown me where to put my energies and not feel guilty about all that stuff that is distracting me from fulfilling my God given goal. Not that being efficient isn't helpful but as you say we have to be selective and give time to what is most important. I confess that I used to try to squeeze more in, I now see effectiveness seeks to trim more out.
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/16/18
Great point Valerie. I think you are right about Mary and Martha illustrating the difference here. Martha was busy getting stuff done, but Mary was doing what counted most. There's a place for both, effectiveness is more important than efficiency.

We'll try it for a while Anita and see what the response is. My guess is people will be more likely to post, but less likely to read comments from the past. And sometimes there is as much or more value in the comments than in the article! I also personally find it a bit more awkward. Before I would just go to the page and hit ctrl-end and I'm instantly at the end of the recent comments. Now I have to manually scroll to the middle of the page to get to them.

So pro's and con's both ways... And thanks for sharing!
Posted by Anita Huffman on 04/16/18
Dan, Yes please keep the new comments at the top!!!

I learned from this message. Excellent. I shared it with my SS class. (I'm trying to get them interested in joining FAST). They all seemed to "get" it and appreciate it.

Posted by Dan Vis on 04/16/18
This is our first time to post (repost) a blog with the new comments on the top and the old comments on the bottom. Let me know what you think--along with your note about the topic of course! :)
Posted by Valerie Wise Burrell on 04/16/18
This is a good message. I believe that this is what Christ was teaching to Martha when she complained to Him that her sister was not helping. Luke 10:41-4241 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.. Martha was efficient but Mary was effective. The Lord confirms this point. I have often been very efficient and recall that I still felt overwhelmed, harried and incomplete. This thought helps me to stop to ask the right questions before going full speed ahead.
(There are about three posts with my picture and name that are not mine.)
Valerie Wise Burrell
Posted by Olu Osibo on 04/29/17
Just woke up, and was inspired to check in, and this came up Amazing content
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/28/17
Thanks for the input Christine! I need to reedit the article to include Musa's thought. It's a good one. :)

I'm look forward to the challenge to Jackie! Let's pray we have a great group and a great experience as we all learn together...
Posted by Jacqueline on 04/24/17
No internet at home will need to go to the library for internet. I am looking to life focus.
Posted by Christine Godfrey on 04/24/17
Just catching up, a tad behind this week. Thanks so much Dan for the understanding of efficiency and effectiveness. Its been very enlightening. I get stressed when I cant seem to fit everything in, so this understanding has been a great help in clarifying what I need to do. I really liked the summarisation "efficiency is doing things right while effectiveness is doing the right things", and what Musa said efficiency deals with quantity and effectiveness deals with quality. Really looking forward to Life Focus, something I really need.
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/23/17
A little over one week Jackie! Can't wait to release the Life Focus System to get here. Here's more info for anyone who wants to check it out.
Posted by Jacqueline on 04/22/17
Need to improve on time management and focus on what God wants for my life. Help each one of us to figure it all out.
Posted by Charity Funtanilla on 04/21/17
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/19/17
Will be here before you know it! :) Vicky
Posted by Vicky Lewis on 04/19/17
Looking forward to the Life Focus Challenge coming in May.
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/18/17
You are right, Stella Tigere, the older I get the more I appreciate the importance of focusing on what is most important.

Hi Rhonda! Always good to see you online!

Thanks again Lionel for an insightful post. Somehow we do need to shuffle our priorities, don't we?
Posted by Lionel on 04/17/17
During an 80 year life span, it is estimated that we spend: 7 years in the bathroom; 6 years eating; 5 years waiting in line; 4 years cleaning the house; 3 years in meetings; 2 years playing telephone tag 1 year searching for things; 8 months opening junk mail; and 6 months sitting at red lights.
During an average day, it is estimated that we will: spend half of it sleeping, eating, grooming, and commuting; be interrupted seventy-three times; take an hour’s worth of work home; spend less than five minutes reading; talk with your spouse for four minutes; exercise less than three minutes; and play with your child for two minutes or less."
Posted by Valerie de Fluiter on 04/17/17
Very much appreciated this insight. I want to spend my time being effective in God's cause not just dizzily spinning around my to do list and checking off boxes.
Posted by Carole Bliss on 04/17/17
I am trying to be more sensitive to be lead by God, as to what I should do
each day. Some days, things are not a matter of choice, meetings, and such. but when I feel its the Lord's leading, it has more meaning. My take away is
stick with what is most important, what would benefit others, as well as
taking care of our needed requirements.

Posted by Rhonda D. Coleman on 04/17/17
Pastor, thank you for this post. Time management impacts every area of our lives, and we need God's guidance to know how to prioritize even the so-called "good things" we do from day to day.
Posted by Stella Tigere on 04/17/17
Thank you for this wonderful post very encouraging especially as we grow old effectiveness is the only way to deal with the important statf. Realising God's purpose for one's life and effectively do it with all our senses.
Posted by Dan Vis on 04/17/17
Nice post Ann! I think part of the wisdom we gain as we get older is right along these lines. Reminds me of Psalms 90:12So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom..

Great insight Musa Sibisi about quality vs quantity. It's another way of looking at the same coin. Both are important, but in most situations quality has to come first.

Glad this was a blessing, Wendelina. Praise God for how he redeems the time, and is able to use us mightily at any point in our life. :)
Posted by Wendelina P Deligero on 04/17/17
Thank you Ptr Dan. This made a great impact in me. A good supplement in our FAST TRAINING. It reminds me at how much wasted time my life consisted. Praise God I could still spend what little time left in my life, to that which is most important. Discern His will and by His grace do it.

Join the Discussion!

Want to read more articles, or leave a comment of your own? Please login. Not yet a member? Why not join our community...


Our Site

About Us
Terms of Use
Privacy Policy
Help Hotline


Live Events
Study by Mail
Join Conference
ACT for Pastors
Training Centers

Get Involved

Book Speaker
Write for Us
Donate to FAST
Online Store

Copyright © FAST Missions. All rights reserved. Click here for sharing guidelines.