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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...”

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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.”

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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.



Comments

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?

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Posted by Dan Vis on 11/21/22
Ha! I'm sure we've all been there at times Daniel. :)

The more you implement the LFS time management principles the more this switches toward the effectiveness side. Stay encouraged!
Posted by Daniel on 11/19/22
Yes, I experience this a lot. I may get some things done but how much have I learnt? Usually not a lot as i am always rushing. Not good.
Posted by Dan Vis on 11/07/22
:)
Posted by Wayne Senner on 11/07/22
Your comment is really good. I pray the same for me. Mike
Posted by Dan Vis on 11/01/22
We're often nudged that way because it tends to be how other people measure our performance Mike. But it's short-sighted on their part. We should really be evaluating people on what they can accomplish. Not on fast the rush around. I'm thankful God looks at things from a much more profound perspective...

Nice testimony Sam, that the only way we can really discern what is most effective in life, is through deep communion with heaven. Martin Luther is often quoted for saying the busier his day, the more prayer he needed. He know that busyness was the mortal enemy of effectiveness...
Posted by Shawnda McKnight on 11/01/22
I definitely remember just saying the same old prayers every time I prayed. Thinking I was getting somewhere bc at least I prayed, right? No.. It is more effective to speak from the heart when praying. I did an experiment in school where I wanted to increase my prayer life so I started timing how long I prayed. The longer my prayers got, the more I was pouring out my heart and during this experience is when I felt the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. After the experiment I got used to being down on my knees for long periods of time and thats when I truly felt a difference in life and I knew my prayer life was effective. I was on fire for God debating with my professors who told me I was in the wrong field if I believed in God.. I truly think that I planted a seed in one professor in particular.
Posted by Mike Carner on 10/31/22
I think too often I have focused on efficiency rather than effectiveness. My prayer is that I will see things in a balanced biblical perspective, understanding what is truly important, what is best.
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/30/22
Yes, cultural influences can creep into our spiritual life. Something to guard against! Glad that was helpful Tonya.
Posted by Tonya Anspach on 10/30/22
In my work efficiency is stressed. I can see how that bled into my everyday life as well. This lesson was a good one for me. It opened my eyes to what is really important. Effectiveness definitely needs to be first in my life.
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/29/22
That's a key point Heide. The only way really to achieve margin is to aim for effectiveness. Margin is by it's very nature inefficient but spiritually, it is absolutely essential.
Posted by Heide on 10/29/22
Good stuff here. I will be pursuing effectiveness, because I need more margin. Thanks for sharing these concepts.
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/29/22
"Without effectiveness, efficiency will actually be a waste of time." That's a keeper! Thanks Tamara. :)
Posted by Tamara Schoch on 10/29/22
Without effectiveness, efficiency will actually be a waste of time.
I love being efficient, but if it is not accomplishing the needed results, something is really wrong.
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/27/22
Thank you Barbara!
Posted by Barbara E. LaRose on 10/27/22
Wow, great post and I went down and read all the wonderful things others posted and it helped me to understand more of what efficiency and effectiveness means.   
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/25/22
That's a great way to relate these two concepts Doug. Effectiveness first, efficiency second. Absolutely has to be that way!

And I appreciate your point Louise, that the key to effectiveness is purpose--more clearly discerning God's will... Good post!
Posted by Louise P on 10/25/22
I would like to think my focus is more effectiveness than efficiency, but the reality is probably the other way round! However, greater awareness of the value of time while discerning God’s will for my life is making me rethink many of my habits. Jeremiah 29:11-1311 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.!
Posted by Doug Schoch on 10/24/22
Excellent. Focus on the important things and work to doing it efficiently.
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,
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.
Blessings,
Valerie
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 Fastmissions.com 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.

Thank-you,
Carole
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.

Thanks!
Anita
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! :)


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