Effective: “stresses the actual production of or the power to produce an effect.”
Efficient: “suggests an acting or a potential for action or use in such a way as to avoid loss or waste of energy in effecting, producing, or functioning.”
Effective is doing the right things. Efficient is doing the things right.
If you don’t do the right things, but do them very well, you still are not moving toward the result you want. If you do the right things, but execute them poorly, you will end up expending more energy and thought than necessary, leaving less energy for other tasks.
Best Of Both
The key to productivity is really doing the right things, and doing them efficiently. Most productivity systems that show huge improvement in people’s outputs are focused on their efficiency. Getting to the right things is much more tricky.
Every early productivity system addressed efficiency. More modern ones are addressing effectiveness. Are they any more successful? It’s hard to say. You can measure efficiency. You can’t measure effectiveness across a whole spectrum of people; the criteria change.
I am beginning to wonder if any system can handle the effectiveness question, because it really is truly personal.