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The difference between efficiency and effectiveness

Chase Damiano
13 min read
The difference between efficiency and effectiveness

What I hear consistently from founders, managers and even individual contributors is that they don’t have enough time.

  • “I want to work on the business, but I don’t have time.”
  • “I want to teach my team how to do this differently, but I’m stuck with customer issues.”
  • “I want to clarify our priorities, but I’m busy with sales.
  • “I want to build a process for this, but I’m too busy doing the work.”

There are too many fires to put out and they have only one tool in their toolbox, which is essentially to execute the thing right in front of them.

I get it! That was my only tool for a long time too.

As a COO, my primary concern was finding ways to execute more quickly. I was thinking of productivity. “How do I get more done in less time?” My whole mindset was around efficiency, better resource allocation, and finding ways to move more quickly. So, I would create better to-do lists, install new project management software, and build new systems and tools for my team to execute better.

But none of this solved what I was experiencing. I was burning out.

I was always stuck needing to execute something to move the business forward. So much execution relied on me that I couldn’t take any time off. I couldn’t take weekends off.

I would consistently wake up between 2 -3 am with new ideas, new to-do items, and filled with energy. I would often execute them right then.

Needless to say, my energy was drained every day. Eventually, I hit a wall.

I knew it was time for me to stop focusing on doing things quicker and start changing my approach on execution.

Here’s what I discovered.

First, design your work week with intention and second, create a strategy to get there.

I discovered this after studying tactics on time management, optimizing for energy, the impact of quality sleep and insights on motivation and habit formation.

The big idea here is that, without a vision for the end goal (a.k.a. your intention for how you want to live your life), it’s nearly impossible to create a better strategy to help you get there.

So, the default becomes a strategy built on efficiency, as opposed to a strategy built on effectiveness.

  • Efficiency is all about doing things faster, using less resources to get the same outcome, and generally doing more with less.
  • Effectiveness is more about making choices, with the big picture in mind, that lead to the decisions that transform and elevate the entire company.

By first designing a workweek with intention, the problems I was solving became,

  • “What type of relationship do I want to have with my work?
  • “What do I want my relationship with my partner, my son, my family and friends to look like?”
  • “What kind of life do I want for myself?”
  • “What types of things do I want to focus on versus not focus on?”

Once I laid this foundation, the strategy appeared. I was able to create a way to be fully present in my company and be present in my life.

I took everything I learned from research and my own experimentation to create the Ideal Workday Planner, an intentional lens for designing your work and your life the way you want to live it. This tool allows you to first design your ideal workday and workweek, and then determine the blocks of time when you are available for work-related activities.

The framework allows you to consider how you would live your life if it were completely unencumbered and you had complete control of your time.

It prompts you to think about…

  • exactly how would you want to spend your time?
  • what would each hour of the day look like?
  • how much time would you spend in deep work?
  • how much time would you spend building relationships?
  • how much time would you sleep and take deep rest?

When you’re intentional about how you spend your day, you can:

  • devise ways to get the same amount of work done (without you doing all of it).
  • see the processes or structures that need to be implemented so you don’t have to do it.
  • cultivate stronger relationships both inside and outside of work.
  • more deeply sit in the seat of leadership instead of tactical day-to-day execution.

Using this framework, I’ve supported founders and managers to design their ideal workday and help them teach this to their teams.

We consistently hear feedback that this tool has helped leaders grow their revenue, focus on high priority items, delegate more, and build morale across the team.

Because lack of time is the #1 issue I hear founders and managers struggle with, I want to share the Ideal Workday Planner with you. You can download this framework plus examples of how other leaders structure their week at the link below.

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    P.S. Need support on this? Feel free to ask me a question. I’d love to hear from you!

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