It’s time to tell you about a book I read:

The Book: The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less by Tanya Dalton

The quote I found interesting: Unfortunetly, when people focus on being efficient, the resource they target is time. We fail to recognize that being efficient is about getting things done; being effective is getting what’s important done. There’s a big difference

Further clarified in book as follows:

Deadline focusedgoal focused
thinking of the presentthinking of the future
doing more in less timedoing more quality work
The Joy of Missing Out- Tanya Dalton

Do you do things effectively or efficiently?

I was recently talking to a friend and I stated that I am very organized but not really clean. As the two are synonomous to him, he asked me to clarify. I explained that everything in my bathroom that I own or use is very organized. I further stated that I sort of phone it in when it comes to scrubbing the tub.

I am effective at organizing the bathroom because I know where everything is, I know when I’m running out of something, and things are in the manner I prefer. It works seemlesly. It did take more time than haphazardly tossing my things around.

I clean the tub efficiently- I set a timer and do as much as I can in that framework. I don’t really care if you can eat off the tub- but that it’s just clean enough.

Is there a problem with how I do these things? Everyone except my Mother in Law is allowed to answer…

Are there areas of your life that it’s better to be efficient? How about effective?

I admit that I have probably leaned more towards efficient than effective- working hard vs. working smart is how I refer to it. I’d never really thought about the downsides of being efficient until I read this book, and I’m still not 100% sure that efficient isn’t the way to go. Most of the time.

There are clearly areas that I want to pay more attention to- areas where quality is tantamount. But I don’t seek perfection on the day to day. I would never blog if I was trying to be perfect.


So my blogging habit is one of quiet efficiency. I schedule a time to write, and I write. By no means is this the best work I could do. After I’ve published a post I think of a thousand other ways I could have written the post.

However, this efficient behavior works for me in regards to blogging.

Cooking meals every day? Efficient.

Cleaning? Efficient.

Making sure I do the things I love? Effective.

I take the time with people I love and with things I love- I prefer being effective in my personal life because after all, isn’t that what makes life worth living?

Where do you fall on the effective/efficient scale? Do you tip in one direction over the other? Or are you balanced in the middle?

Going by the definitions that Dalton laid out, which things do you think benefit from efficeincy and which ones from effectiveness?

You may begin:

67 thoughts on “Effiicient or Effective

  1. I think the efficient takes up too much time in my life, with the day job and then chores when I get home. Not enough time for the effective. My Sunday is my one day that I spend more time on it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Are there enough hours in the day to live all things effective? Besides if effective is based on long-term thought, goals, and quality I’m not sure small tasks even fall into those categories. In my opinion, Ms. Dalton appears to simply be attempting to find new labels (using alliteration) to discuss what we all do everyday: work small jobs into the larger and more focused needs…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course there’s a bit of reinventing the wheel here, but I thought it was interesting as a time management exercise to figure out where our time goes. She gives an example in the book where she says the boss asks for something by 4pm, and the efficient person gets in done by 4, but an effective person would realize that it’s going to take longer to do a great job- and I could think of 0 jobs I’ve held where the boss would be ok with rearranging the due date unless there was a really really good reason

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I commented on another blog about the lack of appreciation for this distinction being one of the reasons I quit my last and final job. They were all about the short term comparative numbers and couldn’t be convinced to take the additional time and broader perspective to make it better and also probably more efficient and effective for everyone in the long run.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I like the idea of efficient versus effective because it does remind us to think big picture. Kind of like using busy work as a form of procrastination from doing larger, big brain work. Great discussion topic!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I suppose their might be a continuum between those two things, but I’m not completely convinced. Your comments and others that separate necessary chores from things we do for other reasons makes sense. I go by the mantra that things worth doing are worth doing well. I am not efficient at blog writing. I spend a ton of time on each piece, editing many times. It’s taken me four years to write my first manuscript and it will still undergo further revision. I want it to be effective.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting thoughts. You also appropriately include perfectionism in the mix. In some things I think you have to be efficient to be effective, but not always. For example, with young children I always prefer the exploratory, smell the roses approach to learning. Sometimes, however, you have to take time out to drill and memorize freeing your brain up to problem solve and create.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perfectionism can really stop people from being efficient, effective to just plain getting things done. With kids…yeah…you want them to have imagination and think and be creative…however those times tables still should be memorized


  6. Well, I’m throwing it ALL out the window. Why you say? Because I have cancer and NONE OF THAT MATTERS ANYMORE! We spend out entire lives worrying about the wrong stuff! We get caught up on lists, on plans and not about living and cherishing life. So I now I guess I combine both categories and really focus only on what’s necessary. When you get sick you do have to think about the future. You cannot leave things to chance. Now I’m not a particularly organized person but luckily I had an epiphany before my 70th birthday. I planned for my funeral. I didn’t want my children to deal with anything. My parents did that in their 70’s and everything was taken care of so my brother, sister, and I didn’t have to worry about anything. So, approaching a new decade I wrote poems, decided to be creative, and planned for two years of my grandchildren’s college expenses, and for my forever condo. (Burial stuff).. Thank goodness I did plan ahead. So the future is indeed important.

    My house is rather unorganized these days. Who gives a flying fig? Who cares? None of that matters anyway . Imagine having cancer and going through surgery and chemo during a pandemic. You see life very differently. Nothing has to be perfect any more. You cherish life if the sun is shining. You laugh more and you cry more. And who cares if you fold your towels? It’s not important any more. Which is a good thing because some days you feel so crummy that you’re too sick to clean. You stop worrying about your looks when you lose your hair. The only efficiency or effectiveness that is needed is survival! Nothing else matters. So. I’m telling you it’s all bull…

    Yep, I realized I had to throw it all out the window. I’m telling you all to Just do what makes your life worthwhile for you. There’s no right or wrong way to live your best life. Other than surviving and not getting caught up in all the nonsense. Cherish every moment. Embrace it all or none of it. Just be kind to one another. Nothing else matters. Peace and love y’all. ❤️✌️

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I liken your cancer patient’s attitude to what I call one of the many benefits of aging. Essentially in both cases you have more life behind you than in front of you and use the appreciation of that simple fact to allow yourself to do what you want to do. On the flip side of the same token, you also allow yourself to not do what you don’t want to do.

      I know from reading your comments on this blog that you are a fascinating and wise woman who has lived a very broad and often challenging life. I hope you overcome this cancer challenge.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Hi nbsuefred. Hmmm, you know until I read this comment I never thought about having more life behind me than in front of me. Not really. Yes, I know my age, yes I’m aware I have cancer, but I never felt really old. I’ve always been a young spirit. Perhaps an old soul but young at year. I think it’s part of my generation. Going to college in the late 60’s, being apart of an exciting time in music, in the women’s movement, in politics etc. I always felt during my protest days that I was always apart of new things every day. Thank you for your kind comments. I thing most women over 60 are fascinating. We’ve evolved and absorbed a lot in this world.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Very interesting distinction. I love what you saying about not blogging if your goal was perfection and this line especially: “After I’ve published a post I think of a thousand other ways I could have written the post.” Me too! So glad I’m not the only one!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m going to save time and effort by not bothering to do more than skim read this post and then give a short answer. Books like this steal both the time and joy from your life. Let natural immunity take over from ultimate cleanliness, embrace imperfection and don’t read these books unless you aim to grow rich by imitating them.

    Now, with all that time I have saved I am going to cook and then write poetry. The world needs poetry, it doesn’t need even more cleaning products pouring down drains.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I don’t like the word choice, not that you asked, but efficient works for me, effective needs to be refurbished. Maybe focused, targeted, ambitious? I also think they blend, as in spend 5 minutes day advancing your goals and the rest of the day actually living! I’ve been out of town LA and I’ve missed your words…C

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have met very few people who actually live in the moment. I do know a lot if people who don’t like planning and end up sitting at home all the time. But it all depends of what your expectations are


      1. Most of the people I know live in the moment. Neighbours and friends just drop in, you have a coffee with someone you just bumped into at the supermarket, and if the sun is shining you get out and enjoy, bugger the state of the house. Maybe it’s because despite being in a city there are large open spaces and we are bounded by the coast and surrounded by bushland. We’re not so confined?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know mostly people in cities and suburbs…none spontaneous. My friend who lives rural is least so Randie’s of all. I guess in nyc, you usually need tickets or to get someplace at a certain time…spontaneous to me is planning something the day before. Like, I knew I was taking a drawing class today at the botanic garden…last night my daughter said she’s meet me after to go to museum next door to garden. But we had to buy timed tickets in advance for the exhibit…I think it’s the too many people thing

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Just one of many examples of why I love reading your blog….living in the gray. Alright. They are both needed and necessary….and, they actually go together quite well, when we are able to actually create both. The issue? Some people are not able to stretch, or, better language is, it is much harder for them to stretch into effectiveness for example because they’ve been habituated to a particular way of doing things. I consider myself both effective and efficient. Yet, as you write above, it depends on the context.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I agree with you efficient in cleaning, doesn’t mean my dusting passes the white glove test! I would rather spend more quality time working on what really is important, like relationships and doing the things I like to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m not sure they’re mutually exclusive. Can’t you be both? I say that, even though it was something I fought all the time at work. It was more a quantity vs quality thing. I felt we were always sacrificing quality just to get it done. I try to be very efficient and effective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can totally be both…but it comes down to which things should be done efficiently and which effectively. There are few circumstances where I don’t think efficiency rules


  13. This is why I accomplish NOTHING (tub included).

    I’m reading your blog, listening to Matt’s share of a new-to-me Pink Floyd song, and trying to read other people’s comments. I love every bit of this.

    I feel so seen in this post. LA, we really are kindred souls. I like a tidy home, but I dial it in when it comes to scrubbing the tub. PSST, I can’t recall the last time I scrubbed my tub, and if I did? I did not put elbow grease into it.
    WHEW. That felt GOOD.
    But making sure I’m doing the things I love to do? EFFECTIVE.
    You nailed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. That was interesting LA and sounds like a good book. I’ll have to ponder it a bit more…..but I think I tend to be more efficient…..but I would like to be more effective!

    Liked by 1 person

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