Productivity and Efficiency: What matters more?

Productivity and Efficiency: What matters more?

Productivity and Efficiency are being highly regarded in any Business. Employers even determine an employee’s feedback based on these factors. While these two look quite similar to each other, they are different in their own ways. They are like sides of a coin and most often compete with each other. Here’s a deeper insight into how they both differ from each other and how to decide which one is important.

The Secret of getting ahead is getting started.

Mark Twain

What is Productivity?

Productivity is the rate at which work is done or the quantity of work being done at a particular time. For a company, being highly productive is closely linked to the ability to make more products. For a school, higher productivity may be to train more students. Productivity revolves around getting an increase in the output. The more the actual work being done in a particular amount of time, the more productive it is.

At a workplace, if an employee A completes 15 projects and employee B completes 12 projects in a month, then employee A is more productive than B. Even if employee B handles bigger projects, the quantity takes the priority here.

What is Efficiency?

Efficiency is the comparison between the time required to accomplish a task and a particular standard in an industry or business. Simply put, it means to compare the actual hours required, to the hours it usually takes to complete it.

Efficiency is more about getting an increase in the output while expending a lesser amount of resources. The quality of work that you do takes more priority than the other resources such as number of people etc.

At a company, if 5 employees finish a certain work in 2 days and 3 employees finish that work in 1 day, then the 3 employees are more efficient than the former.

Efficiency may sometimes be more desirable than productivity depending on the circumstances. As it stands, both productivity and efficiency are an important part of any business.

Why do Productivity and Efficiency compete with each other?

Many people find it hard to distinguish Productivity and Efficiency. In fact, they are confusing at first glance. People want to be as productive as possible but they lose out on being efficient at the same time.

At most times, productivity can come at the expense of efficiency. And Efficiency can come at the expense of productivity. But this doesn’t imply that you have to give up on one thing to achieve the other.

Efficiency tasks, require more diligent work and sometimes take more time than anticipated. Hence, the quality of work produced is high. Since it takes more time, it can sometimes be counterproductive as you lose the extra time you could spend on something more productive.

Productive tasks, on the other hand, require you to complete as many tasks as possible without focusing too much on the quality. Since you focus on the quantity more, the result can sometimes have quality issues.

Productivity and Efficiency - Hang on Life

The Right Balance between being Productivity and Efficiency

If one element opposes the other, how is it possible to achieve the right balance between the two?

While not everyone can master this, the balance between productivity and efficiency can be achieved if you follow these steps diligently:

  • Analyze the time needed: Analyze the work to be done and evaluate the amount of effort needed to be put in. This is a crucial part as it can eliminate any unexpected outcomes such as spending too much time on a specific task etc.
  • Organize the things to be done: This step can be overlooked most of the time. Every work requires proper planning and organizing to get things in order, to make it streamlined.
  • Give your full potential: Always give your full potential no matter what the task is at hand. If you put your full effort into doing something, that leaves it less space for you to commit any errors and lose out on quality.
  • Don’t spend too much time overdoing: While you have to give your maximum effort, it is really easy to get carried away and spend up too much time doing unwanted corrections to make it better.
  • Find the Flow state: If you love what you are doing, it sets you up for something great and ultimately lets you reach the flow state.

Getting a balance between Productivity and Efficiency isn’t hard if you have a clear vision and know the amount of effort required to get there.

Misconceptions about being productive:

There are some common misconceptions about being productive. Some people think that having a lot of work to do makes them productive. Being productive means to work towards a goal that you have. It means to live up to your expectations and do the work you are supposed to do to get you closer to your dreams.

Things that you do otherwise are only there to keep you “busy”. Productive people have only a small amount of things on their To-Do lists. The other activities such as daily chores are only meant to fuel you to do productive tasks.

Setting realistic goals and deadlines for them will help you be more productive. This will ultimately lead you to freedom and success.

Questions to find out the difference

If you are struggling to find the difference between being productive and efficient, then ask yourself these questions. This may help you rule out and identify what you need to work on.

  • Do you set priorities for the tasks?
  • Are you limiting your effectiveness?
  • Does the work that I do bring me closer to my goals?
  • Are you just busy or being truly productive?
  • Are you satisfied with the work that you do?

If you can find the answers to these questions, then it will simplify the process to a great extent. You can identify whether you need to focus more or just excel at what you are doing.

The Productivity project is a great book to get started if you need to manage time better and get more useful things done.


Finding the perfect sweet spot between Productivity and Efficiency is vital to anyone. It helps you master the art of giving your full effort with a clear focus on what needs to be done. It’s a perfect combination that most people overlook sometimes. I hope this helps you become a better person at managing your goals and work towards it.

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