From Speed to Impact: Master the Delicate Balance Between Working Fast and Working Smart

While productivity and efficiency are often used interchangeably, they are actually two distinct concepts.

Let’s dive in!

The Definitions

First, the definitions from the Cambridge Dictionary:

“the quality of working well in an organised way without wasting time or energy.”

“the rate at which a person, company, or country does useful work”

What that means is:

Efficiency refers to doing something without wasting any time, energy, or materials. It is a measure of how effectively results are achieved, and it is often used to identify areas that can be improved.

If you are able to produce the same content in less time, you are more efficient.

Productivity refers to the output that is produced in a given period of time. It is a measure of how much work is done.

If you produce a large number of high-quality blog posts or videos in a short period of time, you are productive.

While related, they are not the same. One can be highly productive without being efficient, and vice versa.

The distinction lies in the art of doing things right (effective) and doing the right things (productive).

The Art of Doing Things Right

To ensure efficiency, focus on three aspects:

Precision and Quality

When you are working on a presentation for example, you want to make sure that you give attention to detail. To help prioritise quality, you can almost go through a checklist.

Make sure all the headlines/images/text are aligned and have the right distance to each other and within the page. Copyright years need to be updated, the headlines need to be in the same spot, same size/font etc.

Streamline Processes

To not spend too much time on this, streamline and optimise your workflows.

You can first collect all the research and images you want to use, assemble a rough outline, then fill it in.

Once you eliminated unnecessary steps, you will increase efficiency and not compromise the quality of your work.

Time Management and Resource Utilisation

You need to work on improving both. You want to make sure things get done in time and are done well.

When you are just starting out and doing tasks the first time, there is an efficiency tax to pay. This has to be paid so you can improve your workflows and find the right tools for the job. Once you have done this a few times, others will be amazed by how quickly you can deliver high quality work.

The Power of Doing the Right Things

You can be the most efficient person at work, if you do not focus on the right things, it is useless.

Let’s dive into how you can make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

Prioritise for Maximum Impact

Spend your valuable time on tasks that are of the greatest benefit to your overall goals. Optimise for maximum impact and be ruthless about what you work on.

If you decide to invest time on something, make sure you can leverage it in different ways. A presentation can be delivered to not only multiple customers, but also recorded, published and re-used for training others.

Align with your Long-Term Goals and Vision

You want to make sure that you focus on the right goals and are clear on your vision.

The daily challenge is then to ensure your daily activities contribute to these goals.

Only then will you not only be productive, but also feel the work you do is meaningful and fulfilling.

Adapt and Learn

Especially when working in tech, things change so rapidly you need to remain flexible in your approach.

We all have to keep continuously learning to ensure we work on the right goals.


In order to be truly effective, it is important to focus on both, productivity and efficiency. If you maximise both, you can get the most value out of your time and resources.

This helps you achieve the right goals quick and effective as well as reach your full potential faster.

Your Action Items:

  1. Assess Your Work Practices: Evaluate whether your focus is on doing things quickly (efficiency) or doing the right things (productivity).
  2. Set Smart Goals: Ensure you have clear objectives. This will make sure you are working on both, efficiency and productivity.
  3. Review and Refine Regularly: Continuously assess your strategies and workflows to balance and optimise both.

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Last Update: December 06, 2023