Open a business blog of some kind – a major one like Forbes or Entrepreneur or one of the tiny ones, it doesn’t matter.
Take a look at the homepage.
Chances are that you will see at least one article about boosting one’s productivity, the productivity of one’s team or the entire organization.
Articles like that are ubiquitous and, more often than not, they miss the point completely.
It’s not just that they oversimplify the whole concept, which they also do in astonishingly broad strokes. It’s that they focus on the wrong thing.
In the majority of cases, these articles would be immeasurably more beneficial for the reader if they focused on being more efficient and not more productive.
Getting Down to Definitions
In order to understand why the focus on efficiency instead on productivity is often the better idea, we have to go all lexicographic and formally define these two concepts.
(It should be pointed out here that these two terms can mean a ton of different things in different situations and to different people, especially if one includes the historic definitions and implications.)
In the simplest terms possible, productivity is the measurement of the value and the amount of work that has been done over a set period of time.
Efficiency, on the other hand, describes the capability of a specific effort or application to produce a certain desired outcome, utilizing the minimum amount of waste, resources, or unnecessary effort.
In other words, productivity measures how much value was produced over a certain period of time while efficiency measures the ratio between input and output.
So, why is efficiency (often) more important than productivity?