The fallacy of efficiency

Lake Biwa, Kyoto 2018

In a world where we are driven to pursue efficiency and productivity, we often end up failing to appreciate the need to cut ourselves some slack.

How many of you would fill your calendar and pack your daily schedule? Seize the day! Get the most out of each day by making full use of each waking hour. Or at times even eat into the sleeping hours.

When we have such a tight schedule, we leave ourselves prone to being disrupted. What if an emergency cropped up? Or if a meeting or travel time extended beyond what you allocated?

More importantly, we don’t give ourselves the allowance to slow down. Our pursuit of efficiency leaves little room for us to be mindful. We need some lull time for our brain to contemplate on certain things or to come up with ideas. Sure, we clear the task on hand by being efficient. But we don’t have the luxury to step back and think ahead to avoid unseen problems.

Less efficient, better performance

By being less efficient, we give ourselves more time to perform better. Avoiding a problem is actually better than having to queue more tasks needed to deal with said problem.

Having more gaps in our schedule also allows us to be ready to tackle emergencies and sudden challenges. We can dive right in to resolve problems when they occur since we have been idle and had a break. We deal with the problem immediately instead of adding countermeasures to our to-do list.

We can only handle three key tasks daily. If we only have two scheduled, we would be able to deal with a third when it suddenly drops on our lap. No stress from disrupting our tight schedules and task lists. No delays. No need to push back other tasks to deal with this emergency.

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