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Undoing Efficiency​

How could efficiency be bad?

Before we explore the costs that trying to be efficient can often incur, let's look at how "being efficient" can be fun and effective.

Efficiency can be fun and effective in circumstances that are routine and not likely to require taking your time at it, being creative, experimenting, and ensuring good relationships with others.

One example of good efficiency: cooking

Even though I still leave some room for creativity when I cook, I'm quite efficient at it. I can throw together a tasty meal for myself in three to twelve minutes (three if it's my muesli dish and twelve if it's a hot cooked concoction).

One of the ways I make it more efficient (and also more fun) is that I have low standards (I call my standards "good enough").

I'll tell you about how I prepare the muesli dish. I keep everything organized right in one place on a cabinet area right here in my office: muesli, hemp hearts, tiger nuts, dried apricots, dried longans, dried goji berries, dried cranberries, dried black currants, dried figs, and liquid stevia (with a nearby pair of scissors). I also have my "cereal bowl" in my office ready to use, along with a spoon for eating. 

On the other end of the cabinet is an electric kettle filled with drinking water, an open bag of soy-milk powder, a large cup, and a spoon.

To start off, I turn on the electric kettle. While the water is heating, I pour a portion of muesli and hemp hearts into the bowl. Then I reach into each bag of dried berries/fruits to take out measured fist-fulls of the various ingredients and throw them into the bowl. I take one dried apricot and cut it up with scissors into the bowl. Then one small dried fig and cut it up into the bowl. I sprinkle a few drops of stevia to sweeten it a bit. 

By this time the water is almost boiling. I pour a large cup full, spoon in two heaping teaspoons of soy-milk powder and mix it quickly. Then I pour the soy milk over the "cereal" concoction. Before I start eating, I may let it sit for a few minutes to allow the dried berries and fruit to soak in some of the soy milk. 

Done! In about three minutes.

Although the ingredients and preparation/cooking methods are distinct for the hot meal, the overall process has a lot of similarities with the cereal concoction: fast and efficient, easy, and super healthy.

Check out some videos here if you'd like to see me in "efficient" action with my meal preparation.

How could your insistence on efficiency incur costs, often much larger than the any benefits accrued?

  1. In your drive to be efficient (which is often your Next pushing ahead without consulting with your Now), it becomes difficult and problematic to make the process fun and thereby be able to easily continue in the process. It perpetuates a lack of Now-Next integrity.

  2. If you're trying to be efficient when interacting or cooperating with others, although you're trying to be "hard on problems," very often you're also being hard on another or others, especially when you get impatient with them. You can damage relationships and cooperation. It's difficult to listen well. And, by insisting on efficiency, you're likely to, not only to damage relationships, but in the bigger picture, you are being less effective. Your insistence on efficiency will interfere with you creating and maintaining Oneself-Others integrity.

  3. Focusing on efficiency is often driven by a sense of survival, trying to avoid or move away from something, rather than moving toward what inspires you and loving the journey. Often it is driven by feeling that you have to prove something (see unproving). This behavior just reinforces and perpetuates a life of toleration and getting through things, rather than a life where you're loving the journey, regardless of how "efficiently" you get to your destinations.

  4. An efficiency mindset doesn't combine well with the mindsets of adventure, curiosity, and creativity. Depending on how much of your time you're focused on efficiency, that adds up to a big cost in the quality of your life.

How to undo efficiency?

First, let's us recognize that efficiency can be important in many circumstances and, when applied appropriately, will create more benefits than costs. The problems arise because, for many of us, we often prioritize efficiency when we shouldn't. Then we start incurring the costs that are detailed above.

"But I have to be efficient. I can't dilly-dally. I already have too many things to get done."

We feel like we have to be efficient. If not, everything will start to break down. The solution here is not that you need to be more efficient. That's straightening deck chairs on the Titanic. You've got a major lack of Now-Next integrity because you've designed your life (mostly by default) where "getting more results" is the lead horse of your life. See Are you Going in the Wrong Direction for how to begin to shift this whole perspective. 

Make friends with your fear that you might not get enough done if you're not efficient

Identify the fear. You won't get enough done? Someone will be disappointed or blame you? You'll think that you wasted too much time? Then ask yourself if it might be an appropriate choice of courage to be willing to be inefficient in the process. If so, then use Undoing Fear to tap into the energy of the fear, ensuring that you add on the other three steps of choosing courage.

Apply other tools, especially in the NNI toolkit, to allow for empowering the benefits of inefficiency

See Doer and the Planner, Under Promising, Buffers, Lifestyle First: Results Second, and Is your Life a Buffet?

Also tools in the OOI toolkit may be needed

See Your #1 Job, Are you Messing in Another's Business, Listening, and the Partnership Conversation.

Bottom line

Be wary of trying to be too efficient. This may be ruining your life.

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