When Chris Guillebeau comes to town, exciting things happen. We crammed over 65 people upstairs at the local coffee shop, talked about non-conformity, and met some incredible people. Thanks to all who came out and joined us.
One of Chris’ talking points was right down the alley of something I’ve been thinking about lately: inefficiency. Chris loves big, inefficient goals, like traveling to all 192 countries in the world, or visiting every US state and Canadian province to ensure the success of his book.
LifeDev used to be about efficiency. Or maybe a better description would be “how to not lose ideas”. (This is something that has taken me years to understand.)
If you dig through the archives, you’ll see that this site used to be all about things like how to work smarter, faster, better every day.
Nostalgia to the Rescue
I have a thing for nostalgic paintings and culture. I love Norman Rockwell paintings and Leave it to Beaver re-runs. Work in previous decades was much more easily defined: you strolled to work at 9, and you left at 5. Market research? Reading the paper every morning. You were expected to perform between “work hours”, and after that it was family time.
By today’s standards, this would be highly inefficient. You couldn’t flip open a laptop and work on some work email after dinner. You weren’t expected to carry a device that kept you on a chain to the boss’ whims. No work email.
The problem is that we’re trying to be so efficient that we forget what it means to disconnect, to get away, to turn off the screen. Work isn’t work anymore; it’s a lifestyle. A half-connected, sleepy lifestyle.
In the book The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working (affiliate link), author Tony Schwartz gives reasons why constantly being connected at medium levels of engagement is positively awful for your work. To quote the author, when we work like this we can only hope to create a “pale version of the possible”.
I’m trying something new: when I wake up in the morning, I no longer check email. I don’t even crack open the laptop. I read. In a paper book. Then, I’ll start writing down thoughts or things that need to get done in a notebook. A paper notebook.
Since I’ve become more comfortable switching mediums and routines, I’ve noticed an incredible shift in energy behind whatever I decide to do. I have more clarity. I have more ideas. I’m calmer, and most importantly, I love morning times that much more. Could there be something to the simple, somewhat mundane tasks we do everyday that might make us more efficient?
(As I was putting the polish on this article, Scott Belsky published these exact sentiments over at The 99 Percent.)
So, as weird as it sounds for a former productivity blogger to say, I’m looking for more ways to be inefficient.