Efficiency Expert

Working at night with a glass of wine may be relaxing, especially if your agenda is in another room and buried by bills. It’s not very efficient, if you expect to accomplish anything.

Pursuing the same tasks at your desk or table, with good light, a cup of coffee, and your checklist nearby? It’s more efficient, regardless of the hour.

Then again, if you’re on your tenth hour with little break – or your fourteenth, you might trade that Cabernet for a martini and it may be just the ticket – for remembering that none of us is built to work around the clock.

What else?

May we all join in a refrain of “some things are out of our hands… and I give up?”

Tackling Our Crazy Lives “Efficiently”

Out of my control, out of my control, out of my control, I tell myself, and the words “Efficiency Expert” pop into my mind as I’m staring at the ceiling in the dark, in the middle of the night.

I could have gotten up and worked – perhaps I should have – but my not turning on the light and opening my laptop was an explicit choice, a matter of discipline.

It had been a long day after a long week and a Friday doctor’s appointment ran three hours behind and caused me to be late, late, late and worn down. Very worn down. Especially sitting in Friday evening rush hour traffic! But sometimes, events we can’t possibly anticipate nudge the best laid plans right off the table. However efficiently we may plan and execute, we’re out of luck.

Efficiency Expert indeed – but to do what? Evaluate my capacity, the methods to my madness, my tools for managing work and “life?”

Efficiency Expert? Not So Fast!

Recently, I was speaking to a friend about the single mother daily dance, and how somehow we manage to juggle while hopping on one foot, talking into our iPhones, all the while judiciously governing our little (and larger) worlds. We are presumably efficient at times, while at others we’re… let’s just say it… we’re a mess.

The dictionary reminds me of the definition of efficiency:

… the ability to do something or produce something without wasting materials, time, or energy : the quality or degree of being efficient…

No waste of materials, time, or energy – and theoretically, no waste of resources of a human and monetary sort.  A tad simplistic in our millennial lifestyle, isn’t it? And inhuman – when you consider the way we live and work?

Wasting Time Isn’t a Waste of Time

That glass of wine, which in my case was a martini about eight last night?

I’d hardly call it a waste of time. It was soothing, relaxing, and delicious besides. In my case, I don’t stop for much or often, and sometimes it takes an external event – like a doctor’s office running many hours behind – to force me to sit still and take a breath.

Yesterday, without my laptop on hand, I wound up irretrievably late and then stuck in traffic. But the waiting at the doctor’s office brought a chat with an interesting woman, and gave my brain a bit of a break.

Still, I loathe tardiness, and as a result of yesterday’s “out of my control” event, I’m late on an item that has yet to get done, leaving me wondering how I might be more efficient.

Then again, when you operate with little or no slack, maybe I should reconsider my priorities.

Realistically, how can any of us operate with little or no slack?

Why are Some People Always Late?

As one who is rarely late on a task – I feel that it’s disrespectful to the person who is waiting – when I became a mother, and more so a single mother, I had to lighten up. On myself. Kids kick our best laid plans right off the table – a little visit to the Emergency Room for stitches, a missed school bus and walking is out of the question, a parent-teacher meeting that comes up suddenly. Hell. Lice. Do we remember lice?

Setting aside the peculiarities of parenthood, some people couldn’t care less about efficiency or anyone else’s time – or so it seems. Psychology Today has this to say about those who are habitually late.

… chronic lateness can be explained in one of two general ways. The first is some personality feature… that suggests the phenomenon serves some psychological purpose… tardy arrivers enjoy the attention… Or maybe they feel guilty for other reasons so that lateness gives them a chance to apologize and seek forgiveness…

I’d say this more accurately sums up the lateness situation for some:

Or… people are simply indifferent to the effects of making others wait for them, a symptom of a more general egocentricity…

Hello, Narcissism?

Lateness as a Sign of Our Chaotic, Overfilled Plates

I don’t discount the psychological phenomena of those who are chronically late, but isn’t that too simplistic?

Is that too simplistic? What about our jammed agendas? Our “no slack” schedules? Our commitments to the many hats we wear and unrealistic performance expectations?

What if we need a new kind of Efficiency Expert – one that helps us reevaluate our priorities, rather than focusing on where we’re generating waste? Isn’t it possible that we’re beyond finding ways to do more faster with less, and what we need is an Expert Extraordinaire to point out that the world won’t come to an end if something is late, and that “perfect” or anything like it comes at a high price?

Couldn’t we do with a an assist to help with portion control when it comes to tasks we take on and the timeframes to consume what’s heaped on that enormous plate? Don’t we need to think about who we want to be, what matters to us most, and the extent to which we’re winding ourselves down with the rushing around?

Doctor, Heal Thyself!

Yes, I need to work on this myself. Time and time again.

I take on too much. Some of it is necessary. Some of it is not.

I need to accept that I can’t do it all, that I’m the only one who expects it, and that I don’t have to juggle the way I did for so many years… at least, not quite to the same extent.

Am I alone in wishing for an outside party to swoop in and offer a tsk tsk and a prescription for prioritizing? Is that too simplistic, too?

On that note, no script of any sort other than my own to follow, I’ll slip out of my superwoman costume and heels and into my sneakers for a walk. Tonight, I plan on a good glass of wine and once again, I’m telling my checklist to take a hike… at least for today… and in the opposite direction.