I love efficiency. Especially with time. I love to kill two birds with one stone (metaphorically speaking). Whether that’s by listening to podcasts in the gym, or while driving, or while walking, or if it is by working in a café (which is actually three birds – coffee, work and atmosphere). There are important things, that I love to do, which, if I can do them at the same time as something else, then I feel like I am winning at life.
Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, and many other people, suggest that multitasking doesn’t exist. We might think that we are doing two or more things at once, but in reality, we are switching between tasks and giving nothing our full attention. That might be fine for listening to podcasts whilst working out, but for creative work, or work that requires some deep thought then we are not giving it our best. It feels efficient, but it is the opposite of that.
In my efficiency drive, I miss things in the periphery. I miss down time. I miss the stress behind the slack message from my colleague. I miss the sub-text behind what my child just said. I miss the gap that is growing between me and my wife. I miss how I am feeling.
It takes some “inefficiency” to begin to catch what I am missing. It takes some space, which requires consciously not doing a task, or listening to a thing, or worrying about an upcoming commitment.
This kind of inefficiency is generous – to those around us and to ourselves. The generosity of presence.