Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Maximize Inefficiency

I was sitting on the couch yesterday, reading an article, and I had to pee. And my first thought was: "If you wait until you're hungry, then you can use the bathroom on your way to the kitchen to make lunch." This has got to stop.

I don't know at what point I fell into this Fordist mind-set, but it suddenly strikes me that it's a logic that rules my life. I have to get a pair of pants hemmed, but the tailor is by the Target, which is by the grocery store, and the post office is on the way---I should just save up all of my errands and run them at the same time. Don't waste a trip! There are weeds in the yard, and there are maples that need to be dug out, and while I'm out there I should put down mulch and put weed killer on the ivy---do it all at once, don't waste the motion! In this essay, I need to talk about the historical background, and then I need to find a couple of quotes from a document in the basement, and then I need to consider what my colleagues have said---I'd better figure it out before I start to write, I wouldn't want to waste a word!

What I'm realizing, of course, is that this kind of thinking is detrimental in two ways. First, the procrastination researchers would say, I'm setting myself up to fail. If every task is huge and seemingly insurmountable, then I can't ever start. By saving everything up to do in one fell swoop, I'm making every molehill into a mountain. Second, the effect is one of two things: either I do nothing, because I can't stand the idea of beginning such a huge set of tasks, or, when I do work up the wherewithal to dig into a project, I'm exhausted and spent by the time it's done, and then I never want to begin again.

If I had to guess, I'd venture that all of this is conditioned by some wonky idea about "efficiency," in which I think it is, literally, "a waste" of time, energy, gas, an extra step, if I were to not do everything all at once. As if I'd like to be some sort of cold fusion automaton who never runs out of energy because its system is so perfect as to conserve fuel all the time. Instead, what I should be trying to do is burn fuel like it's going out of style (which, eco-apocalyptics, it is, n'est pas?). I think I want to expend as much time and energy and thought as possible and see what happens. I know what efficiency looks like, and it bears a striking resemblance to paralysis and apathy. Let's try exuberant waste for a change and see what happens.

What's the worst that can happen? Maybe I pee before lunch?



Blogger ~profgrrrrl~ said...

Sigh. I do the same thing.

Monday, May 18, 2009 11:07:00 PM  

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