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  • Writer's pictureCalvin

Ruthless Efficiency

Lots of people these days like to be achievement oriented.  To get things done.  To do things as quick as possible and as efficient as possible.  After all, time is money.  It’s always finish one thing and then it’s on to the next.

Sometimes, when I wake up early, I feel good to get a head start on the day.  But then, that need starts to hit me and I feel like every minute needs to be optimized and that I need to be doing something productive every single minute, every single hour, every single day.  Otherwise, it feels like I’m missing out on something.

These days, I’m trying to rein back on that habit of needing to be as productive as possible for every single second.  I understand that sometimes, we all need to have downtime throughout the day.  To have moments and spots where we just meander through and not necessarily do things that are deemed to be productive or “meaningful”. 

That’s what life is all about.  It’s not all about the incessant highlight reels that we see on social media, where everybody is seemingly going at it at 1000 miles per hour, getting stuff done.  Whether that be going to the gym, tackling a challenging project, or traveling to the most exotic place on Earth.

All that is fine and dandy, but we must realize that the majority of our lives are not like that.  It is, on the contrary, actually quite mundane and ordinary.  And that’s okay. 

We aren’t built to go at things with ruthless efficiency.  Out of every one Elon Musk there is in the world, there are probably millions upon millions of simply average Joe’s.  People that wake up and watch TV or listen to the news, without the need to do anything productive.

For me, weekends are the most challenging times because they test my resolve to relax and do nothing.  Sometimes, when I’m not doing anything, I feel almost guilty – like time is passing me by.  But I need to realize that there is nothing wrong with a little bit of nonchalance throughout the day.

Even the task of writing in my blog makes me feel productive and thus, I feel like I am doing something worthwhile and meaningful when I partake in this hobby. 

I remember back in my MBA days, when I travel with my friend, I would meander without a set itinerary.  My friend, exasperated, would remind me that I needed goals in my life.  That I need to continue to aim for things to set myself straight. 

I still remember that interaction with him and I do admit that his well-intentioned advice does have some merit to it.  After all, we all have milestones that we need to achieve and tangible results that we would like to gain. 

But at the same time, not everything needs to be goal oriented or achievement based.  Especially outside of work.  Sometimes, it’s okay to take it easy or go at a snail’s pace or even do nothing if you must.  We’ve been primed to look for meaning and purpose in life that every single meandering action seems like a waste of time at times – especially in fast moving cities like New York.

I do understand that not everybody has the luxury to move at a snail’s pace, particularly if you are working in an urgent field or if you need to meet a strict deadline.  Because again, time is money.  But at some point, it pays to remember that the journey itself is just as important as the result.

We can all achieve great things if we put our minds to it, but not every task is meant to be optimized.  I read in a study that many things in life are intrinsically motivated.  If you add external rewards to those naturally intrinsic motivations, it becomes counterproductive. 

For me, it would be something like Toastmasters.  I am okay with moving at my own pace and giving speeches whenever I feel ready – being fine if I go months without giving a new speech.  Because Toastmasters is one of the few things that I find inherent value in its actual actions and not the results.  The mere ability to simply partake in a meeting is the reward itself.  For me, there doesn’t need to be an extrinsic draw of gaining more recognition or gaining more rewards.

Anyways, everything is different.  And I would just say that certain aspects of life aren’t meant to be optimized.  You simply can’t rush things – like your career, your health, your relationships.  Many things often go in a meandering circle – forward and backwards, up and down, and then forwards some more. 

I know that lots of my life can feel like that at some points.  And I would assume many other people’s lives are like that too.  Because you simply can’t predict what happens on the next day, the next hour, or even the next minute.  So, just enjoy the ride and take a step back every once in awhile to pursue the slow life.  The life where the process is more rewarding than any achievement that you could ever gain.


Everyone here likes to go by the New York minute, where you need to get things done as soon as possible.  As quick as possible.  As efficient as possible.

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