Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Do All Aspects of Our Lives Need to Be Efficient?

A clock

Thanks to a few conversations I’ve been having with friends, I’ve been think about hacking quite a bit lately. Not hacking of the computer kind. Rather, I’ve been pondering life/productivity/work hacking.

More to the point, I’ve been thinking about the goal behind that kind of hacking. That goal? To help make people work more efficiently. To decrease the number of steps they need to carry out to perform a task. To shave seconds and minutes off a task.

The problem with the culture that’s grown around life/productivity/work hacking is that it also tries to make other tasks more efficient.

Not every aspect of our lives benefits from being hacked.

Not every aspect of our lives needs regimentation.

Not every aspect of our lives needs to be more efficient.

Take, for example, cooking. I have a few friends who are very good cooks. Until recently, they provided me with what became a decent pile of tips that could save me time in the kitchen. They claimed that by following the hacks they shared I could save anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes whenever I was preparing a meal.

The proble is that I don’t want to be more efficient in the kitchen. I don’t want to learn fancy new cutting and chopping techniques. I won’t want to learn the most effective ways of labelling and storing my spices and herbs. I don’t need to learn the optimal wrist movement for when I’m using a frying pan.

To be honest, I don’t aspire to be a great cook. The meals I prepare are simple but they work. The time I spend in the kitchen isn’t taking time away from other tasks I could be doing.

Quite the opposite, actually. The time I spend in the kitchen, doing prep work and actual cooking, is time that I let my mind and my imagination go fallow. It’s time when I divorce myself from the stresses of the day, from the stresses of my life.

That fallow time is more important to me, more beneficial to me, than shaving a few minutes off the time I spend cooking. That time clears my mind. It helps me come up with ideas (including this blog post!). That time clears the slate and helps me prepare for the rigours of tomorrow.

Before you start taking hacks a bit too far, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I need to make what I’m doing more efficient?
  • What will I gain if I try to make it more efficient?

By answering those questions honestly, you might find that hacking a portion of your life isn’t worth the time or effort.

Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.

Did you enjoy this post or find it useful? Then please consider supporting this blog with a micropayment via PayPal. Thanks!