Yup. You read the title right—the downside of efficiency. How can there be a downside to efficiency? Let me enlighten you.
For those of you who are Type A personalities or recovering Type A personalities, or who have learned to be efficient by force of nature (like many special needs parents or folks facing huge challenges), you will face some problems. How do I know? I live it.
Here are four side effects of efficiency that should be labeled on the bottle or mentioned in the commercial voiceover:
Rule followers, Type A’s, people pleasers—we all want to do it just right. We try to figure out the best way to get it all done. Tremendous stress piggybacks on that desire—“What if Susie Q hates the way I do it? What if later I discover I could have done it a different way and shaved five minutes off the time spent?” What if, what if, what if. Do you know how many muscle knots and ulcers “what if” creates? Do you know how much sleep you lose over “what if”?
As I sit here typing, I know it is completely silly to feel guilty over the possibility of a better solution or a better way to do something. You carefree folks are making fun of me right now, and my fellow efficiency-seekers know exactly what I mean.
You’re not sure there is a better way, but you feel guilty that you didn’t spend more time determining the best route for the zoo trip because if you had found a better route, everyone could have had five more minutes to get ready. Or perhaps if you discovered a different method for storing your school supplies you could get one more thing off the book shelf and into a closet. But you’ve already spent weeks on that conundrum and nothing better has surfaced. BUT IT COULD BE OUT THERE! Guilt, guilt, guilt.
Those of us who feel pressure to be most efficient get frustrated when we can’t determine the solution. We get frustrated when friends and family don’t do things our way. (You know who you are, the ones who rearrange the dishwasher after someone loads it for you.) Frustration is not our friend.
Discontent goes a step further than frustration. We just can’t be happy with the way things are. Not only should there be a better way, we won’t be happy until we’ve found it. Or, we make everyone else miserable because we’re miserable.
Which brings me to my fifth point. The above four are ways efficiency can negatively affect us. However, it also affects those around us. Our children get nervous when we’re uptight because we’re stewing over something. Worse, our children pick up our perfectionist tendencies and bring this stress into their lives.
We snap at our spouses because, dag nabbit, can’t you put the dishes away correctly? I’ve told you, when these bowls go in this spot you can fit more glasses over here!
How about those of us who have taken efficiency so far that we make ourselves sick from the stress and then we can’t take care of our family because we ourselves are falling apart?
What’s the solution?
Learn to let go.
Breathe. Release the white-knuckle grip. Think of Dory yelling to Marlin as they were in the whale, “Juuuussstttt leeettttt goooooooo!”
Don’t slap me. I didn’t say it would be easy. I’m just saying, if you want your life to be less stressful and people to be happy to be with you, let it go. You can still be efficient. Just don’t make yourself and others miserable with the process. Spend a reasonable amount of time finding the answer, choose an answer, and do it. Then be done with it.
And if you find a better way to get to the zoo, use it the next time.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go rearrange the cupboard. I know I can fit something else in there.
Oops. OK. I’m going to let it go and play a game with my boys instead. See ya!
How about you? Do you see yourself in any of this? Have you had to make changes? Are you laughing yourself silly at me? Leave a comment! Just make sure you use the fewest words possible to convey the most meaning.
There I go again…
(For those of you who are looking for more help with efficiency, you’ll find lots of organization ideas over at Home Educating Family’s blog!)