Productively inefficient

I hate efficiency.

As Kevin Kelly rightfully noticed, “Efficiency is for robots.”

Yes, having deadlines is important. (Otherwise, nothing gets done.) But you can’t put art on an assembly line.

I notice this every time I get sick. Suddenly, I am away from the “grind” for a few days.

I don’t answer emails (or look at them!). I forget about work. And for reasons I couldn’t understand before, I usually became super creative during those sick days.

But now I see what was going on. To do anything creative, you need lots of boredom, or “white spaces” on your calendar. You need mental space.

How can one be creative in a world that pushes you to deliver results, focus on the outcome, always be somewhere, meet someone, sign this, do that, negotiate?

There’s only one way: learn to be productively inefficient.

The best way is to live on two schedules, as Paul Graham would say. The “maker’s schedule” – when you are uninterrupted for long stretches of time to do your work. And the “managerial schedule” – where you are constantly interrupted. Do the former in the morning (or at night) and live two lives, like Neo in the Matrix.

But tactics are irrelevant.

What’s important is the emotional component.

In particular, learning to let go of the guilt you’ll have every time you take a walk in the park in the middle of the workday. It’s important to rewrite the story in your head that says, “You always have to be efficient.”

You don’t. But you can be creative.

Plus, isn’t that what humans want? They say that laziness drives progress – precisely because it helps human beings to be creative and come up with tools to get everything done, with less time, money, or energy.

So don’t halt the progress.