You know those times when life grabs you by the shoulders, pushes you into a chair, and forcibly points your face toward the thing it wants you to pay attention to?
Yeah, I had one of those moments.
The weekend started off great. I ended Friday by listening to the most recent episode of the Moxie Podcast. Along with getting the privilege of being a fly on the wall for Michelle and Dr. Moon’s conversation, I learned about a new-to-me concept: inefficiency in life.
Dr. Moon explained that inefficiency was her word for 2022. Rather than setting New Year’s Resolutions, she chooses a word that she can use to reflect on the previous year and think about what she did and what she wants to do differently this year.
Originally, she got the inefficiency concept from a podcast. In this podcast, they explained that the important, meaningful, purposeful things in life require us to be inefficient. Investing in these things, whether they be relationships, our spiritual lives, or our physical health, takes time. You can’t rush them. And the more you try to hurry them or build up a sense of urgency around these things, the less you can actually enjoy them.
When you operate with inefficiency, you can focus on the thing itself, rather than on the doing. Even if it takes longer and you aren’t productive while doing it, it can still be meaningful to you.
This conversation reminded Michelle of a book she’d recently finished, “I Didn’t Do the Thing Today.” For the book, the author Madeleine Dore had surveyed people about their routines. She found that everyone talks about having a routine, but no one really has one. Routines, like Jenga towers, are made of blocks that we try to schedule, one on top of the other. But, like Jenga towers, they are made to fall. It can’t, and won’t, work forever.
When I listened to the episode, I was fascinated by these ideas. I listened and took notes, all the while thinking about everything I wanted to get done over the weekend. Armed with my vague plans, I was ready to get stuff done.
And then I came down with the stomach flu.
As much as I tried to prop my Jenga tower up, the to-do list I’d planned quickly came crashing down. None of it needed to be done this weekend, but I had planned on it. I was going to conquer it. This was supposed to be a weekend I could leave feeling accomplished!
Instead, I spent the entire weekend moving from my bed to my couch, just…resting.
And I gotta tell you, stomach recovery aside, I haven’t felt this refreshed in a long time. Though it felt like the most frustrating, disruptive thing to happen, it was exactly what I needed.
I had to stop and evaluate the value of the things I wanted to get done. Were they important? Yes. Important enough to push my body over its current limits? Heck no.
I also got the unexpected space to remind myself that done may be better than perfect, but investing in my best work is better than rushing to just get something finished. If it’s something worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
Most importantly, this weekend reminded me that rest is something that has to be chosen and not something that will just happen. Sure, I watched a lot of TV, read a lot, spent way too much time on social media, and took several naps, but not a minute of that time was wasted. Did I have anything to show for it? No. But it was what I needed in the moment and that alone made it good.
This week, I’m trying to hold onto these lessons. I’m giving my brain room to be spacey. I’m reminding myself to find the things that I value and invest my time in them. I’m taking things slower and working to be okay with that.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take another nap.
Get the full story here to learn more about changing the way you think about productivity, hear Michelle and Dr. Moon’s experiences with navigating the world as Asian women, and discover what their six-year-old selves would be proud of them for.
You can connect with Dr. Moon on Instagram at @thequeerkoreanpsychologist.