Efficiency Isn’t Everything

Society tells us to move faster and get more done. And when your To-Do list seems longer than Santa’s Nice and Naughty list, that’s tempting.

Sure, some tasks can be done quickly and crossed off. And you could give yourself the gift of more time by crossing a few undone tasks off your list.

Other tasks could be done quickly, yet perhaps you should take your time. The process itself might be more important than, at least equal to, the product.

In grad school, I had a professor who required a certain amount of time spent reading rather than a number of books or pages. He didn’t want us to rush. Instead, he encouraged us to read and reread, to wrestle with concepts, to cross-reference as needed. The process – reading to understand – was more important than the product: how quickly we could skim any number of words on pages. [Interestingly, as I got online to post this, my eye caught on an article in The Guardian about slow reading].

Especially when our schedules feel overly full, it’s easy to prioritize efficiency to our own detriment.

I saw this again this weekend when I led a journaling workshop. In a busy season, by setting aside one hour for the quiet process of listening and writing, each of us found something we needed. Slowing down made a difference.

Sometimes we don’t have time to not take time for what our bodies and souls need most.

Slow down, friends. Take all the time you need. Be present to your tasks rather than distracted by the number of tasks. And prioritize the activities that will maintain you through it all: exercise, prayer/mindfulness, play, whatever fills you up. You are too important to forgo your well-being.

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