Efficiency 101: A Time To Be Still

So much of this series is about getting things done.  Cramming more accomplishments into less time.  And that’s fine.  That’s part of life.  Particularly American life.  We’re busy people, there’s constantly stuff to do, and efficiency is a means of saving our sanity.

But sometimes you have to stop. Sometimes you have to NOT be doing stuff.  Because in doing stuff, sometimes you lose the POINT of doing stuff until you’re just doing it like some kind of hummingbird on crack, which is a really anxiety ridden place to be (says the woman who’s been wide awake since four this morning).

This is something most Americans are really really bad at.

I make the distinction because when I lived abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland and then Paris, life was very very different.  Initially their way of life drove me nuts.  What do you MEAN I can’t mail a package on my lunch hour because the mail place is CLOSED?  HOW am I supposed to get it SENT?  Can I get the check?  Because I inhaled my food and practically didn’t taste it and I need to get OUT OF HERE so that I can go TRY TO DO MORE STUFF.

Europeans are much better about not sweating the small stuff.  If it doesn’t get done today, it’ll get done tomorrow or another day.  They take time for breaks.  Afternoon tea.  A glass of wine.  A conversation.  A true meal (which in France is an event and to be savored without the interruption of television or hovering waitstaff intent on rushing you out so that they can get the next patrons in).  And in doing so, they are much less stressed people.

I made a really great European.

teek takes time to smell the roses
Image by splityarn via Flickr

When I moved home after my study abroad, re-immersing in American society, even in the South where things are reputed to move at a slower pace, was like being slapped in the face. Frankly, I still miss Europe, even though I’ve reacclimated to the way things are done here.  But I periodically have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to stop.  It’s okay to breathe and be still.

Stop and smell the freaking roses, people!  You’ll be much saner for it.

8 thoughts on “Efficiency 101: A Time To Be Still

  1. What a neat experience to have had, and you’re right about stopping to smell the roses. By the time you’re flitting around like a hummingbird on crack, you’re not very effective anyway.

    1. I spend a sad lot of time as a cracked out hummingbird actually…I start getting that crazed gleam in my eye and it’s….just not attractive… That’s the point when my husband starts removing the sharp implements from my vicinity because I’ll inevitably manage to cut myself or something…

  2. Yeah, I would love to. Would be nice. But the US treats their workers horribly. Vacation up to the employer? Well, good luck on getting 2 weeks a year. 2 WEEKS. Barely enough time to catch up on your sleep. And lunch? 1/2 hour in the places I’ve worked in the last 15 years. Health insurance, so you can attempt to stay healthy? Good luck with that. I’ve had exactly 3 jobs in my entire life who had it and one of them yanked it away from their employees to save money. With all the other jobs I was on my own.

    Which is why I would love to transition to a full-time writer. So I have the option to slow down a little and enjoy the small things in life. Oh yeah, that would be nice.

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