Efficiency versus Minimalism

There are two separate trains of thought going around these days that in many ways support each other, but at other time I just can’t seem to balance. The move towards efficiency says that we should make the most of our time, that no moment should wasted, and that we need to do multiple tasks as much as possible. David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, or GTD, is a driving force behind this. On the other hand, the move to minimalism calls us to simplify, to slow down, to do one thing and do it well.

Now much of the time those two philosophies go together quite well. But every so often, like while I was nuking a frozen pizza for lunch, I feel they are at odds. And no, this has nothing to do with my poor dietary habits.

While the pizza was being radiated for four minutes, I wonder what I should be doing. Should I find some other task in the kitchen to fill those 240 seconds? Maybe wipe down a counter or rearrange the spices? This would be a fine example of GTD. Or should I be minimalistic and merely enjoy the short break from working and thinking. I could watch the pizza go around or sit and tickle the cat. That would be simplifying and slowing down.

What was the result? I stressed over which alternative would in the end lead to less stress! There are times when this whole self-improvement thing makes me need a therapist.

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