Nona Walia, Has the pandemic slowed down the industrial trait of super efficiency? Does maximization of efficiency give maximum returns or has the pandemic slowdown made us realise that we are more than efficiency machines. Are we witnessing the law of diminishing returns in being super-efficient? The price of efficiency is too high and creates an emotional vacuum. Says psychologist Gitanjali Sharma, “The cult of super efficiency lures you into a trap where you trade-off your mental health. Personal efficiency systems make you want to do everything at once. We take our personal efficiency to workplace and start working like machines, we have become machines in our personal lives too. It’s taking a huge emotional toll on our health.”
In the pandemic, the efficiency paradox has exposed how humans as super-efficient machines become more stressed. The internet is full of efficiency apps, telling you how to be super-efficient; how to sort out to-do lists; how to boost your productivity… We live in a culture that worships efficiency: same day deliveries, doing more with less. We believe, efficiency is good, inefficiency is wasteful. Even as management gurus debate that we can’t afford an inefficient world, the price of efficiency isn’t sustainable, as continuous super efficiency takes the joy out of life. The pandemic has witnessed a catastrophic drop in employee productivity. According to Champion health survey, 67% of workers are experiencing high level of stress, admitting productivity has been impacted. In the industrial world, we wanted to squeeze systems into super-productivity. In the wellness world, we want to be efficient, creative and mentally healthy. Creativity is not an outcome of efficiency. The cultural world does not believe in tightening the systems but rather going with the flow. Instability is the new normal in business. In the workplace of 2022, super efficiency will be replaced by resiliency and agility. As we walk into a new age, just being efficient isn’t enough as systems are fragile and vulnerable. We need to create new paradigms of wellbeing, where humans are more than just machines.
Escape the Tyranny of Efficiency
Escaping the world of efficiency doesn’t mean getting trapped in limitless inefficiency. Right now, everyone wants to scale efficiencies, to speed up processes, optimize behaviours, and maximize time, but it doesn’t result in super productivity. The future belongs to people who do things differently. The global wellness movement is rethinking efficiency. Super-efficient systems weigh the world with social disorder, it creates competition and stress. Wellness gurus who advocate maximization of happiness believe efficiency isn’t in favour of happiness index. When we look at our personal efficiency during the day, we want to get everything done at once. We try to juggle different tasks quickly. We have internalized a factory owner’s mindset, trying to take most productivity out of every hour. We treat our bodies like machines. We measure the value of our days by how much got done rather than other qualities like joy, appreciation and connectedness. Young parents are forever trying to drive their children to be over-efficient; this is stressing them out young. This unnecessary focus on efficiency ends up tyrannizing people in all age groups, as a result everyone is more stressed. According to Psychology Today, it is time to soften the need to function like a machine. Escape the cult of personal efficiency, focus on well-being rather than efficiency. Let’s rethink what it means to be personally and professionally efficient!
Nona Walia is a successful journalist and writer. She’s the author of The Art of Mental Toughness: Survival Lessons from the Pandemic. A motivational expert, she is passionate about helping people live their lives in the best possible way. A wellness warrior and a wellness blogger, Walia has done certified online course on Science of Well-Being from the Yale University. She runs a Wellness Channel on YouTube. She has worked with The Times of India for 24 years as a Senior Assistant Editor and is also the acclaimed writer of many articles for Thrive Global.