Few things bother me as much as “work faster” gurus.
I find the concept of “being efficient” and “being effective” fundamentally broken.
Allow me to explain:
Why Inbox Zero is Not My Cup of Coffee
Now, I want to talk to you about coffee in a minute, but first, let’s talk about emails. Whenever the topic of email management comes up, the assumption is always that all of us have this bottomless hatred of emails—and we must all loathe our inboxes.
There’s just this problem: I don’t hate answering emails.
I think it’s nice when someone sends me a good email.
And, I don’t mind writing a good email myself, either.
Also, I love it when a blog reader drops me a line to say hello and connect. If this would happen to me a hundred times a day, then I’d consider myself lucky for having the problem of finding the time to respond.
Like everyone, I, too, get spam and other emails that aren’t very good, but I don’t mind tweaking my filters now and then. I enjoy tweaking my inbox rules!
But for some reason, unbeknownst to me, the consensus seems to be that I should hate spending time in my inbox and do away with any incoming emails as quickly as humanly possible. As if Inbox Zero was somehow cool.
I don’t get this.
I enjoy replying to good emails, so I craft my responses with care and attention to detail.
I think it matters greatly to find the right choice of words and string them together in a tonality that serves my intentions.
But, seemingly, none of this is as essential as speed-writing staccato emails accentuated by the obligatory emoji to make up for any mistakes in tonality.
“Fast” vs. “Awesome”
I’ve gotten caught up in the glorification of doing things as fast as humanly possible myself:
I once took a severe stab at both speed-reading and touch-typing.
Speed-reading was easy; the secret was to stop making the words with your tongue muscles as you dash through the text.
Touch-typing was worse; it was all about practising not looking at the keyboard. As it turned out in the end, both techniques were perfect ways to destroy the artistic enjoyment of both reading and writing.
I’ve stopped making excuses for being who I am. I’m a tactile person, and I want to feel what I do. At my computer, I use a clunky mechanical gaming keyboard. Why?
Because I want to feel each stroke of each letter and number, and the text about to be written decides how much time it wants, not me or anyone else.
Coffee and Meetings
The same kind of reasoning goes for my morning coffee.
I enjoy each great cup of coffee as if it was my last. I could, of course, down four cups of coffee in ten minutes, but why would I want to do that?
And if I did down those precious drops like there was no tomorrow, I indeed wouldn’t consider it to be an accomplishment. To me, this goes for doing everything that I love doing.
If I would feel the urge to get anything enjoyable over quickly to get my fix—then it’s an addiction that ought to be kept in check.
What about meetings, then?
Everyone seems to be over the moon about having short and fast-paced meetings. But I’ve always had long meetings with my clients and colleagues—sometimes meetings that have lasted for hours on end. We would talk, relate to each other, experiment with ideas and concepts, explore various interesting venues of reasoning, and we would laugh, argue, and listen.
With this approach to meetings, we’ve been able to get to places and results that we otherwise would never have obtained.
Don’t get me wrong. I hate bad meetings, just as I hate lousy emails and lousy coffee. And I can accept that a bad meeting is less useless if it’s being kept short. But the fundamental problem here is not the length of the meeting—it’s the quality of the coffee… sorry, the quality of the meeting.
But I can’t see the value of conditioning oneself to have more bad short meetings, reply quicker to more bad emails, or drink more bad cups of coffee faster.
If all of this is part of what constitutes efficiency, then all those gurus can keep all their “efficiencies” to themselves—at least as far as I’m concerned.
The Fear of Being Slow
Now, I think I know what many professionals fear in this regard:
They fear being accused of being lazy or, worse—being slow.
But that’s not how experience and passion works.
Example: If it takes a junior PR consultant 30 minutes to draft a press release, I could probably produce a press release with the same quality in ten minutes.
If I get 30 minutes to write that press release, the average junior can’t match my draft—even if given a whole week to try.
And, it would take a good two hours to write that press release. I might even be able to write something worth reading.
Does this make me slow? Does this make me lazy?
Well, if that were to be accurate, would that be so bad, then? For the human side of doing business, I rate experience, passion, and creativity a lot higher than output per minute. We should promptly outsource any such repetitive tasks to machines and computers anyway.
Now, some PR professionals might react to the example of the press release as I’m implying that junior PR consultants rarely produces press releases worth reading. Still, writing press releases is what many junior PR consultants do. To those of you who think that I’m out of line here, I’d ask you to randomly collect a whole bunch of officially published press releases and read them through. As per your estimation, how many of them are close to what they could’ve been in terms of quality?
Frederick Winslow Taylor is famously known as an early crusader against inefficiency. After a few failed experiments on the factory floor, he got fired—but wasn’t discouraged. Instead, he became what could be seen as the world’s first management consultant.
Taylor’s basic premise was that all factory workers were lazy, but We could fix that with a stopwatch. Well, you get the idea.
As far as I’m concerned: Fuck Taylor. And as for all of you efficiency gurus out there, it’s nothing personal, but fuck you too.
We must bring your reign to an end.
Your cultural superstardom must have its pedestals sawn clean off. Go and solve Sudoku for time or something. 1This, however, is truly not fair. Creating and solving sudoku puzzles at the highest level requires ingenious craftsmanship, passion, and experience. If you don’t believe me, check out the … Continue reading
Slowness: Experience, Passion, and Creativity
We need a society where young people are encouraged to add that little extra oomph to every delivery—even if they might fail to add actual value every time.
We need a society where we appreciate that experience warrants extra time for a level of quality, ingenuity, and innovation that otherwise could never be obtained.
Instead, we should be celebrating experience, passion, and creativity.
Now, I’m turning my phone off to enjoy a slow cup of coffee in my own time because anything I produce afterwards will be a whole lot better because of that slowness.
|This, however, is truly not fair. Creating and solving sudoku puzzles at the highest level requires ingenious craftsmanship, passion, and experience. If you don’t believe me, check out the mesmerizingly slow and insanely beautiful channel Cracking the Cryptic on Youtube.|