Why You Need to Ditch Robot-like Efficiency to Improve your Well-being

Why You Need to Ditch Robot-like Efficiency to Improve your Well-being

I’m a member of the American Association of University Women. My local chapter hosts a book club every third Wednesday of the month. The next meeting is just in a few days and I haven’t even started reading the book. I had sort of convinced myself that with everything going right now, spending two hours of my evening discussing  the housing crisis in the U.S. was not nearly as important as getting home and having an entire evening (and couch) to myself.

Well, this morning I changed my mind. With it being the week of Spring break at my university, all of a sudden the fog of multiple daily commitments lifted, leaving me with more than enough time to at least get through half the book before Wednesday night, as I planned to start my reading during lunch.

When I made the decision to attend, I actually didn’t even have the book in my possession. I quickly looked it up on the university library website and luckily it was available. My first thought was to try and get it as quickly as possible. There’s an option to have the book you want pulled for you and then in a sort of library drive-thru, go pick it up without ever having to step foot inside the library. Obviously this is a pretty appealing service. Just as I was about to hit the reserve book button on the website, I stopped myself and thought, “Is it really going to be worth it to get in my car on my lunch break, drive to the library and then be handed the book just because this is the most efficient way to get the book as soon as possible?”

Something about it seemed rather unappealing at that moment. Maybe it was the empty campus, where I didn’t have to fight thru thongs of students trying to get to their next class to just grab a cup of coffee. Or the insanely nice weather we’ve had today that just makes you want to be outside, soaking up sunshine. Whatever it was, instead of the express option, when I had some free time in the early afternoon I strolled to the library taking my sweet time to enjoy the feel of the sun on my skin and the slight breeze.

When I got to the library, I took longer than expected because the book was not shelved correctly. After getting someone to help me, we localized it in one of the bins of newly returned books by the circulation desk. With the book in hand, I thought about hopping on a bus back to lab since that would be a lot faster than walking back but yet again I resisted the impulse to take the most efficient option.

Instead I took a different path on the return trip and even ran into an old colleague, giving us a chance to catch up briefly before we went our separate ways. By the time I was entering my building, my legs actually hurt from how much walking I had done, yet mentally I felt stimulated for taking my impromptu nature walk.

Efficiency is most often used to describe machines although its meaning now regularly bleeds into everyday work conversations but as a human being, it’s nice to take the circuitous path every once in a while.

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