Everyone wants to be productive. Our jobs demand it, our busy lives require it, and our brains crave constant stimulation. But is there a value to wasting time? Of inefficiency?
Generally, different people use different methods to maximize their time spent on things. To-do lists. Productivity software. Comprehensive calendars.
If we feel overworked, that might stress us out, so our solution is to try and maximize our daily routine. Perhaps you can shave a few minutes off of making breakfast. Showering at the gym might save some time. Listening to audio books or podcasts during your commute allows you to make better use of wasted time.
Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What is the value of inefficiency?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘How can we encourage debate?’
However, there is some value to unstructured time. Having a tightly-packed schedule where every minute is accounted for is subject to disruption. An unexpected event can throw an entire day into chaos.
Beyond that, there is some indication that proper functioning of the brain requires some down time. After all, what is our need for sleep if it is not inefficient? For roughly eight hours each night we lie still in the dark, as our brains, through dreams, process events from the day or worries we might have. That’s not very good use of time!
Our higher-level, strategic thinking is not something that can be done while running errands or performing routine tasks. For that, you need to devote time to thinking. And sitting and thinking doesn’t appear, from the outside, to be very productive.
In addition, people need to have some time that is spent just relaxing. Just as a muscle can only work for so long before it needs to rest, our brains need breaks occasionally to function properly.
What is the proper balance between thinking and doing? Between productivity and relaxation? What is the value of inefficiency?