When an person is highly adept at prioritizing and focusing and setting boundaries and compressing time and insulating against distractions and doing only the work matters, they can become incredibly prolific.
But they also can become a victim of their own efficiency. Because if they clear their desk too quickly, they become underwhelmed and restless. If they create an overabundance of time and energy and inventory, there won’t be any urgency left to galvanize action.
It’s like the farmer with a surplus of crops. Despite his strict planting allotments and continued retirement of certain farmland from cultivation, at the end of the season, he’s still stuck with three hundred bushels of wheat, and not a buyer in sight.
Not good for business.
I once found myself underwhelmed in this very way. After busting my butt and finally wrapping production on my second documentary, the fumes of meaninglessness started to trickle in.
Because I had nothing left to do. It’s like I have nowhere to be and all the time in the world to get there.
And so, in the absence of having another exciting project to bite into, my usual feelings of wholeness, usefulness and commitment were replaced by emptiness, apathy and boredom.
That’s what it feels like to become a victim of your own efficiency. And what’s especially dangerous about this state of mind is, when left with so many kilowatts of energy to redirect, you can start sending your energy off in harmful directions. Addictive directions.
Pollack was accurate when he observed, painting is no problem, the problem is what to do when you’re not painting.
And so, next time you find yourself underwhelmed, always look for healthy, creative and connected ways to relieve the anxiety of inactivity.
Because into every void rushes something.
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That Guy with the Nametag
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