I was in my kitchen the other day stirring together two powders to make my version of chai latte. I take a powdered chai and a powdered white-hot chocolate and mixed them together. It’s a little less spicy than regular chai and a little less sweet then white-hot chocolate. It takes a little time, stirring to make the combination right.  But in the end:  a perfect morning cuppa!

As I was mindlessly stirring the two powders together, my brain drifted to the question of efficiency. For a brief second I wondered if there was a more efficient way of mixing these two. And then I was horrified!  We endeavor to make our lives easier by inventing devices to do the mundane deeds. Like mixing together two powders. And then I stopped. If I had a device do the work for me, I would never have had the time to think about just how inefficient efficiency is.

Perhaps I should explain. Efficiency comes from being efficient. The definition of efficient is:  achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense or working in a well-organized and competent way or preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource. You must love Google search.

Maximum productivity. That sounds good. Well organized, a minimum effort, competent and my favourite:  preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource. What about us? All the tools we create to make our lives easier actually prevent us from actually ‘doing’. We sit in our armchairs and direct from a distance but we don’t get our hands dirty. I think a little dirt is called for. How else are we going to learn?

Ask anyone who creates just how that feels. Ask a woodworker, an artist, a chef. They take of themselves and create. Machines can’t! Or at least not yet. We need machines to assist us as tools. That is a given and I accept that. What I do not accept is people giving up control. We defer to whatever our phone happens to say but we never think to wonder if we have asked the right question.

I used to bake bread. It was a long drawn out process, I had to get my hands dirty. And I loved it! I would follow the recipe to a certain point and then I would become creative. A bread maker can’t do that. Only human hands can. Machines follow directions given to them by human beings. Machines build cars nowadays because they’re more efficient then people. But they’re not perfect. Ask anyone who drives a car that stops when it rains. Machines can’t find the problem and fix it, only people can. So why do we continually bow to the machines that we created to make our lives easier?

Do we use the time we supposedly gain from using machines to better ourselves or our environment? No. We’ll use that time to work harder so that we can afford to buy machines to make our life easier so that we can work harder so that we can . . . It’s a vicious cycle.

Machines are tools that we should never give up control to. Let’s not lose our ability to think. It’s one of the few things we have left.


37 thoughts on “Efficiency

  1. Murphy's Law

    Well said Pam. We would all do well to think about this. We rant and rave about the annoying robots calling us on our phones. We want them gone! Yet, we buy robots to vacuum our carpets, transport things from point A to point B, run our refrigerators, and probably walk our dogs.

    You are absolutely right….machines were meant to be our tools, not take over for us. We have the greatest “machine” of all right between our ears!! Use it, or lose it!!

    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dweezer19

    I couldn’t agree more, Pam. When I was younger and busy with four sons and family life I was eager to make everything from scratch. No project was out of reach from play dough to Giant soft pretzels. I listened to one of my children who happens to be a programmer extol the virtues of Alexa’s new ability in his house to turn off the Christmas tree lights while leaving on a lamp so he wouldn’t have to get up from where he sat holding the baby. How nice it was nit to disturb their time together. I live my children and don’t interfere but each generation is growing less resilient to hardship and inconvenience while expecting more understanding and higher wages. While I believe we needed to become softer in some areas of old school discipline, I don’t think bringing up your children to expect everything to be done with a command or a hand clap is reasonable. When the big switch gets flipped just who will be left to rebuild when no one can walk across a room to turnout a light? Alexa, can you turn on the time machine and take me back about 20O years? 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

  3. delphini510

    Pam, I would have mixed those ingredients myself too. Think of the care, the peace and expectation you whisked in. There is a mindfulness in this.
    I agree that we need tools and always did but it is sad to become a slave to them.
    Wisdom in all things.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. oldmainer

    Love this. And you are so right. Hummm. I wonder what I could be doing if I were dictating this message via Bluetooth. But then, I would have to make sure it didn’t auto correct and put in the words it thinks I am saying. Perhaps if there was a way to have it read my message back to me so I could do a voice correction. But that takes time too. Oh well Pam. I guess you are stuck with this manual response. At least this time:)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. pensitivity101

    Good post Pam.
    I’m old school, which is why I’m popular at dart as a chalker because I don’t need an electronic scoreboard.
    When I was working, I was a good time manager. I found ways to make my job more stream lined but by being more efficient, I just got loaded with more work. Duh!
    These days there are times when I like to take the long route. I don’t have to rush anymore or have things done yesterday. Sure it’s nice to find shortcuts, but the creative side of us misses out. I find this with my card making, and those odd wonky bits or things slightly off centre have become my personality ‘trademark’. As for apps etc, Nah. I wouldn’t know how to use one anyway (or have the equipment to use and receive them either).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dan Antion

    Your point about asking the right question is becoming critical. Today, you “ask” google, but you see 100,000+ responses. Maybe you view the first page, maybe you find it interesting and you view 2 or 3 pages. If you ask your Google/Amazon/Apple device, you get one answer. That answer was selected, based on an algorithm that you do not understand, and which may well have cultural biases built into it. Perhaps the bias is unintentional, but it’s there.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Mark Lanesbury

    Imagine a worldwide earthquake with fires that destroyed all electricity and the plans for re-making them. Everything would need to go back to basics…everything. No one knows how to build a power station from their heads, its all in that computer that now doesn’t work.
    There’s no milk to buy, you have to get a cow. You can’t ‘duck down the street’, you have to now walk a long way to obtain something. If you cut your hand, the doctor probably no longer exists anywhere near you. If your hungry, you have to go searching for food, probably hungry for days…and then fighting with others for your survival.
    We are so removed from that survival, reliant on so much, removed from life.
    I think I might appreciate my coffee by the beach a little more today, along with the walk that takes me there 😀
    Great post Pam 😀

    Liked by 1 person


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