We Are Already Looking At It

greyscale photography of car engine

Let’s discuss the struggle and realization of finding balance between brutal efficiency and personal well-being.

Whenever Thomas and I go out, I make it a point to map out our entire route, figuring out what potential stops are along the way. When one of us thinks of something we need for the house or for ourselves, I always say “we are already looking at it.” This has become my catchphrase when it comes to going out and doing things more efficiently. While it may sound silly on the surface, my thought process behind it is based on the conservation of energy, which is a highly limited resource, especially for my chemo ravaged body.

Efficiency has become my number one priority in life. With each passing year, my strictness for efficiency grows. In another article, I plan to explain more in depth my thought process for being more efficient; but here, I want to talk about how I got to this point. Perhaps, my obsession with efficiency is due to needing some sort of control mechanism to organize myself. Generally, I’m quite a disorganized person. But, when it comes to day trips or vacations, I make it a point to know all of the places we could go that would offer us some sort of benefit or resource. This is bizarre considering that I hate planning, but when it comes to spending time away from home, I become extremely focused on making the most of an excursion.

In the 2020’s, we live in a world where in many urban and suburban areas, if you need something, there are many options to get it quickly and conveniently. But, when you live in the middle of nowhere, which has been the case several times in my life, you have to make the most of your trips to more commercialized areas.

If you forget something while you’re in town, you either have to order it online, or make a special trip just to acquire that item. When you factor in the cost of fuel, it often becomes easier just to pay extra shipping cost to get what you need. But, not all things can be acquired by delivery; we can’t get groceries delivered right now, for example. So, I make it a point to know exactly what we need at all times, where things can be gotten, and how to best organize each time we leave the house.

When it comes to writing, there’s also a slant towards efficiency. Whenever I have the energy, I write as much as I possibly can. That way, whenever I find I’ve fallen behind on posting for my site, which is often, I have plenty in the queue to choose from. The drawback to this is that sometimes I end up with so much in my queue that I become extremely overwhelmed.

Because I have such a huge archive of articles, many of them related to trading card games and therefore typically evergreen, I can still post daily with relatively little effort for many months to come. The trouble is, the quality of said archived posts diminishes with each passing day; now, I’ve come to a crossroads where I must either bring these queued posts up to my ever more exacting standards or simply discard them and produce something new in their place, related or not.

If I’m already looking at a post, though, whether I feel it’s really up to snuff or not, I tend to just schedule it anyway. Given that I have really no deadline, my daily posting schedule being self-imposed, I should take my time instead. For a while, I was posting just once a week, but my views and search engine rankings tanked. Unless I post at least once daily, it seems my site’s relevance fades fast; as someone who worked in social media marketing for over a decade, I know why this is. It has become more about quantity over quality, and that makes me sick. But, for the sake of efficiency, I must make this sacrifice for the good of the whole.

All this being said, though, I have considered taking on the role of a personal shopper, because frankly, I’m really good at it. The trouble is, people these days who hire such a role seem to be the more entitled among us. I already serve this role for Thomas, anyway, among many others, of course, and that seems to be satisfactory for me.

Where I feel I’m lacking is using these models of efficiency I’ve built for myself in more productive ways. I apply them mostly to attempting to conquer free-to-play games, as while I can afford to put a substantial sum of money into them to make my progression much easier, the real game for me is in the struggle to compete in a free-to-play environment. As soon as I spend something, the struggle goes away and it’s no longer worth my time. Bringing brutal efficiency to everything I do seems paramount to my survival, as silly as that seems, yet I know it’s the key to success in business. At this point, being all about business isn’t really all that useful, though.

My tendency towards brutal efficiency, though, while useful in saving money on groceries, household goods, and the like, has made my gaming and writing feel forced and more recently even un-fun. What I have turned into a life or death struggle should just be a fun challenge to distract myself from the traumas in recent years that have scarred me deeply. The same should be true of my writing; rather than focusing on efficiency, I should instead be turning my work towards fine art. I’m not making any money on any of it, neither do I need to. My penchant for efficiency has served me well when I was barely hanging on, but now, it’s simply driving me into the ground for no good reason.

“We are already looking at it” seems like a cute remark. But, when you realize the overworked motor grinding under the hood is beginning to smoke, you finally realize maybe I should cool down and just take a deep breath. While my brutal efficiency can remain effective in managing finances, it shouldn’t be affecting my downtime in such negative ways.

My inability to actually have fun is beginning to become dangerous, and it’s probably a good thing I finally realized this. I may only be about thirty-five years old, but I feel twice that age right now thanks to forcing myself to think so narrowly towards goals that are now counter-productive to a happy and healthy life. Fortunately, I think I figured all this out just in time.

So, the next time you feel you just need to hang loose and do something stupid just for the sake of it, your gut is probably right. Time to listen to my gut and have a Snickers bar… if only they made them dairy and soy free…


5 key takeaways from this essay about more efficient planning:

  • My obsession with efficiency stems from the need for control and organization in life.
  • Living in remote areas requires careful planning and maximizing resources during trips to more commercialized areas.
  • My approach to writing involves writing as much as possible when I have energy, but it can lead to feeling overwhelmed.
  • The tension between posting frequently for site relevance and maintaining high-quality content is a challenge for me.
  • I realize the negative impact of excessive efficiency in my enjoyment of gaming, writing, and personal well-being, and the importance of finding a balance.

Related: Success is a Consequence of Your Actions, Not a Coincidence | What I’ve Learned About Diversions and Distractions | When Writing (and Life) Doesn’t Go According to Plan

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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