Coffee with Mimi: Efficiency is a state of mind

Published 5:20 pm Friday, November 15, 2019


Coffee With Mimi

According to Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, efficiency is defined as (1) the ability to produce a desired effect, product, etc. with a minimum of effort, expense, or waste, or (2) the ratio of effective work to the energy expended in producing it.  Like a machine, for example.

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Well, as I have verified numerous times recently while trying to accomplish various tasks on-line, I am not a robot.  Nor do I want to be one. Maybe once in my misguided youth I thought it was better to be mechanically efficient than to not be so.  However, I am no longer that. I prefer to espouse the philosophy that efficiency by the above definition is not what it is cracked up to be.  This wisdom gained through the ages is well earned. Younger folks would be smart to pay attention. 

Let’s examine the premise point by point.

Before I move further along, the sidebar in this lesson is that multi-tasking is a colossal waste of time, energy and, most important of all, mental peace and therefore should be avoided at all costs.  But, back to the main points, multi-tasking comes later. One thing at a time.

Every desired product must be evaluated on its merits for the given time and in the individual circumstances.  Let’s take selecting a shirt for work as a task which must be accomplished. The product is an acceptably wrinkle free shirt.  The word “acceptable” is key. Imagine it is going to be 95 degrees outside. The air in which you must travel to get from your house to your place of work is steamy.  If you want a wrinkle free shirt, you most likely will need to iron it, hang it on a hanger and carry it to work at which time you will change your shirt in an air conditioned atmosphere.  The ironing effort will, of necessity, be fairly detailed as the entire shirt is going to be visible to all. Your effort in ironing under such conditions will be greater than a comparable session during the winter when you will probably wear an extra layer for warmth even indoors.  On those days, you can arrive at an acceptable level of wrinkleless-ness by going at the collar and cuffs and a good strip down the front in case you will be donning a suit jacket rather than a sweater.

The expense in the efficiency equation can be very minimal if you are well prepared and don’t mind ironing.  On the other hand, you could ditch thinking about ironing at all and send the shirts out. Efficiency of cost, therefore, becomes an exercise and question of personal priorities.  Is a wrinkle free shirt at all times more important than, say, dinner and a movie out? Or, do I send out a selection of shirts which will be set aside to be worn for very special occasions, saving a few bucks here and there, while settling for ironed where needed most of the time.     

By now in this little lesson, I think I need to address the concept of hanging up and folding as soon as you hear the dryer buzzer at the end of the cycle.  I’m sure you all are familiar with the often employed technique of running the shirts through the heat another few minutes in the morning since you were otherwise engaged the day before.  Depending on the plan and the day, that just might be enough effort to accomplish the task and achieve the desired product. This approach not only will result in a pretty good semblance of an ironed shirt, it also helps in the efficiency department by providing a few extra minutes to do something else while you wait.

I must warn you to select your interlude activity with care.  Do not, please, let it be confused with an opportunity to seriously multi-task.  Choose something simple, like feeding the dog, but only if the dog food and bowl are in the laundry room, or gazing out the window.  Sure as the day is long, if you decide to empty the dishwasher or water the plants, you will become distracted by any number of odd jobs in your path and the dryer buzzer will go off again and you won’t hear it and then your day really does get longer as you are without a wrinkle free shirt, still.        

I like a well ironed shirt as much as the next person.  I like to iron. I just don’t like to feel pressured to wear a shirt that must be ironed immediately.  In fact, I have reached a point in my life when I don’t want to do anything immediately. According to Webster, efficiency is getting the product you desire with as little effort, expense and waste as possible.  I think efficiency is choosing the product you desire to fit the effort, expense and waste you wish to expend.  

The most efficient, and favorite, part of my day is the couple hours I spend in the morning doing as little as possible, usually drinking a cup of coffee.