I have a concept that constantly swims through my head that I term: Efficiency.
The dictionary defines effici… screw that. The concept I have constantly going through my head is the idea that there is a shortest path between the current state and a desired state. There’s no regards for difficulty, time, feasibility or any other concern. Simply the least distance. This means basically the least amount of physical movement. Mind you, not the least amount of effort, but the least amount of movement in acting upon the final object or project.
I generally strive for things to be efficient in these terms and it’s often disastrous. I will spend hours, days, months, years or more trying to figure out the most “efficient” way of doing something.
Often this means that to achieve even simple things, I come up with difficult or complex ways of doing it. When coding for instance, I will optimize code down to the absolute fewest characters possible with no concern for readability or maintainability. When designing furniture I’ll spend an inordinate amount of time working out how to do the joinery rather that decide on which joinery is appropriate.
Another aspect to this is that often I will get stuck with very simple tasks due to an uncontrollable gap in time that I can not eliminate. Take a simple task like waiting for an LCD screen to arrive. I managed to write a bunch of totally worthless code, prepare various circuits to test, create some useless tests and then when it arrived I was so mentally exhausted that I did nothing with it for 2 months. In the end, I had everything working in about 45 minutes from scratch from bare board to displaying the necessary image.
Another example is my obsession with typing. I use a modified colemak layout and I spend a ridiculous amount of time learning emacs and vim tricks. It’s not unusual for me to pause while writing to think of the most “efficient” way to make an edit. Rather than just doing it with an extra 3-4 keystrokes, I’ve found myself spending 10 minutes thinking out how to do it in the fewest possible… and subsequently losing my train of thought. I’ve done this a few times while writing this post, and lost my train of thought twice.
Some people I know latch on to my calling a solution ‘elegant’ and subsequently making fun of me for it. I know of 3 people that do, so it must be enough of an indicator of poor behaviour that I need to pay attention to it. Perhaps the idea of ‘elegance’ is an even better description. I tend to strive to make things exceptional in their demonstration, not in their completion or ease of creation.
I really don’t have a solution other than trying to become more goal oriented, and less process oriented. I’m simply writing this as more of a realization of the problem. It’s not efficiency, it’s overthinking. I need to focus more on getting things done, not on the getting done of things.