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  • Writer's pictureMichael Kennedy

Don't just do something, sit there!

Jevons Paradox and the Efficiency Trap

As resources are used more efficiently, we end up using more of the thing, not less. As transportation costs go down, for example, people travel more, causing consumption to rise, not fall. This is the general concept behind the Jevons Paradox—it shows how we can’t just rely on making things more efficient to use less of those things.

So it goes for time management as well.

The better we get at managing our time, the more things we have to manage. Getting things done quicker, more efficiently, inevitably leads to having more things to do, not less. In his excellent book, Four Thousand Weeks, author Oliver Burkeman calls this the "efficiency trap."

"The exasperating issue," says Burkeman, "is that if you succeed in fitting more in, you'll find the goalposts start to shift: more things will begin to seem important, meaningful, or obligatory."

The search for efficiency becomes a bottomless bucket list.

Sometimes it makes sense to pause, to put the pursuit of efficiency on hold, and sit without any expectation or emotional return on investment.

“Don't just do something, sit there!”

Don’t sit because you’re hoping to achieve some moral elevation.

Don’t sit because you’re trying to gain some spiritual awareness.

The flipside of Jevons Paradox and the Efficiency Trap, is to sit and do nothing - but notice things with twice the intensity.

When you experience life with twice the usual intensity, your experience of life becomes twice as full as it currently is.

When you sit there and pay closer attention to your surroundings, as mundane or astonishing as they may be, you're likely to find yourself swept up by an unexpected joy.


I’m Michael Kennedy, Olympic Valley, CA resident (the kid who never grew up on Cat Island, in photo above), married to Nicola Kennedy. I’m a premium ghostwriter and photographer. I just want to say thanks for your attention - I appreciate it in such a noisy world. If you enjoyed it, please share with others. It means a lot to me and it helps others see the story.

If you're interested in owning any photos in my gallery: click here, call or text me at 530.608.9150. Let me know what size you want, and I'll send a quote. My email: 

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