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It's okay to do something in a sub-optimal way

McKinley Valentine — 2 min read
It's okay to do something in a sub-optimal way
Photo by Microsoft 365 / Unsplash

More importantly: it's okay for someone else to do something in a sub-optimal way.

I am an optimiser, so this is one I have had to learn. If I decide to do something, I google the best ways to do it or the best version of the product, or whatever it is, it's just my way.


It is entirely obnoxious to have someone constantly telling you how to do things, especially if it's in your own home. Which means, if you see someone, for example, cutting carrots and you know a better way to do it. Or using a drill but it's not the best drill for the job. And that person has not asked for help, they are just getting on with their life. And you really, really want to tell them the better way to do it.

You gotta ask first: "Hey I know a trick for doing that way faster, if you want to hear it?"

And if they do not want to hear it, you gotta just shut up. Or if you tell them, and they keep doing it the inefficient way, and it's infuriating to you, still, you just gotta keep your mouth shut. It's, I'm sorry, that's it. If you can't resist the urge, you are saying "my urge to say something trumps your feelings" and hooboy that is some basic boundary violations right there.

"But I just want to make their life better!" That is a good intention, but as soon as they indicate they don't want it, it's become about you, not them. At least be honest with yourself that it's a selfish urge at this point.

I used to bartend with a guy who stacked the glasses in a way that was genuinely worse (but not unsafe), and I would correct him, and he would get annoyed at me, and I would get more annoyed at him for continuing to stack the glasses badly, and we would bicker constantly. And eventually I had the extremely important life realisation that I was prioritising how the glasses are stacked over having a functional working relationship with a co-worker.

So now that's my mantra: "What is more important to me, how efficiently they [cut carrots or whatever], or us having a pleasant relationship, and them not finding me obnoxious and draining to be around?" Because you might optimise the carrots thing but you are absolutely not gonna optimise the relationship if you give unsolicited advice about the carrots. (I guess if you have a compulsive optimiser trying to optimise you all the time, you could try asking them that. There's a good chance they'll say "but I was just trying to help!" but it could be worth a shot. And at least then YOU'LL know what's more important to them. That's useful information.)

Plus, sometimes it's tiring to optimise every last thing! Sometimes you just gotta say: you know what? Whatever. the task is getting done. I don't care if it could be done better. I'm tired and this is good enough. I guarantee even the most optimising optimiser still has something they dgaf about, that some other optimiser is itching to correct them about.

This piece was originally published in The Whippet #77 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!

Unsolicited AdviceEQ & Interpersonal


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