Busy hands are happy hands?

I could have worked out. I could have done laundry. I could have driven halfway home.

This was the list going through my head as I rounded out my fourth hour at the salon this morning. It took over four hours for a color and cut (a trim, nonetheless).

But as I sat there, watching to clock tick by, feeling more and more anxious about the time I was guiltily wasting with each movement of the second hand, I forced myself to take a deep breath. I didn’t really have that much to do today. I’d allotted a sufficient amount of time for the other intended activities on my to-do list.

And yet, I couldn’t completely relax. I couldn’t fully enjoy the conversation with the kind hairstylist without wondering if she could add in those foils a little more efficiently if she weren’t talking with her hands.

So I smiled and maintained the conversation, all the while attempting to contain the feeling I get when I’ve been sitting too long. It’s the feeling when you can’t stop tapping your foot and you eventually begin to tap it so quickly you think your toes might fall off.

But, I couldn’t tap my foot because I didn’t want to mess up the cut.

So instead, as I sat in the leather seat, asking about colors and washes and shampoos, I squeezed the fingers of one hand in the other, and then I switched hands. Back and forth, over and over, until my fingers hurt and my hands were tired from all the squeezing.

That’s when I realized that something was wrong with me.

Not just me, though. Something is wrong with the majority of women my age. Both I and many of my friends are afflicted with what I call efficientitis.

It comes in many forms.

One set of symptoms revolves around checklists. It is the feeling that if you don’t have a checklist in hand, and you’re not continually checking things off at all times, you’re insufficient. Many who experience the symptoms of the checklist cannot throw a list away until everything is crossed off (even if it’s July 11 and the item under scrutiny is: “June 13: Ask Sara how flight was”, the checklistee cannot throw it away until the question is asked. It’s problematic.)

In some rare cases, after they’ve completed an activity that was not on the checklist (such as “shower”) they feel the need to add it to the list, just so they can check it off. Obviously, they add it to the list in the original color the list was written in. Also, this person would actually have a heart attack if her planner went MIA.

Others may experience symptoms such as struggling to watch TV or talk on the phone without also performing another activity (classic multitaskers). And still others cannot go to bed at night if everything in their life is not put into the correct place, because, if they don’t put it away tonight, they’ll have to put it away in the morning, thus throwing off the plan for the following day (the anal ones).

And some really sad cases experience all of the aforementioned symptoms on a regular basis.

Just in case you didn’t realize I was speaking from personal experience, I’ll clarify. The sad case I speak of: me.

Therefore, as I sat in the plush leather chair, being shampooed and brushed and styled and pampered, I decided that for just these four hours, maybe I should try and let go. Maybe I should just listen to the girl’s nice stories and relax a little bit.

And so I did. I took a deep breath, had a sip of my water, and asked her another question.

Of course, I made sure to recalculate my afternoon plan in order to ensure I have enough time to run errands and do laundry before dinner. One step at a time.