How Small Changes Can Lead to Big Time Savings

If you examine your workday carefully, you may find that very minor time delays are actually eating up much of your productivity.

Stever Robbins
Episode #304

File? You’re Nailed!

Then there’s my file system. My files are mostly archival. That’s a nice way of saying I’m a file hoarder. Most of my files have no useful purpose whatsoever. But there are a few files I use quite often.

Being pretty, er, retentive when it comes to filing, my files are carefully filed in alphabetical order. Every time I need one of my common files, I walk over to my filing cabinet, search through it, and pull out the appropriate file. When the work is done, back it goes.

You can see where this is going. If it takes me 30 seconds every time I do this, and I do it 20 times a week, that’s a couple of hours a year. You may say “Stever! This is great! You’re getting an extra 2 hours of weight lifting and mild aerobic exercise!”

But you forget, I’m a studly manly-man who takes after Get-Fit Guy, Ben Greenfield. My exercise should be intense, at the gym, and include throngs of admirers “Ooohing” and “Ahhhing” from the sidelines. Didn't you read or listen to my series on Becoming a Gym Stud(ette)? Yeah, that's right, Parts 1 and 2.

Getting back to my files, once I saw the inefficiency, I moved my common files to a little hanging file near my desk, and voila—an extra two hours a year I can use to go to the gym and inspire people.

Little Things Add Up

What all these examples have in common, other than being about wonderful me, is that they show how small things add up. The small things are pernicious because individually they’re nothing. They’re so small that when we do a cost/benefit analysis, we never fix them. Our brain says, “It would take a thousand dollars to eliminate this 30 seconds of spinning beach ball. That’s silly!” If only we realized, in that moment, that these things happen over and over again. And when you realize that, they’re very much worth fixing!

Monitor your life for a day. Look for little activities that take a little longer than they should, but not enough to seem worth fixing. If the activity repeats, figure out how much of your life gets sucked into the activity each year. Now do what it takes to solve the problem once and for all. You have one precious, valuable, irreplaceable life. If you’re going to waste it, don’t waste it waiting for a spinning beachball. Trade it to a VooDoo priestess for the power to read minds. It’s much more fun than waiting for Excel to load.

Check out more of my tips on how to become more efficient and productive at quickanddirtytips.com/get-it-done-guy.



About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT. 

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