Do you have any tasks that you do, especially repeatedly, that eat up too much of your time? Of course you do, who doesn’t? 😉 One of the principles of Agile is Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done. Did you catch that? It is an art, a talent that you can get quite good at, with practice if you are like me. The goal of simplicity is to maximize the amount of work not done. So how can you increase the amount of work you don’t have to do? Keep reading to see how to identify the things to save time on and a few ways to apply this principle to everyday life, particularly saving time doing the tasks you already do.
If you are already thinking of some tasks you do repeatedly that you want to save time on – this post will help you find solutions to maximize your time. If not, this post will also help you identify what they are, so read on!
My most recent temporary time suck is hand watering 10 (now 11) new crepe myrtles planted along our driveway! Eventually we will have 22 of them, and mid August is NOT the time to plant them, because you need to water them daily. But it is the time they are on sale, so we got 5 to start with, then 5 more, and then realized we will need 22, so we got one more of this kind and are waiting a month or so to get the other 11.We have a v.e.r.y. long driveway and there is no water close by so watering them meant lugging a 5 gallon bucket full of water while simultaneously pushing the stroller and going back and forth multiple times. If you haven’t carried a 5 gallon bucket of water lately give it a shot it will make you respect all those in the world you have to walk miles (often barefoot) to get their water (often dirty :() and carry it back every single day! But here in #firstworldproblems as I did this for a few days, I realized I was spending about 45 minutes a day doing this one task!
Part of the reason it was taking so long is because I had to stand there and wait/entertain my toddler son while the bucket filled, instead of pouring the one bucket over two trees, while another filled, and then swap out and continue the process.
I asked my husband how much a 5 gallon bucket is and was shocked when he told me about $3.50! Are you kidding me? For less than $5 I could cut my time in half or more! I promptly went out and got another 5 gallon bucket!
Turns out we have another hose as well, so with the two hoses were connected I could get all the way out to the first two trees and water them with the hose, then fill buckets from there greatly reducing how much time and energy I had to spend pushing the stroller back and forth every time. Armed with two buckets, and a longer hose I tried it again and cut my time to 20 minutes! Well worth the $3.50 in my book! Technically I did spend 40 min total with drive time to get the other bucket so it will take a couple days to recoup the full time spent, but I will be watering these trees, plus 11 more daily for a couple months. So the ROI is well worth it to me!
Has this example highlighted a task or two you do repeatedly that you think you can shave some time of off? If so, here are some more questions to ask yourself to help you save time. HINT: You can also ask yourself these questions to help identify what the tasks are that you can maximize your time on.
- Why am I doing this task? Can I reduce how often I do it or eliminate it all together?
- Is there a part of this task that is simply repetitive (like filling a 5 gallon bucket 5 times)?
- If so, is there a way to duplicate or shorten the repetitive part?
Two key things to consider in answering these are,
- Distance – to the task, between the parts of the task, to the tools needed, etc. Keeping the tools you need close to where they are used saves time. Sometimes having duplicate tools is the way to go depending on your situation and if makes sense to spend the money. A great example is tooth brush and tooth paste in a house with multiple bathrooms. Most houses have multiple toothbrushes and tooth paste so that everyone doesn’t have to share one brush (yuck) or go to only one bathroom for tooth paste. That way multiple people can brush their teeth simultaneously AND most people also keep the toothbrush and tooth paste next to each other to save time as well. Imagine having to go into the kitchen to put the toothpaste on your tooth brush and then walking all the way back to the bathroom to finish brushing. Another KEY to this is to make a home for the tools you need and put them back where they belong so you and anyone else can find and use them quickly. When you make a home for things it is easy to put them back and find them again.
- Timing – Can you prolong when you need to do the task again? Can you shorten how long it takes you to do the task? An example of prolonging is we used to water the chickens multiple times a day, then we made a self watering device that needs to be checked daily but is only refilled about once a week. Another example is if you typically eat salad every night with dinner and you buy whole lettuce or grow your own then prepping once or twice a week and keeping it in one of those fresh savers containers (link) or a plastic bag with paper towel to preserve the lettuce saves much time each day doing the same thing over and over again.An example of shortening how long it takes is dishes, if you have a household that grabs a fresh cup, plate, bowl, and utensil every time all day even a small household could produce quite a number of dishes. One solution is to limit how many dishes you have in the cabinet. Keep the large set of dishes in a tote tucked away for when you have a large gathering or a Holiday, but for day to day have a plate, bowl, cup or two and a couple utensils for each person and less time will be spent doing dishes. Another solution if your household is old/ tall enough where you leave all the dishes in the cabinet is to have everyone get in the habit of rinsing/ washing their dishes after they use them, or take turns doing them all or whatever works best for you. The point is the frequency some tasks are done in can be prolonged, or the time itself it takes to do the task can be shortened.
Hopefully these questions and examples are getting you thinking about some of the tasks you do on a regular basis and how you could maximize your time while still getting done?
Please share your insights and solutions below so we can celebrate your successes and learn from each other.