I squared the printed pages neatly on my desk. Tap, tap, tapping on one side, and then three taps on the other, so the edges of every paper lined smoothly with the rest. I picked up the stapler, careful not to muss up my alignment, slipped it over the top left corner, and clicked. But it was the wrong kind of click.
Instead of the rich sound of staple connecting with paper, the weak echo of a hollow barrel signaled a problem. Frustrated, I pushed the stack of pages, now disheveled and scarred with a ragged perforation on the left corner. Then, I opened the metal jaws of the stapler and peered at the neat row of nearly half a sleeve of smooth staples. For the umpteenth time in a week, I wasted over twenty minutes trying to figure out why some invisible force kept me from finishing my project. I’m not a cursing person, otherwise, ugly language might have wafted from my office.
Has this ever happened to you? Maybe you’re smarter than me, but too often, I try to force things beyond their prime. On the job, it opens up a gap in work-flow, and allows another Invisible Drain to force productivity through its cracks. Today, we’ll look at two more ways we allow valuable time to slip away.
1) Tools: We live and work in a period of the greatest conveniences known to man. So why do we waste time using tools with broken hinges, faded numbers, or short-circuits? If it’s the money, have you calculated how much interruptions and attempts-to-fix cost you?
Hammers and nails are available at the hardware super-store a few blocks or miles away. Does your crippled blow-dryer only work on a low setting? Run to the nearest Wal-Mart or Target. Go online and have your office supplies delivered the next day. Don’t continue to struggle over and over again with dysfunctional tools. And don’t forget to identify missing items, sometimes we fail to make use of modern improvements. It’s like spending half a day to cut down a tree with a handsaw, when a chainsaw will do the job in thirty minutes. How much is your time worth anyway?
2) Technology: This is where modern convenience can cause cracks allowing efficiency to float away. Text messages, social media, email, online shopping, trivia, and gossip-checks are a few ways technology drains our time. Addiction to news reports and other people’s status creeps into daily habits, and we don’t realize how much distraction steals. A simple push of a button from on to off can save hundreds of minutes a week. Schedule technology use. Resolve to focus on your tasks. Like caulk in cracks, plugging the drain of excessive technology empowers you to fill your time wisely.
When I pay attention to my habits, many Invisible Drains are exposed. If I continue to look, and plug the gaps, I always get more done.
Anita FreshFaith @ Work
Ecclesiastes 3:6-7 (NIV)
…a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,…
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri.