Throughout my career I’ve often streamlined processes that I’ve been tasked with. Initially it was out of self interest, but now to benefit as many people and the companies that they work for as much as possible. Like most people, I’m lazy when it comes to repetitive tasks – but I’m also stubborn, which compels me to keep doing them (instead of avoiding them).
How do you mitigate a task without avoiding it? You optimise it. This is similar to Hlade’s Law (“If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy person; they will find an easier way to do it.”), but I focus more on the benefits to this way of thinking.
To create these process optimisations, you need to invest time, usually a good couple of hours at least. “Doing more work to reduce work? That’s a bit counter-productive isn’t it?” I hear you say. Well that’s true if you compare those 2 hours to that 10 minute task just once. But if you take a long term view, you will see a positive and more beneficial picture.
Getting a 10 minute daily task down to 2 minutes, saves you 4 working days a year! With 8 minutes a day saved, you’re already in the black with time saved after just 15 days. I use this perspective to drive myself to find process optimisations wherever possible and also justify the initial time investment to myself and others.
I’ve put together this infographic to help you and others see the potentially massive benefits of optimising the small tasks. Click on the image to see a pdf version.
I’ll write up another post on how you actually go about automating processes, but for now have a look at what you do in work/life and see if you can identify anything that can be streamlined.
Update – it seems XKCD shares this view too, he just released the chart below a few weeks after my post. It’s a different but great take on the concept – which goes to show there are many ways to visualise and convey a message like this!