Daily Archives

7 January 2014

Productivity tip: start small

In marriage, you first go through engagement. Even engagement starts after meeting someone. All these meetings generally start with the first date. The first date starts from doing something which gets a positive emotion.

You see, in all these steps:

  • The first emotion – the first date – the following dates – the engagement – perhaps moving in together – marriage – children.

People first take a taste. A sample. They see how it’s like.

I think this is mostly a productivity reason – prior to making the big step, you take a small step and see how it’s like. Prior to making the perfect situation, you make a not-so-perfect and try to perfect it.

In day-to-day processes this could mean, instead of hiring someone with a 3 years contract, you have a trial of three months. Instead of signing a big contract, sign a small one first. Instead of doing it all at once, do it in small steps.

You want to build a PC from scratch? How about, prior to buying all the pieces and then seeing what it’s like, you first watch an YouTube video with this?

You want to build a house? How about you first get an idea of what construction is by helping a friend doing home improvement, to get a taste of the process?

Some things can’t be tested. You can’t test how it’s like to fly a plane. You can have an idea, but for the process itself you just need to do it. You can’t “partially” move. When you go and sleep at other people’s houses, you don’t have enough time to test everything, and you won’t know 100% how would it feel if you lived there. You can’t partially move (well, most of the time, see engagement above).

For the other ones, those who can have a trial version, it’s actually better to do it like this.

Let’s say 3 people want to work for you. You could go through a laborious process of finding the best candidate, or you could hire all 3 of them for one week and see how it goes. And at the end of the week keep one, or two, or three, or none. Or extend the test period to two months. And after that to two years. And after that to a contract without a time frame.

It’s a typical mistake – you assume that you can predict future behavior by analyzing the past. So, you read CVs, one interview, another, a test, and all of that to predict the behavior of the potential candidate. How about you give that person something to do, and you would see exactly, on the spot, what are the weaknesses and strengths?

You want to clean the whole house in one day. How about you start in small processes, which can be not linked to the big one? Organizing a cabinet. Organizing the deposit box. In the end, by doing the small steps, the final task will only involve dusting and using chemicals to clean, and using the vacuum cleaner, and it would only take a few hours, instead of a whole day.

You want to reorganize your hard drive. How about you start with a folder. And, in another day, with a different one. And, yes, you will have a very large folder with old documents, which will take more time. But by that time you would have entered the mood and you would know the pleasure you (probably) have after finishing a small step.

Save the world. One step at a time.