Productivity lessons I learned while on vacation – lesson #1

Lesson #1:  Many of us waste time and energy using the wrong tools.

Here’s the scenario … three families sitting on the beach on a hot and sunny summer afternoon at the cottage. Three of our kids come up to us and want to use the giant floating toys, which are currently deflated. It doesn’t take us long to figure out that blowing up these things the old-fashioned way (i.e. using our lungs) will take at least 30 minutes.

We look at each other. Then we look at the puppy dog eyes these kids are giving us and we begin to blow. Shortly afer we start this exercise that is making us feel light headed and dizzy, I remember we have a pump that is equipped to inflate these toys. But there is a glitch.

The issue is it’s in the garage that’s at least 400 yards uphill from where we’re sitting. I mention it, hoping that someone will volunteer to go and get it … but no one does. We continue to huff and puff as the kids grow increasingly anxious to get into the water with their toys.

I mention it again, saying half-heartedly that maybe I should go and get it. Still, no one volunteers. I’ve had enough. Why are we wasting our time and energy, instead of taking the necessary steps to get a tool that will make this task quicker and easier?

So off I go. Eight minutes later I’m back, pump in hand. Within minutes, these things are blown up and the kids are in the water having fun.

Here are three things about productivity that I learned from this summer vignette:

  1.  Apathy is our worst enemy when it comes to being productive.
  2. Many of us continue to use methods that will get the job done, but not as quickly and efficiently as if we had the right tools.
  3. If we were more efficient, we’d have more time to play in the water on a sunny summer afternoon.

So look around. Check in with yourself. Are you using methods you know aren’t making you as efficient as you might otherwise be, but you don’t have the energy to break out of your routine?

Think about how you can change it. Then take the first step and go get the pump.

What are some of the things you do that you know you could do more efficiently? Share your comments below and continue the conversation.

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