In my last couple of posts, I’ve written about the cost of wasted motion and how to notice when you are wasting motion. Now I want to talk about what you can do about it. For some people, becoming aware of the cost of wasting causes them to feel immense guilt each moment they aren’t doing the optimal action. As I discussed in Measuring Progress, that guilt is a double-edged sword that can actually lead to you getting less done.
There’s a better way. A way that you can feel excited about this opportunity.
You know that saved time and extra impact are the rewards at the end of your efforts. You can take pride in being the kind of person who gets things done. But you’ll feel that later – right now you have only the expectation of feeling good. Particularly if you’re not sure you’ll be happy with the result, that expectation of feeling good later isn’t always enough to make you want to start now. It feels better not to stare down the odds of failure and chose the best option.
But you can feel a sense of battle-ready competition against your work now. The cost of wasted motion isn’t a call to grimly push forward. It’s an opportunity - optimize your effort so that you win at your goals. Learn to love the challenge that opportunity presents. Enjoy the feeling of agency.
Now your mission is not just to get this task out of the way. Your mission is to slay this task with zero wasted motion.
These are positive emotions you feel at the moment you start. Don’t push through the dread of starting work because you have to discharge an obligation. Feel proud of efficiently starting and staying on task! Cut pseudo-work. Dive into work right away. Use the most effective techniques to do quality work quickly. Make every motion carry you toward your goal.
That sense of challenge and pride are the rewards that will make minute-to-minute prioritization a habit.
But it’s not easy. The steps above may seem simple. In one sense, they are. It’s simple to say that you can feel pride in getting your work done efficiently.
But we’re still monkeys. It’s hard to “just change” our minds. So cut yourself some slack if it takes a bit. Remind yourself of what you’re trying to accomplish. Look for opportunities to cut wasted motion, and feel proud when you find them. While you’re at it, spend some time learning how to be efficient. You can only notice opportunities to do better if you already know how to do better. So try learning about lean methods and deep work.
When you succeed, go enjoy slaying that goal with zero wasted motion.
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