Do You Take Time to Save Time?

Take Time to make time
Take Time to make time

I saw a great cartoon the other day. It was drawing of two cave men pushing a cart with square wheels. Another cave man is offering them round wheels to replace the square ones. To which they respond “No Thanks. We are too busy.”

It’s easy for us non-cave people to sit in our third person realities and ridicule this irrational behavior. But if you didn’t see yourself in it, you may be in a little denial.

As humans, we are usually victims of routine. We get into habits and don’t like to change them. I often catch myself doing things out of habit. If I step back and think about it, I may rethink my actions and figure out a better approach.

More often, this happens when someone else observes my behavior and asks, “Why are you doing it that way?”

I usually respond with something intelligent like, “Well that’s how I’ve always done it.”

Even after someone explains a simpler or more efficient way to do things, I sometimes resist. Even when people offer me round wheels, I like living in my comfort zone.

Taking a different approach to something usually involves additional thinking. If you drive the same way to work in the morning, you usually can do it without much thought. You habitually turn where you need to turn. You probably park in the same general area every day.

If someone tells you an alternate route that might be faster, you’re suddenly out of that comfort zone. You have to concentrate a little more on where and when to turn.

The same happens at work when we do something routinely. You may do it that way because it’s the easiest and most efficient way. But the situation may have changed. There may be a better way now.

Changing the way we do something often requires an investment in time as well. If we changed the wheels on the cart, we would have to stop what we’re doing, take the square wheels off and put the round ones on.

Sometimes I don’t feel like I have the time to invest doing all that work. But if I’m honest with myself, I’m probably just too lazy to change my ways.

I’ve caught myself doing intense manual work to make changes or find data in a large spreadsheet. And I’ve caught myself saying that there has to be an easier way.

I’ve had to force myself to investigate the many Excel commands that I’m not familiar with to find the easier way to do it. I not only find that easier way. But I also learn a new Excel function that I can use later. (I usually learn a couple of functions just finding the one that works best for that situation.)

Routine is generally good. It can make you more efficient when you can do things with little effort. But it’s important to frequently stop and analyze what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Is there a better way?

You might just find some round wheels.

Are you using square wheels anywhere?

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Related Posts
The Consultant’s Private Resume
We’re all familiar with the resume.  A document that “must” be (depending on who you ask) one or two pages.  It’s our primary sales and marketing tool for our career.  We list our ...
READ MORE
5 Things I Hate About Consulting
Since I wrote the first edition of Consulting 101 in 2010, an updated 2nd Edition this year, over 200 consulting-related blogs, and recording over fifty podcasts on Consulting and Professional ...
READ MORE
Consulting Fail: Burning Bridges
At one point in my career, I worked for a top tier consulting firm that was acquired by another firm.  As happens in just about any merger or acquisition, management announced ...
READ MORE
The Illusion of Control
I live what I believe to be a typical existence of a family man in the suburbs.  On a typical weekend, I’ll get together with friends, drink a few beers, ...
READ MORE
On Being Bold: Step on the Gas
A few years ago, I purchased a classic car – a 1975 Oldsmobile Delta 88 convertible.  It’s been a fun car to drive around town on nice summer days.  It’s ...
READ MORE
Why Utopia Is Unattainable
When I was younger, I remember having some definitions of what it meant to have it made. I’d drive by a nice home or watch a nice car go by and ...
READ MORE
Paying Your Dues for Success
I remember once when a manager at my client was promoted and was making that milestone move from cubicle to a private office.  This was a big career move and ...
READ MORE
10 Ways to Have More Efficient Days
I meet busy people all the time. They're the people who run from meeting to meeting. They're usually running late. They start a to-do list, but they usually don't finish ...
READ MORE
10 Ways to Have a Successful first Year of Consulting
The most common feedback I get from my book Consulting 101, or from this blog, comes from experienced consultants. Invariably, they say something like, "That's great advice. I wish I ...
READ MORE
7 Things to Do When a Project Ends
There comes a time in every consulting project when the project ends for a consultant, normally known as “rolling off”. Consultants are, by nature, temporary workers.  The end of the gig ...
READ MORE
The Consultant’s Private Resume
5 Things I Hate About Consulting
Consulting Fail: Burning Bridges
The Illusion of Control
On Being Bold: Step on the Gas
Why Utopia Is Unattainable
Paying Your Dues for Success
10 Ways to Have More Efficient Days
10 Ways to Have a Successful first Year
7 Things to Do When a Project Ends