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Better efficiency through laziness

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It’s great if you’re naturally efficient, but being smart and lazy is easier.

When I left Woodshop News almost 10 years ago, incoming editor Tod Riggio remarked that the transition went smoothly because my efficient file system made taking the reins a lot easier. He had no trouble finding anything or figuring out what something was. But the joke was on him: I’m not efficient at all, just lazy. And, being smart enough to realize this I make lazy work for me.

I avoid extra work like the plague, which is why I tend to catalog and slap labels on just about everything in both my woodshop and office. File folders are cheap, so if I have something that will be important later with bookkeeping or taxes, I create a folder. It takes about 15 seconds to do this, but can save a lot of time later when I need whatever it is – I can go right to it. Sharpie markers are also cheap, and I have a dozen in the shop that I use to mark everything. Parts bins, containers of specific cutoffs or turning blanks, or a cardboard box on a shelf holding odds and ends, a few seconds with a Sharpie marker now can save hours later. Sometimes after cutting a piece of stock I’ll measure what’s left and mark the dimensions on the end of the board – saves an incredible amount of effort later when looking for stock of a certain size.

Sure, I’m still famous for losing things in the woodshop, but invariably that happens when I’m too lazy to take the time to label something and I always pay for it later. As a result I try to opt for the lesser of two lazys: If I’m a little less lazy right now, I can enjoy a whole barrel of lazy later.

I mentioned at the beginning that for all of this to work you have to be both smart and lazy, and that’s so you can tell the difference between lazy and procrastination. Unfortunately, I can also tend toward the latter. However, because I’m smart I’ve made lazy work for me in a positive way, and run a more efficient shop as a result. And that’s something I can point to with pride.

That procrastination stuff, I’ll deal with later.



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