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Working efficiently

Every now and then, you get a chance to watch someone work who really knows what they are doing. There are two things that inevitably stand out.

The first is how easy it looks. It does not matter if you are watching a master tradesman or a virtuoso musician. The other is that they seem to make use of every motion. The work flows smoothly and there is never a wasted movement.

That first thing is just an illusion. I always think of the time I saw the great blues musician, Johnny Shines. He sat down, played a vicious riff on the guitar and after the howls of approval and applause died down, he smiled and said, "It’s easy, if you know how".

But the efficiency of movement? That's a whole different kettle of fish. Of course, knowing what you are doing is a great help here. But it's more about focusing on the task at hand.

I recently watched a guy in the process of assembling a project. All of the parts were made and the whole thing should have been no more than two hours work. But he spent the first 15 minutes looking for a pencil. Then a buddy dropped in and another 20 minutes went down the drain. Bottom line is that after two hours had passed, he had barely started the job.

If this guy is bidding his jobs, he's losing his behind. And if he's working by the hour, his customer is losing theirs.


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