It’s normal to ask this question in the context of focused perfomance improvement. A fancy, official sounding phrase, commonly used in athletics or in business. Where time is the metric that is used most often. How do I run faster? Or make more boxes in a given length of time?
But we rarely ask this question of ourselves in our daily life. Whether its laundry, cooking, gardening, doing a bank rec, watching your expenses, exercise, diet, cutting the grass, laundry or whatever activity you engage in, we tend to always be in the “doing” mode. Where we give little thought to small inconveniences while “doing”. Accepting them as part of the work to be completed. Always assuming that inconvenience is inherent in the work we do.
Even less noticed, are the many ways we approach these simple tasks depending on the day, our mood, and/or schedule. We tend to be inconsistent in our approach to a great deal of our work. Professional AND personal. This leads to many/different inconveniences along the way as well. Many that we deal with over and over without any resolution.
Just stopping to think about this question “how can I do this better” sets us on the path of observation and reflection. Inherent in it is the possibility for change. Bringing to focus the need for change. Discovering a better way to do something is always possible. Making this discovery a new routine. Leading to easier completion with less frustration along the way. Creating time without ever focusing on it directly.
But what tools can we use? Creating rules can be helpful. All the pots and pans need to be washed and dried before starting to prepare a new meal. I will separate the white clothes as I collect them before taking them to be washed.
Receiving too many newsletters by email that I have a casual interest in, that never need a response, became a nuisance. I used to open them every day but not read them. So I took the time to set up rules in Gmail to mark them as read immediately upon arrival in my in box. After a week or so, I now only have mostly unopened emails that need my attention.
Rules can then lead to steps. Do this first then that. Every time. No deviation. Quickly this becomes habit. While rules and steps seem cumbersome to think through and set up, things do become easier once you follow them without thinking about them as this new process becomes habit.
Rules, steps and routine then lead to standardization. Leading to less deviance of approaches regardless of mood or schedule. Minimizing inconveniences along the way making everything easier. Making our work simpler and easier. Giving us back a few minutes here and there during our day with a smile.
The illustration above reminds us that every day can present us with a time for change. Never in a sensational way worthy of an Instagram post. But much more effective as it always the small things in life that make the biggest difference. Where believing this will become embedded in you, the more you practice.