Many years ago, a coworker (yes, I used to be employed by someone other than myself!) shared with me her view on why grocery shopping is so inefficient. Here is what typically happens;
1. You put a grocery item in your shopping cart
2. Take the item from the cart and put it on the conveyer belt at the register
3. Put the item into a grocery bag and back in your cart
4. Take the bag from your cart and put it in your car
5. Take the bag from your car and into your house
6. Take the item from the bag and put it in your fridge
You’ve just touched that gallon of milk 6 times and you haven’t even used it yet!
Now think about how many other things in life we touch over and over and over again. This doesn’t have to be physical objects, it might be an idea or a to-do. Think about writing a to-do list… you think of what needs doing, you write it on the list, you eventually do it, and you cross it off your list. Why not just [make the phone call, take out the trash, balance the checkbook] right when you think about it?
Think about money. Many people pay for things with a credit card, then pay-off the card each month. How many times are you ‘touching’ that same money? Why not just pay with your debit card, or cash?
John has a similar philosophy of trying to ‘automate’, and outsource, as many things as possible. This may be in the form of automatic BillPay in your eBanking, hiring a landscaper to plow on snowy mornings, and using various domestic services (laundry, cleaning, accounting, etc).
It may cost more up-front, but it serves two very important functions.
1. You don’t have to think about things, they just get done. How nice to know the bills are paid, leaves are raked, clothes are pressed and all you have to do is focus on your work and major life-responsibilities.
2. You don’t have to stop what you do best to do something that you have only mediocre skills to accomplish. Case in point, if your kitchen sink is leaking, call a plumber! He/she will come in, know how to fix it and have the right tools. Sure it will cost you money, but for you to stop working, round up the necessary tools, identify the problem and then attempt to fix it, you’ll spend twice as long and it still may not even be done right. Isn’t your time better spent doing what you know best? Since time = money, how much is your time worth?
Strive to streamline! Only touch a project once, automate tasks and outsource to professionals to simplify, save time, and ultimately save money.