Taking a step back, for efficiency

I had a coworker who was always incredibly busy.

She would complain about how much work needed to be done.

I remember asking her about her day. And she would rattle off everything on her todo list.

One thing stood out. She mentioned how it took her 30 minutes to go grocery shopping every single day.

I looked at her and asked, “Wait, why are you shopping for groceries every single day?”

And she looked at me like I was crazy, like I was a idiot for asking. Her response, “How else am I supposed to eat?”


If you’re not paying attention, you’ll know that there’s absolutely NO REASON to go grocery shopping every day. Instead of spending 30 minutes shopping per day (3.5 hours a week), why not just spend 2 hours shopping per week?

You may be laughing at the whole concept, that she wasn’t able to step back and realize how inefficient her grocery shopping task is.

But let’s step back even further, and point the spotlight on you.

How often do you check email? Once an hour?

Let’s say it takes you 10 minutes to check email. That’s five minutes to check it, and five minutes to respond to people. In a work day, that’s roughly 80 minutes of checking email, or more than 1/8 of your work day. Not to mention the mental cost of resuming whatever you were working on.

If you took a step back, how could you make that more efficient? Maybe you check email once or twice a day. Maybe it’s time-blocking very specific times to check email.

I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.

Most recently attributed to Bill Gates. But we’ll never know.

Take a step back and review your own habits and todo lists. Batching tasks, and eliminating unnecessary work will open more time in your day, and even save your sanity.

Leave a Comment