I had an appointment this morning and was driving on the highway this morning, at the end of rush hour. There was still plenty of traffic. At that time the road was still busy, but there was more space between the cars.
One guy swerved in and out, trying to get past the clump of cars we were both in. I stayed in my lane and tried to maintain a constant speed. You know what happened—we both got off the same exit at the same time. He was the car in front of me.
I see this in projects all the time. The manger waits too long to start the project. Or, people start the work too late, a form of Student Syndrome. That delay puts the people under pressure to finish faster, and the people take all kinds of shortcuts that may or may not work to speed up the project.
I don’t know if this guy waited too long to leave the house, or if he thought it would take less time, or what. Maybe he had a crazy morning with kids or cars or something. I’ve had those! Sometimes, the swerve-around-other-car thing works. Less often, in my experience.
That got me thinking. Why do we rush? Do we believe we can “make up” time if we try to go faster.
I have never made up time. I have managed—rarely—to not lose more time for the thing I want to finish. I often find that the act of trying to go faster—the rushing—makes me go slower. I forget to write something down, or I forget step 2, or some other shortcut causes me to increase my delay.
I started to do something after I had vertigo: If I know I’m late, I deliberately take a little time, sometimes as little as a few seconds, to create a mental checklist. Sometimes, I make a real list, so I can see if I’ve forgotten something.
If you are familiar with Boyd’s OODA loop, that’s the Orient step, where you take your current reality and feed that into what you want to accomplish so you can generate options.
I don’t take a ton of time. Sometimes, that time is a few seconds. Sometimes, it’s a few minutes.
Since everything takes me longer (that dizzy broad thing), I tend to give myself more time to get into the car. That translates into having more time to drive places. Oh, traffic can still surprise me. I’m getting better at not having to rush my drives. And, I try to take this approach to every project I have in my life. It works a lot. It doesn’t work all the time.
That, my adaptable problem solvers, is the question this week: Why the rush?
- What’s the Simplest Thing You Can Do?
- Are You Asking for a Not?