One of the problems with being accessible to other people is the constant interruptions they can provide. If I lived in a cave without a mobile phone or laptop and could focus in purely on tasks that need completing I can only imagine the huge levels of shiznit I could get done in a day.
But I do not live in a cave. I live in the world. And we all struggle with interruptions these days, don’t we? I hope so, I hope it is not just me. But for me interruptions cause a specific problem – the half done job.
I’ll give you a specific example so this makes better sense. Every piece of stock in our workplace has a home, and if we take the extra moment to put it back home when we’re done with it, we’ll know where it is the next time we need it.
Most of our stock has two parts – the canvas, and the kit. The kit contains vital sparkly parts without which the canvas cannot be completed. All our kits are put away in alphabetical order into storage compartments, like this –
One day a customer had asked me to show them the sparkly parts of a kit. It was the last one we had in stock. I went and grabbed it, showed it to them, and then they chose to buy something else. So the sparkly parts got put down somewhere. When someone else wanted to buy that kit, I couldn’t find the sparkly parts and for the life of me I could not remember what I had done with them.
Whenever I can’t find the sparkly parts, I search for a while hoping I will find it. After a bit I get frustrated and even though I know I am going to be mocked and snarked endlessly I ask The Other Half for help. And he always says “Half a job”. And the worst part is he is right.
Eventually we did find that missing part sitting on top of the mailing bench but it took far more time than it should have – and this was not the first time it had happened.
I don’t always have time in the moment to consider the future time when I will be looking for this thing. I need to deal with the customer who is here on the spot and I don’t want to stop and think about putting things back in their home in that exact moment. But I also needed a new plan. And thus, the no half measures box was born. Can you see it in the photo above?
In Breaking Bad, Mike tells a story of a time he took a half measure.
Mike tells Walt a story from his time as a police officer, when he confronted a chronic wife abuser . Mike intervened, and almost killed the wife-beater, but gave in when the abuser promised to change his ways. Shortly thereafter the man beat his wife to death. Mike’s mistake was to take a half measure when he should have taken a full one. “No more half measures, Walter,” he says.from the Breaking Bad Wiki.
Out of all the characters in Breaking Bad, Mike is one of my favourites. And now Mike sits on the mailing bench reminding me never to do half a job – this box is where things go in the moment when I don’t have the time to put them back where they belong – and every so often when I have the time I can go through it and put things back where they live.
The fish tank is a story for another post. :)