The Milk Spills Everyday
How my multi-tasking resulted in poor productivity, increased waste and bad ROI
You may have heard the phrase “There is no use crying over spilled milk.” For three months in a row, I managed to spill milk almost every day. And even though I did not cry back then, it was the worse thing to start the day with.
Spilling of the milk early in the morning would trigger a series of events. Buddy, my dog, would get excited and start barking. He loves milk, and the milk that has found its way onto the kitchen platform would naturally end up in his doggie bowl. The barking would wake up my wife, who would give me an earful. I would naturally respond, and the morning would start off on a sour note. Then it was the kiss-and-make-up time, and I would make coffee for both of us. The bottomline is that less than a 1 minute of oversight on my part would result in half an hour of wasted time, not to mention wasted milk and the water and the tissues that were required for cleaning.
It all changed on day last month. That day was my wife’s birthday. That’s the day I went out for a run. In other words, I broke the routine. At first, it was very boring, doing just one task at at time. I began to think,” wouldn’t it be great if I could listen to my favorite podcasts or music, or maybe dictate some notes for my writing?” Then I saw that a woman who was running with me stopped abruptly. She spent a few moments fiddling with her phone, finally she took off the headphones and resumed her running, carrying her phone and the headphones in her hand. The phone’s battery had probably died. The result: what was once a great multi tasking tool became extra baggage for the primary task- running.
This incident made me realize that multi-tasking is not all that great as it is perceived to be. In my case, it was also the root cause for the milk that spills everyday. You see, I used the milk warming time to fill up the water bottles and stock them in the fridge. I would also check messages on facebook. And it was those crucial 30 seconds that make all the difference. 30 seconds of distraction wasting 30 minutes of my and my wife’s time. That is a 100 X ROI that nobody wants. Or 60 X, if you have to be mathematically accurate. From that day onwards, the milk got my undivided attention when I would warm it up on the stove. And thus began my mono-tasking experiment.
For the past month, I am focusing on doing one task at a time. And my productivity has improved significantly. My writing speed has improved by nearly 1000 words per hour. I am able to edit the podcast episodes in less than half the time it would take me earlier. My emails are more brief and to the point, which has resulted in a faster response rate to my mails. And Finally, the milk has spilled only once. That was this morning. And that, too, because my dog wanted me to play fetch with him. And that’s something that I had to do.
As entrepreneurs in a startup mode, time as well as money are our most scarce resources. Therefore, any amount of waste in unpardonable. My focus on one task at a time has helped in saving both time and money. And the impact on productivity has helped in transforming the negative ROI to a positive on.e