Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lost Opportunity Costs

One refrain I often hear is "how do you find the time to {insert activity here}...?" I have a few suggestions for your consideration.

Consider a few examples:

I consider driving to be a necessary nuisance. Sadly, I cannot find a better way to go from point A to point B when I can't fly or take the train. What I do not do, is enjoy going for a sight-seeing drive, what families in the olden days called "going for a Sunday drive." That was probably when cars were just a novelty for the well-heeled. I prefer the train to driving, as I can do something - anything - while I am on the train, whether relaxing, working on my laptop, or reading a book. The train almost always beats out the car, unless I have a ton of gear, or a schedule that doesn't work for the train.

I do not take take the scenic route, I use my GPS to find the fastest way between my departure point and my destination. If I can save 10 minutes on a trip, I will, as that is 10 minutes that I can be doing something else with. If I want to enjoy the scenery, I will stop to take it in, not glance at it going 55 down the road through a bug-splattered windshield.

These nominal times, 5 minutes saved here, 10 minutes there, accumulate to upwards of an hour or two a day, 10 to 14 hours a week. What would you do if you had an extra day every week available to you? I suppose, a whole lot.

A book I read back in college remains on my must read list over there on the right What They Don't Teach You in Harvard Business School, where the author talks about time saving. He writes, in page 211:

I pretty well know how long it takes me to do or slow restaurants...the fastest elevators in certain short, I try to be very precise about everything that by it's nature is imprecise. My mind is a catalog of "quick cuts" which allow me to reduce the time-wasting vagueness of certain activities, or avoid them altogether.
You do this when travelling when you say "don't fly through Chicago in the winter, you'll be delayed", but do you apply this same mentality to the smaller time savers in life? McCormack goes on to suggest:
As a general rule for getting things done the quickest, do the things that everyone else has to do at the times everyone else isn't doing them. I leave so early in the morning that getting to work is never a problem. But I've heard others complain about rush hour traffic, then admit that if they'd left 20 minutes earlier it could have been avoided... Ninety percent of wasting time and standing in line can be eliminated with a little preplanning and some common sense.
Of equal value is how, by investing in the fastest computer processor, you can save on post-production time, or, as a stop-gap solution, set up and run a batch action of all your CPU-intensive processes just before you go to sleep or leave your office.

The fine folks who work with and for me in my office - my Office Manager and Post Production Manager were out on a big shoot with me, along with another assistant. That third assistant forgot one of my camera batteries back in the office, and the logistics of the day required the OM and PPM to go back to the office together to get it, causing them to each loose an hour of their productivity because they were running around being non-productive, fixing an oversight, when they could have been resuming their duties. As a result, their duties were delayed by an hour-plus, and, since I pay these folks on an hourly basis, I lost a good chunk of change in lost productivity, because someone wasn't paying attention. This frustrated me to no end.

By continuing to review your efficiencies means you can improve your own productivity. If you think this is overkill, feel free to go back to your oven and give up the microwave, cancel your TiVo, don't buy 133x cards since your 45x cards will do just fine, oh, and don't waste your money on high-speed internet - dialup is all you really need!
Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Newer Post Older Post