When time-hacking breaks down

Published on
August 24, 2015
Chris Taylor
"Ideas are only valuable when applied."
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We were joining a group hike last weekend, and we were running late. Madly scrambling around the house getting our supplies organized (it was a full day hike), I was tasked with filling the water bottles. I turned on the tap at full blast and put the narrow openings of the bottle under it in an attempt to fill them as quickly as possible.

If you’ve ever tried to pour fast moving water into a narrow opening, you know what happens. The bottle fills up about half way, and then the pressure, combined with the lack of air in the bottle forces any incoming fluids back out the top. Water gets wasted and the bottle refuses to fill. The only solution? Turn down the tap and let the water pour in more slowly. A few seconds later the bottle is filled to the top, and you’re ready for your hike.

A lot of our work related activities act in the same way. Simply giving the task everything you’ve got; as quickly and forcefully as possible doesn’t achieve the desired result. Resources get wasted, you get frustrated, and the task remains half finished.

The trouble with the big focus on “time hacking” these days is the lack of discrimination. I’m all for efficiency, when appropriate, but sometimes you need to ease up to accomplish the task. The most effective pace doesn’t always mean the fastest.