A 10-minute task blew out by 60% ... and I'm delighted!

I had a tiny task to do. I allowed myself 10 minutes. It took me 16. Totally worth it, because I'm going to make it lightning fast next time.

Here's how.

I used a Google Sheet to record the task and included a series of questions for myself.

What's the task ❓

Why does this need to be done ❓

Why does it make sense to do this task now ❓

How long do you estimate this will take ❓

What time did you start ❓[Tip: use a shortcut to insert the time.]

What time did you finish it ❓

How long did this take ❓[Use the spreadsheet formula to make the calculation]

How was this different from your estimate ❓[Use a formula]

What did you intend to do ❓

What did you actually do ❓

What distracted you from your original intention❓

What part of this task might you repeat in the next month ❓

What could you improve ❓

This may seem like a cumbersome process, but in fact, it has made me avoid repetitious work.

In my case, the task was arranging a builder to come and look at some minor work to our kitchen in our new house, so that our fridge will fit.

I sent the builder a calendar invitation, and I included:

  • the address of the new house (with a link to Google Maps)

  • the dimensions of the fridge (with a link to the manufacturer's website, including a link to the exact fridge model)

  • contact details of people who will be arranging access to the house

In simple terms, this shows: where, what and who.

Is this a repeatable task?

We're only getting our kitchen adjusted once, but by ensuring all the essential details are on the calendar event, I'm reducing the risk of:

  • back-and-forth with text messages

  • measuring up the fridge (still at the old address), and

  • having to look up fridge manufacturer information

  • or contact details for the person granting access.

So, this part is repeatable: the collating of essential information and putting it into a calendar entry.

That puts all parties on the same page, and gets the task on the calendar for everyone.

Anthony English