I blogged a few weeks ago on what Taco Bell teaches us about how to define and manage your next actions. Here’s another lesson from Taco Bell.
When you get up to the cash register (whether at Taco Bell or any fast food restaurant), it is interesting to note that the person taking your order and the person making your food are different.
Why is that relevant? Because if the same person had to do both, it would slow everything down. You would have to wait twice as long to get your food (probably longer, due to the costs of switch tasking), and the line would grow — frustrating everyone.
Here’s the problem: When it comes to productivity, most of us are both cashier and chef. We both have to receive and process the new input (cashier) and produce the results (chef). The time spent capturing and processing new input takes time away from delivering results. Sometimes, this can be substantial.
In fact, the amount of time that processing new input takes away from delivering results is larger than simply the time it takes to do the processing. The switch in mindsets from handling new stuff to focusing on delivering results creates a cost of its own. This can be minimized by making sure that you process new input in batches rather than continuously throughout the day. But it cannot be removed entirely.
What’s the solution? Unfortunately, I don’t have a complete one yet. There may not be one. Proper use of an assistant, for those fortunate enough to have one, is part of the answer but cannot solve the whole story. Batching the processing task is another, but again that is not a complete solution. Having an effective system in place and being efficient with it is a third component. But again, none of these totally solve the issue: the time (and energy — that’s huge) that you have to deliver results is decreased by the amount of time that you have to spend processing new input.
Maybe a skillful application of these three partial solutions is the best we can do. What are your thoughts?
In the meantime, if you need inspiration, just take a trip to Taco Bell.