Does Efficiency Really Lead to Productivity?

Posted on June 15, 2012 by eelengchang | 0 Comments

Since starting up Hooby Groovy, I've become increasingly interested in and aware of methods of increasing my productivity. Running my own business where I am both the boss and the minion and a day is still just 24 hours means that I want to be making sure every little bit of time is used to its full potential. Which is a really tough feat for a natural-born procrastinator like myself. I know and accept the fact that I will procrastinate and I will get side-tracked so during the times when I am working, it had better be making up for all the times I get distracted. 

A huge chunk of my time is taken up by manufacturing my products. Over the past couple of years, I've developed a steady process for each and if not for the fact that sharp objects like sewing machine needles, rotary cutters and scissors come into play, I could probably do it in my sleep. On a completely different note, lately I've been obsessed with thinking what if I get my finger caught in my sewing machine needle?? to the point where when I'm really tired and not quite in a right state of mind, I'm almost tempted to see if its possible! I've always chickened out of it though..., manufacturing processes! If I were to use a Panda iPhone Case as an example, this cute cuddly little thing is actually made up of 18 different components that need to be assembled together, in other words there are 18 linear steps in assembling one case. If I had to make 20 Panda iPhone Cases, the most efficient way to do it is to do Step 1 twenty times before moving onto Step 2. So 20 closure tabs, then 20 pockets, then 20 so and so forth. By doing 20 of the same tasks in a row, I eliminate the additional times spent on what I call the in-between stuff. Like changing thread colours, or measuring up a certain part, or marking a location on where to sew a particular piece. These in-between tasks may only cost me mere seconds or at the most a minute or two, but across 18 steps and 20 cases, it all adds up to quite a bit of time. 

So, that is the brute force most efficient way of working that will technically save the most time. 

Now, I said technically and therein lies the problem. You see, I've tried doing it this way before, many times actually because in my brain I know that this is the most efficient, time-saving way to manufacture my cases. However, time and time again I end up actually wasting more time and more crucially, it makes me want to tear my eyeballs out with a spoon! 

Step 1 always goes very well. I make good time, I'm happy and smiling and singing along to my iPod at the top of my lungs. Step 2 goes...alright. I still get it done in a reasonable time. Step 3, after about 3 or 4 times of doing Step 3, I start thinking about whether I have a new email, or that I never answered my sister's message about some random thing, or that I haven't checked on the couple of farming games that I'm currently playing. So I do all those things, then I get back to Step 3, a few minutes later I start feeling like a cup of tea so I take a break. Then I get back to Step 3, well I look at the pieces that I have to sew and then I start thinking of doing other things...well you get the idea. Somehow I do power through it and get it done but not without a whole lot of wasted time. 

But then after that, there's Step 4 to get through! Just thinking of Step 4 is way too overwhelming, because after Step 4 comes Step 5! And the end of the road where I get 20 cute Panda iPhone Cases is looking extremely far and tiny and unreachable and it's mocking me! You can't catch me, nyeh nyeh nyeh! And that mental state right there brings the whole production line crashing down. Because I look back on all those hours that I've spent going from Step 1 - 4 and I see a whole lot of miscellaneous bit and pieces of a Panda but no Panda! And I know there's not going to be a Panda for a long, long, loooong time! Which is really demoralising because I've worked so hard and so long and it feels like there's nothing to show for it and I've gotten nowhere at all. 

Of course the logical part of my brain consoles me by telling me that I've done a whole heap and that I have saved so much time and yadda yadda. But the other parts of my brain are too busy weeping to hear any of that. 

And so there it is. The most efficient way of manufacturing my cases is the bestest, most time-saving way...if I was a robot or a factory machine. Unfortunately, I'm not and my brain with all its emotions and mental stamina gets in the way. 



So, I've found that the most productive way to make these cases are one at a time. Because that requires just enough time that I can concentrate and focus and power through it before I'm tired and need a mental break. But most importantly, I can see that I've completed something and the next thing doesn't seem to daunting after all. 

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