On our podcast, “The Faster, Easier, Better Show” my co-host and I are starting a series that includes lessons learned (on efficiency) from Firefighters, Administrative Professionals, and Restauranteurs. Here’s a few of the tips we discovered.
What if we all woke up and slid down a pole into our outfit and our work for the day and equipment was all laid out and ready to go? In all seriousness, what we can do is simplify our systems (if we have one) to make getting going quicker with the least amount of steps and distractions so we hit the ground running. Another thing we can borrow from firefighters is the fact that they constantly clean and check their tools. Many of us (or our family, friends, or co-workers) put things away dirty or broken (with dead batteries, a dull blade, or a glitch). Time spent maintaining our equipment is time well spent.
As someone who’s mother was a former executive assistant, I’ve seen how attention to detail, a can-do attitude, and left-brain thinking are superpowers. I’ve also witnessed amazing feats of resourcefulness, herculean efforts to meet unrealistic deadlines (not of their making) and an innate ability to work well under pressure. How do they do it? For one thing, they embrace technology (regardless of their age). They also work smart. They automate when possible, and save and reuse things like letters and forms as templates to save time and energy. They are meticulous and believe in triple checking things so they don’t have to be redone due to a mistake. Lastly, since they work for a boss (or bosses) they know to leave white space in their schedule in case they are asked to drop everything and deal with an unexpected project.
There is so much we can learn from eateries and those that work there, I’ll skip the preamble and just jump right in. On those restaurant makeover shows on TV one common problem with failing restaurants is they have too many different items on their menu. The reasoning is, the more you offer the more ingredients you have to order and the more tools you need. Instead, focus on what you do best, what people like and want, and what’s most profitable. (Think: In and Out Burger.) Or, being able to use the same ingredients to create different dishes makes sense. (Italian restaurants can use the same sauce for a dozen different dishes.) Tools that do more than one thing also save time, and make the utensils you use the most, the easiest to get to. (I just saw a commercial for something called a Spurtle, a spatula / spoon / does-everything cooking tool. I ordered one. Just sayin’.)