What’s Best Next: Reducing to Get More Done

Whats Best Next -PermanAs we continue to make our way through Matt Perman’s book What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Zondervan, 2014), we move into the fifth main section of the book, called “Reduce,” which addresses the problem of cramming our schedule with so much – even good things – that we become unproductive in getting the best things done.

Here author Matt Perman introduces us to the “ringing effect”, which he explains this way:

Researchers have found that whenever most systems – such as airports, freeways, and other things – exceed about 90 percent capacity, efficiency drops massively. Not just slightly, but massively.

This is called the ‘ringing effect.’ The reason is that as a system nears its capacity, the effect of relatively small disturbances is magnified exponentially (pp.223-24).

And you may have anticipated this, but Perman mentions the simple example of highway traffic during rush hour, when the fella four miles ahead brakes a little. We have all experienced what this means for the flow of traffic – efficiency of travel is massively reduced – by one brake-ist!

And so we get this application to our work:

The ringing effect doesn’t just apply to traffic or airports. It applies to your projects and your organization as well. When all these small effects are cascading – ‘ringing’ – through your life and the organization, work is not getting done. Or perhaps better, useless work is being multiplied (p.224).

So what’s the answer? Just as with highway traffic during rush hour, the problem doesn’t go away until traffic is reduced. To increase productivity and efficiency (traffic flow), cars have to leave the highway. So for our work schedules:

…In order to get more projects done (and do them better and faster), you need to reduce the number of projects you are actually working on at once.

…Our default mode is to cram as many projects as possible into a given time frame. Resist this temptation. Everything will take longer, and you will discover death by the ringing effect. To get more done, so less, not more (p.225).

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Even though it seems contrary to sense at first and against our lives and schedules practically. There will be more on this from Perman, but for now we can learn from this basic point: better productivity, or getting the best things done, means reducing our work load and cutting the clutter out of our schedules.

Published in: on December 5, 2015 at 10:02 PM  Leave a Comment  

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