As we go through our day, we tend to repeat the same gestures or tasks over and over without realizing it.  If we have enough of those repetitive tasks in our day, they take over and we feel we have no time for anything else! Unfrotunately, because they're the kind of thing that evolves on and creeps up on us, we don't realize their importance until they become productivity sinkholes.

Productivity sinkholes steal time from us. They force us to do and redo the same thing many times. Why? Just because we never planned on these tasks to be required so often. Or because we feel it's faster to do the task than figure out a way to automate it.

And we're right: automating a task can be longer than doing it once. But if afterward it cuts the time to perform the task in half, we will be saving a lot more time down the road.

Here's an example. We used to create our quote by hand, in Microsoft Word. We had a basic template, but it required a lot of customization and there was a big checklist to use before we could send it. However, it didn't take that long to create the quotes, so we learned to live with it. That is, until we started getting more and more quotation requests. That's when we started feeling overwhelmed by the work required to put out the quotes. The problem needed to be fixed. Of course, building the quotation module took about as much time as creating 30 quotations with the old system. But now, 18 months later, it takes under 2 minutes to create a quote and send it. Everything is automated: pricing, contract clauses, etc.

This has 2 benefits for us:

  1. We save a lot time and aggravation when creating a quote.
  2. Less specialized knowledge it required to create the quotes. Thus, we can spread the work amongst ourselves.

What about you?

Which productivity sinkholes do you struggle against every day?