Most of us have been there. You’ve got a busy week ahead of you, full to the brim with big projects. Inevitably, though, someone asks if you can, “Do this one little thing real quick.” You take a few minutes to do so. After all, what’s the harm?

Then another “little thing” pops up. And another. Like cockroaches, they multiply and creep into your schedule where they’re not welcome. Of course, you dealt with one, so now you’re obligated to deal with them all. Before you know it, though, entire swaths of time are being devoted to the “little things.” In horror, you realize too late that the “little things” have swarmed and devoured your big projects.

A classical example of being held down by little things

This begs the question: If “little things” can topple big projects, how can we think of them as “little” at all?

The answer should be obvious. “Little things” are a myth. Like the computer guy, it’s a term we use to simplify a complex business reality. We call a task “little” to trivialize it out of our minds.

But time is a finite resource, and each “little thing” eats a small piece of it. More importantly, these pieces can add up to big chunks, days even, if you’re not careful.

The only solution is to kill every “little thing” you see. Stamp them out wherever they appear. “Fumigate” your office by performing regular kaizen sessions. Do whatever it takes to eliminate the need for “little things” or include them in proper projects.

This post is dedicated to everyone who thinks “little things” aren’t a big problem for productivity. May you learn better before the “little things” get you. 😉

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