You know those days when you need something done and it isn’t happening as quickly as you would like? You need a reply to an e-mail quickly (try the phone, but hey-ho) but you haven’t received it? You’re on hold with someone or some company and you really need to be elsewhere? You need a piece of kit but the quartermaster is out of the office? That kind of thing.
The generic term for someone or something that is getting in the way of your productivity is Bottleneck. The stasis created by the other person involved in the transaction is preventing you from moving forward. Naturally, this disappoints or frustrates you – they mean different things – and you’re inclined to tell the world that X is preventing you progressing on something. They are your reason for the delay.
And do you know what?
I’m willing to be a week’s wages that somewhere, somebody is saying exactly the same thing about you. Somebody is likely explaining to a third party that they have sent you a memo/e-mail/letter and they can’t move until you reply, and therefore YOU are the bottleneck. And experience tells me that the bottleneck is sitting in your work tray begging to be answered but, in the moment, the five minutes it will likely take feel like the longest interruption to your day that you have ever received.
I’m guilty. Or at least I used to be. I’d look at an overly-long and pernickety demand from a retired-detective file-vetter, and put off working on it for as long as I could.*
That was until I discovered that – brace yourself for some serious wisdom here – I didn’t have to do everything on the memo at once. Instead of treating the memo as ‘A BIG THING’ I treated it as a ‘LIST OF SMALL THINGS’, none of which was as onerous as ‘THE BIG THING’ appeared to be. And in no time at all the little things were addressed in two-minute bursts, the memo was returned and a bottleneck was opened again.
Some things will take time, I realise that. But it’s our procrastination that annoys others as much as they procrastination of others, annoys us.
Try and remember that how you feel is how others feel if the situations were reversed, and act with respect for that reality when considering how much less of a bottleneck you can be. If you’re not freeing up your own bottleneck, you can surely be freeing someone else’s, and that freedom might just serve you later on.
The bottleneck you free me from, allows me to serve you, faster.
None of us lives and works in the vacuum we think we do. We all have bugs on our backs, biting us. Even the bugs have bugs.
Don’t be a Bottleneck while moaning about how long other people are taking to do what you need done. It’s hypocrisy, is that.
*Oddly, when I went from PC to DC, the pernickety requests lessened. And the requests were expressed in more polite terms. And on one occasion, said file-vetter wrote out all my charges for me. How elitist.