Just do it NOW.

(or What I Learned From Observing My Wife)

I thought I was being smart. See, I figured if I just waited for a while, their would be less effort spent on doing the dishes. You can pile them all up in one spot, and then you can batch-process the whole lot. And the clean dishes in the dishwasher? if you need ’em, just take them straight out of there–saving the time of putting them away at all. As long as you put the food away, the dishes are more easily done once per day (maybe even once every TWO days). Work like a madman for 45 minutes and whambam you’re done.

Except it isn’t really all that pleasant. That means that there’s nearly always nasty crusty dishes lying in your sink, taking up the space you might have used to fill your water cup. That special long-handled spoon that you bought in Europe to get jam out of the jarĀ  is underneath the frying pan, covered in chicken grease. There’s no clean coffee cups. And the kitchen, a place that normally is for visiting and for “being family” in is transformed to a barely functional food storage, a place to enter when rumbling tummies or whining children demand, and to exit again as soon as possible.

It’s amazing what changes when Rebecka, my wife of seven years, is around. She doesn’t wait to put things in the dishwasher. She doesn’t stop to do a full motion-study of just how the dishes need to go from left to right to save three motions. She doesn’t wait until the floor is really dirty before she sweeps. She’s constantly in motion, patting here with a cloth, sweeping there with a broom, and dishing steakpans and coffeecups while they’re still warm.

And the kitchen is cozier because of it.

When considering individual tasks, my way is better–it takes less effort. But looking at our family life as a whole, as a system, it’s clear that her method is superior.

And then it hit me–this is exactly what I want in my business, for me and my customers. I want the work done when it is right in front of us. Let us strike when the iron is hot, even if it seems like more work. While allowing for periods of concentration, deal with that email when it comes in, the first time you read it. Don’t let that customer lead get stale. Don’t allow that expense report to go un-reported. Update the bank reconciliation more than once a month. Bill your customers every day, not every 30 days. Assign somebody to the Firemans’ seat, where their job is to respond to customer requests within 5 minutes. Take phone calls instead of just returning them.

I’ve been batch processing too long, and the smell of the chicken grease is starting to get to me.