21st Century Dad
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Time Management: Barely Sufficient is Enough

March 6th, 2009 . by 21st Century Dad

Photo: judepics

Time, just like money, is a resource that must be managed properly. Time is the great equalizer. While there is no limit to the amount of money you can amass, there is a limit to the amount of time we have. We each have the same 24 hours each day, yet why do some people accomplish more?

When you start plugging the holes in your budget, you start to see the holes in your day.”Oh, I’ll just run to the store and pick it up,” turns into “I didn’t realize it takes 40 minutes just to buy a stick of butter!”

Getting In to a Scrum

One way I plug the leaks in my schedule is to employ the principle of “barely sufficient.” It’s a term I came to know while spending time with some software developers using Scrum at their workplace.

The idea behind “barely sufficient” is to do enough to be effective without compromising the end result. It is not permission to slack off and turn in a sub-standard performance. Adolescence may be a little early to introduce this concept to your children.

  • It takes longer to use a label maker than it does to hand-write one neatly. The printed label is prettier, but the hand-written one performs the intended function adequately.
  • Have you ever tried to design, print, and apply an adhesive label to a CD-R or DVD-R? Isn’t it a royal pain? Those blank CDs and DVDs you can print on directly do a little better. However, they often run on proprietary software that is difficult to use. For presentation purposes, it’s perfectly OK to go the extra mile. But for your own archiving and backup, a water-based marker made for writing on CDs is fine. (You do not want to use a solvent-based permanent marker. This will corrupt the data on the disc).

Some tasks do need to be performed with a degree of precision while other do not.  All process improvements eventually reach a point of diminishing returns. It takes experience to determine what that point is.

Recurring Tasks

“Barely sufficient” can also apply to the frequency of a recurring task:

  • Do you really need to wash your car every week or is every-other-week OK?
  • I maintain a closely cropped buzz cut instead of shaving my head. I can maintain the buzz cut by clipping my hair every other week while a slick chrome dome takes almost daily attention. A buzz cut is the least expensive hairdo to maintain in terms of time and money.

You can think of “barely sufficient” as the trade-off between speed and accuracy. You can also think of it as being frugal with your time. Just as you find where to trim the budget, you can find where to trim the time it takes to perform tasks. Save your “going the extra mile” efforts for those times when it’s truly necessary. Do baseball players sprint to first base after getting walked? “Barely sufficient” tactics will still accomplish your overall strategy.

What “barely sufficient” methods do you employ?