Motion Economy Saves Money, Energy and Time
SHE had just returned from shopping when her glance fell upon the unmailed letter lying on the table. “Oh, I forgot the letter again! It should have been mailed yesterday!” Slightly irritated, mostly at herself for having forgotten, she headed back to the post office before it closed. “Such a waste of money, energy and time,” she thought.
Of course, we can forgive anyone for being forgetful. But in the business world efficiency experts try to avoid this kind of waste by eliminating unnecessary movement. Their goal is to accomplish more in less time with less energy and at less cost. This is called “motion economy.” A few examples may illustrate how the same principle can be applied in daily life.
The person who plans ahead has a definite advantage over the one who hastily rushes into things without planning. The unplanned, do-it-on-the-spur-of-the-moment technique can be costly.
A housewife, for example, who plans meals for an entire week at a time does not have the daily worry of “what shall I cook today?” and does not have to make continual trips to the store. A weekly shopping list enables her to buy many of her needs at least several days ahead of time. Fewer shopping trips mean a saving in money, energy and time.
Plan ahead if you are undertaking a project you have never done before, like wallpapering your living room. Face up to the fact that because you are a beginner, it may cost you more than the usual amount of time and nervous energy. Ask the advice of experienced persons; let them warn you about mistakes to avoid.
Before beginning, ask yourself: “Do I have sufficient time to finish what I am starting? Do I have all the necessary materials and tools? Are my tools in good repair?” Much energy can be wasted by struggling with tools not working properly.
Also ask yourself: “Do I have enough money to carry the project through to completion?” The Bible, at Luke 14:28, reasons: “Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it?” What a waste of money to start a project one is financially unable to finish!
Planning ahead is also important when moving into a new home. Jot down on the outside of the cartons and packing crates the room where the furniture movers should put them: kitchen, bedroom, living room, and so forth. Then you will not have to drag heavy boxes from room to room when unpacking.
Decide beforehand how to arrange the furniture. You might draw a floor plan to scale, showing the various rooms of your new home, including where the doors and windows are located; then cut out scale models of your furniture. Move the paper models around on the floor plan to determine the most practical solution. It is much easier and quicker to do this than it would be to move the furniture itself. This can even save you money, because excessive movement of furniture can damage it, not to speak of the floor or carpet.
Thinking ahead involves more than just planning ahead. By mapping out the route he wants to follow, a car driver has planned ahead. But has he thought ahead? Has he carefully compared the time, expense and energy the various routes will require? One route, although shorter, could, because of heavy traffic or because of being a poor road, turn out to be the more costly, more time-consuming and more dangerous. Thinking ahead also includes not planning a schedule too tight, but allowing leeway for unforeseen occurrences.
Learn not to procrastinate, because as the 18th-century English poet Edward Young said: “Procrastination is the thief of time.” Also of energy and money. Let us take an example. While dressing, you discover a loose button. Do you sew it on immediately, or at least remove it and put it in a safe place until you can? Or are you the type of person that lets it hang—quite literally—until it one day drops off and is lost? Now what? After looking and failing to find an exact replacement, you may end up buying a complete new set of buttons. You have wasted money, energy and time. Similarly, costly and time-consuming car or house repairs can be avoided by taking action as soon as a need is recognized and before it becomes more serious.
Keep Things in Their Proper Place
“Where are my glasses?” “Did someone take my pencil?” “I can’t find my keys!” Sound familiar? The good habit of keeping things in their proper place will help you to find them quickly and easily. It will also save you the possible embarrassment of pointing a finger of blame at someone innocent of any wrongdoing.
The secret of a well-organized office lies in filing papers in such a way that you can find them quickly when needed. The same principle holds true for a well-organized household. But a word of caution! A thing’s proper place is always its logical place.
A thing’s proper place is also its most practical place. Often-needed objects would best not be kept at the bottom of a drawer or at the back of a cupboard, but in a more easily reached spot. What good are your tools if they are hidden away under boxes in the attic?
Make the Best Use of Time
The expression “time is money” conveys the thought that time is valuable. This has always been true. The apostle Paul told first-century Christians that they should not be wasting time on unproductive things, but should be “buying out the opportune time” for doing fine works.—Eph. 5:16.
Do not waste time studying, for example, when you are so tired that you cannot concentrate. Choose an occasion when you can get the most out of it, when you can study free from disturbances and distractions.
Another way to make the most of your time is to arrange to perform a task at one stretch, rather than in installments. Instead of spending several evenings wall-papering your living room, why not do the job on a weekend when you can work one or two days without interruption? Think of the time and effort you will save, not having to repeat each evening the same procedure of changing into work clothes, getting equipment and materials ready, and afterward clearing away the debris and washing up.
Learn to Do Several Things at Once
An efficient housewife can do several things at once. While waiting for a cake to finish baking or meat to finish frying, for example, she will be preparing a salad, or perhaps even doing her ironing or house cleaning.
Learn from her. Try to combine less productive pursuits with productive ones. Turn the inactivity of waiting (at the doctor’s office or elsewhere), for example, into activity by reading constructive literature. This will save you the time of reading it later. Combine the passive activity of traveling, especially by bus, train or plane, with reading.
When reading or performing some other activity is impractical, then use the time to meditate. Mentally jot down the tasks you need to do and determine the best way of going about performing them. Keep a note pad handy to jot down any ideas. Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses, when engaged in working at some activity, listen to cassette tape recordings of Bible books provided for just such listening.
Of course, doing two things at once is not always feasible, or advisable. Be particularly careful when working on machines. Activities of this nature in most cases deserve undivided attention. Trying to read a road map while driving may save you time, but it could cost you something much more valuable—your life or another’s life!
The Need for Balance
Since motion economy can save you money, energy and time, ask yourself: “Can I cut out unnecessary work and movement?” Do not be afraid to change your way of doing things. Of course, if you are working under another person’s supervision, it would be wise to discuss any major change in work habits with him to make sure that the change is really practical. It may be that experience has shown it to be otherwise.
Above all, be balanced in this matter of motion economy. Do not become a perfectionist, irritated by each occasion of wasted time or energy, be it real or imagined. This can be detrimental to your health and most certainly it will dampen your joy and that of those around you. There is no need to allow the joy of living to deteriorate into nothing more than a coldly efficient job of living.
When working with others, keep in mind that not everyone can develop the same degree of efficiency. In the long run you will be able to depend more upon the joyful worker with lower efficiency than upon the 100-percent-efficient worker who does his job with distaste, lack of joy and indifference.
So efficiency does have its place. But do not become the slave of efficiency. Let it become your slave. Putting motion economy to work in a reasonable way will add to your joy and to the joy of those around you.
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Planning meals for the week ahead of time can mean fewer trips to the market
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Take action as soon as a need for repairs is recognized