Preparing the potatoes early

Growing up on a farm in Ontario, you learn about efficiency very quickly. There are many times in my young life when I remember thinking, “if I do it this way, I can get out of the heat/cold more quickly,” or “if I do this part now, I don’t need to do it later when I’m in the middle of another task.”

One thing I remember clearly is my mother peeling and cutting potatoes hours before dinner. Immediately after lunch every day; my mother would start peeling and cutting potatoes in preparation for dinner that was at least 5+ hours away. She would peel them, chop them into cubes, put them in a big pot of water on the counter, and just leave them there. That way, when it was time to start making dinner, all she would do was put them on the stove, turn it on, and wait. She did the tedious work early to get that out of the way when there were more pressing things to do in the kitchen.

Every spare minute that woman had (and still has) is used for something. She’s always preparing or tasking now so that her life is easier in the future. Sure, it might seem like a few jobs get half done and then they need to be finished later, but which scenario seems easier; Peeling and cutting the potatoes while trying to watch the meat and making the salad? Or letting those taters simmer and focusing more attention on the meat (and getting your children to make the salad).

Most of us are terrible multitaskers. So instead of multitasking, we should be taking a note from my mother and multi-preparing. Instead of waiting on a team member for their piece for the project you are working on, prepare the framework so that it fits easily with the project when you get it. Instead of waiting on the SOPs to build the handbook, build the handbook to slot in the SOPs. Instead of waiting on client complaints, think of many ways a client could complain, and include it in your onboarding process or draft emails addressing concerns that may arise so your staff is confident with their answers.

Take a lesson from my mother, so you can focus on what matters when it matters, and those potatoes will be simmering in the background needing nothing more than a kitchen timer.

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