The Optimized Line Up

Line ups are a part of life.  There is always going to be a situation where you can’t just breeze in and have your needs immediately taken care of.

I hate waiting in lines.  I wait to get on elevators, check into hotels, go through customs, to be seated at a table in a restaurant, to go to the bathroom and so many more occasions I can’t even count.

If I am alone this is usually a dead time.  A time I mindlessly surf on my phone or focus on not making eye contact with those also waiting in line with me.  On a really productive day I may be listening to an ebook so I might be learning something while I wait, but since my attention is only partially on the content, it isn’t a fully valuable spend of my precious minutes.

For the last few years I have been going out of my way to avoid line ups.  I have changed a number of my patterns to eek out more precious minutes in my day that may otherwise be wasted.

I rarely take transit-I walk.  No line ups.  I shop online.  No line ups.  I bank online.  No line ups.

Unfortunately, despite my desire to do it, I am usually unsuccessful when it comes to making my own morning coffee.  So this I have accepted will continue to require adding myself to a queue like cattle waiting for slaughter.  To ensure this experience is the best possible one I can have I have chosen to change my path to coffee.

I used to line up at a chain coffee place and wait to be served while checking my watch and tapping my foot impatiently.  Each moment that would tick by, I would be more annoyed at them stealing my time.

Today I now frequent two different LOCAL businesses for morning coffee and sometimes snacks (Jimmy’s Coffee and the Gabardine) depending on where I am in the city.  A lovely perk is the fact that they both cost less for a fun coffee beverage and snack than say… Starbucks (or fill in the blank corporate chain here) but in addition to being cheaper, they also offer a whole other boatload of values.

1)  Local Business=Local Value: I can’t say enough how much I like supporting smaller scale businesses. They hire local people, buy local ingredients, support local commerce….Yay shop local!

2)  They don’t have an employee handbook: Not needing to conform to corporate norms and rules makes for more fun. This is one of my favourite things about small businesses of all types.  These guys can roll their eyes and not risk being fired.  They can guilt you for that blueberry scone addiction you have and chuckle about how it is their baker’s fault that you are going to get chubby because of said addiction.  They can banter about real news items and tell you a story even if there are more people in line.

3) They remember you and don’t have to stress about the little things.  The other day the credit machine wouldn’t work.  I had no cash so they just gave me my coffee and scone….said…”have a nice day on us”.  They know I will be back.  They know losing my $4 order in the till won’t do anything but drive additional business their way.  They didn’t worry about it.  No risk of a regional manager giving them shit for loss.  You would never have that happen at a chain.  They know I will be back and continue to tell people about how great they are.

4)  Things are fresh: Yup that coffee was made for me, I watched the platter of scones come out of the kitchen still warm.  There is nothing, pre-packaged, preserved or manufactured at these places.

5)  Waiting in line doesn’t suck.  The wait is simply because they are busy having clever banter with another person that you are welcome to listen to.  When it is your turn you will be the one on the receiving end of the clever banter and enjoying your line up experience.

6) They don’t look the same: I love that when I walk through the doors of a small business I can feel their vibe coming through in the surroundings.  It is a representation of what they want you to feel when you walk in the door.  Let’s be honest… a McDonalds in Europe looks the same as the one in the mall… and while seeing something you are familiar with can make you feel safe, there is something to be said for adventure.

So find some places that you don’t hate being in line.  Shop at those boutiques, eat at those restaurants, enjoy being part of the banter and quit hating your line up experience…Don’t get me wrong.. I will never go back to banking with humans… that is not a line up you can enjoy without a lobotomy.

Time Vacuums

So often I hear my colleagues complain about how little time they have left in a day.  It always occurs to me that maybe they should be more aware of the tasks and deliverables that they commit themselves to (or are committed to by someone else) and manage accordingly.
Lately, I have had some time thieves surrounding me that are stealing my precious task completion time and I feel a little bit less cranky about those people who can’t get their work done.  Maybe it isn’t all their fault.
Inside a traditional organization we have little grasp on the actual use of the tools we have at hand to make our lives easier.  So often I discover people who arrive late at meetings because they can’t sort out their calendars to give themselves meeting reminders.
Often we lose the first five to ten minutes of each meeting to small talk while people arrive late.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally care about your adventures with Junior, Rover, Your Grandma etc, but I care when we are grabbing a coffee or riding the elevator.  I do not care when we are using up the precious minutes that we have as a group to resolve stuff.
The cost of time.
The average meeting I attend has roughly 6-10 people.  Say each of the six people make a conservative $50,000/ annually, that means that each hour of their time is worth ~$30 add benefits and vacation etc. into that mix and let’s call it $50/hour. SO a meeting with 10 people is worth about $500/hour if we start every meeting 10 minutes late we are throwing away about $85 talking about taking Rover to the park.  Multiply that by five meetings a week $425, times fifty two weeks a year $22,100.  We are throwing away half a person each year just on my one little team.  Multiply that times an entire department or organization and poof! You have enough staff to complete every initiative with time left over.  Just by being on time and ready to go.