REFLECTION: In the process of clearing out the pigeonholes above the kitchen desk on the weekend, I discovered a Fuji Quick Snap film cartridge with the words ‘Summer ’98’ pencilled on the label. It’s impossible to tell with these little guys if the film has been developed or not, and I could not stand the suspense.
Thinking, perhaps, I’d unearthed a gem of remembrance, I dropped the film off at the photo counter at the local Shopper’s Drug Mart on my way home around 6:00 the next evening. The young woman behind the counter assured me that they did still handle that kind of film.
Then she immediately apologized that it would not be possible for her to turn the order around within the hour as she had several other jobs backlogged and was closing at 8:00. She further noted, again falling all over herself in apology, that she was pretty sure she could have the prints ready by noon the next day.
I laughed and reassured her that since the film had been hanging around for at least 12 years, I could easily wait a few more days – or even weeks for that matter. She looked surprised at my reaction. Apparently she serves a lot of people who have ‘last minute – must rush’ photo emergencies!
ACTION: Have you noticed how our expectations about turn-around times have ramped up in recent years? Even tasks that hold no pressing deadline are presented or interpreted as obviously urgent.
Somehow we have it in our heads that tackling tasks at the last moment is a fact of life, that urgency and high performance go hand in hand, and that quality service is defined by speed and speed alone.
Pay close attention this week to expectations about task turn-around in your work and personal life. Don’t crank up the speedometer in situations where the task is less than urgent. Stop to ask about tasks shunted your way that appear to have ASAP labels firmly attached.
Chances are good that there’s wiggle room in at least some of the timelines. That extra margin might be just what you need to feel more in control of the load and less stressed by unnecessary ‘quick time’ expectations. And, committing that extra margin of time to tasks that really matter might short circuit a major last minute urgency somewhere down the road.
PS – Wondering about the pics from 1998? Turns out I had printed them before – images from a convention in Philadelphia and summer vacation at Waskesiu. Fun to see them again, anyway! The film cannister is now in the garbage!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Apparently the proverbial Chinese and Greeks are in agreement in preferring patience over haste:
“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” Chinese Proverb
“One minute of patience, ten years of peace.” – Greek Proverb
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: Read Seth Godin’s treatise on the shortcomings of urgency as an action default.
LAST CALL: This is the final week to e-mail me a photo of your best smile – or someone else’s best smile. In September, I’ll pull together a shareable slide show/video to brighten everyone’s day. I’m loving the pics that have arrived so far. You will, too! Can’t wait to see your contributions!
READERS WRITE: In response to last week’s message, The Maturity Advantage, Pause reader JJ writes: Your comments remind me of the need to be able to identify and separate real problems from inconveniences. My husband and I often use the term “6 o’clock news” (as heard in a speech by corporate comedian Mark Mayfield) as a way of forcing ourselves and each other to stop and think of the true nature of the issue.
Is this ‘issue’ something that would qualify as truly newsworthy: your child is lost at the mall or your employer just went bankrupt. Or do you initially just perceive the ‘inconvenience’ to be more important than it really is: your child just spilled juice all over the floor or you are in a hurry and have to wait in a long lineup?
“6 o’clock news” helps you put things in perspective. I challenge you to try it out…next time someone around you is upset about something, just say “6 o’clock news” in a loud enough voice to make them stop and think. It has worked every time for us.