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Remove The Friction

engineLife is full of stumbling blocks you have no control of.  You can best equip yourself to take on these challenges by making every step of your most regular and predictable processes as easy as possible.  This requires looking at the points in the process that cause friction and removing it.  This applies to every process, but I am going to stick with the example of sorting the daily mail.

Friction: You don’t feel like addressing today’s mail because there is so much of it.
Remove the Friction: Don’t think of the mail as a single mountain of challenges.  In fact, don’t even call it “mail.” Call it bills to pay, junk mail to toss, donations to consider, statements to file, etc.  Sort it accordingly.  Remove the pressure on yourself to address every piece and simply commit to sorting them. This should take less than two minutes. No friction.

Friction: You resist the sorting idea because it just leads to sorted piles on the dining table that eventually run into each other.
Remove the Friction: Never accept the dining table as storage.  Think of it as a runway for processing things like mail and, well, dinner.  Create designated areas for each category so there is always a reliable plan for moving the process forward.

Friction: You feel like you should probably shred some of the junk mail, but you’re not sure what to shred and you don’t have the time.
Remove the Friction: Know your comfort level and be consistent.  For example, if you’ve decided you are just concerned about credit card numbers and your social security number, don’t waste time pondering every letter with your address on it.  Also, don’t shred before you are done sorting.  It’s really important that you do the sorting FIRST and every day.  If you run out of time to shred, just keep a shred box.  You can then shred it while you watch TV, or you can delegate it or, if there’s a lot, you can have a service like Shred Station Express do it at a reasonable rate.

There should be nothing holding you back from sorting the mail daily, recycling, washing dishes, collecting laundry, and clearing your desk at night. Each of these processes should be so easy it feels like cheating.  If that’s not true, look at the part that’s slowing you down and ask yourself, what would it take to move the process forward.  The more often you have to do something the more effort you should invest in making it flow more fluidly.  The key is to find the friction points and remove them.

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