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24 Aug

Four ways of changing something so that you find what you need faster

Datum: 2021-08-24 10:01

Have you also been look­ing for the same thing sev­er­al times? It can be a dig­i­tal doc­u­ment or a paper. Few things get me as frus­trat­ed as look­ing for some­thing I put away some­where but can­not remem­ber where. For me this is a com­plete waste of time.

Sure, we could regard the time we spend look­ing for some­thing as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to spot some­thing unex­pect­ed which might give us valu­able ideas, but when I am in look­ing-mode, I am not recep­tive to new ideas or insights. I just want to find what I am seek­ing — as quick­ly as possible.

Ben­e­fit from your search
Even­tu­al­ly we find what we were search­ing for. Fair enough. We are of course tempt­ed to return to the task we were orig­i­nal­ly work­ing on, but this is where we should stop for a sec­ond and use the search we just con­duct­ed for anoth­er purpose.

This hap­pens to be a great time to improve on some­thing which will will mean less time spent look­ing next time we need the object in ques­tion. The fact that we need­ed to search for the object at all is an indi­ca­tion of that some­thing is not opti­mal­ly struc­tured, and here is where our oppor­tu­ni­ty to make an improve­ment lies. In terms of Lean Pro­duc­tion, the time spent look­ing for some­thing before we can con­tin­ue work­ing on our task, is unques­tion­ably regard­ed as waste.

If we just briefly reflect on why we need­ed to search for it in the first place and what we could change so that it will be eas­i­er to find, we will sim­ply find it faster next time and hence waste less time.

Do this
The next time you find some­thing you have been look­ing for, pause for a minute or two and think of some­thing con­crete you could change to make it eas­i­er to find the object of your search next time. Try think­ing of some­thing you can do imme­di­ate­ly (hence avoid­ing an addi­tion­al task on your to-do-list). What could this be? Well, for instance you could:

  • Being more clear and spe­cif­ic when phras­ing the name of the file you are look­ing for. The more infor­ma­tion con­tained in the name of the file, the eas­i­er it will be to locate. Auto­mat­i­cal­ly gen­er­at­ed names giv­en to doc­u­ments by devices or appli­ca­tions are rarely suf­fi­cient, and can cause more con­fu­sion that clar­i­ty (such as the pdf-file cre­at­ed by the doc­u­ment which was scanned into the com­put­er and auto­mat­i­cal­ly named 1947261539.pdf”).

  • Move the object or doc­u­ment to the loca­tion in which you spon­ta­neous­ly first looked for it. There was prob­a­bly a good rea­son why you assumed it would be in this par­tic­u­lar loca­tion. Does the object belong there rather than where it cur­rent­ly is placed?

  • Des­ig­nate a spe­cif­ic place for just this item. Since it prob­a­bly isn’t the last time you will look for this spe­cif­ic doc­u­ment, it might deserve its own loca­tion so that you will not have to skim trough heaps of oth­er mate­r­i­al before find­ing it next time. My assis­tant could­n’t find the stamps in the hang­ing file fold­er marked with S (since it was full of so many oth­er things) so these can now be found in the hang­ing file fold­er marked Stamps” instead.

  • Help your­self find the right loca­tion imme­di­ate­ly next time. Cre­ate a search-path or a descrip­tion of where to look in the check­list or cheat-sheet you use when per­form­ing the task. The next time you can just read (or click on) the search-path with­out hav­ing to remem­ber where you found the item in ques­tion last time.

Keep your flow”
If you make an improve­ment, even if it is only a small one, every time you search for some­thing and even­tu­al­ly find it, you will need to spend less time search­ing and look­ing for lost things and doc­u­ments in the long-run. You will also avoid that awful frus­tra­tion of being obstruct­ed in your flow, and what you need to do will be com­plet­ed with greater ease and less annoy­ance. Sim­pler and smoother.

Do you have a spe­cial trick?
What is your best trick or method for find­ing what you tend to look for again and again? Tell me.