Driving Drives Productivity

Wondering what’s stopping you from accomplishing your tasks. This could be it.

The Encounter

Do you drive? Have you ever noticed that sometimes it would have taken longer than you estimated? Can you list down a few reasons? Traffic, you might blurt out immediately, but that could not just be it. Usually, you estimate your travel time by taking the traffic into account, Now that we have google maps that cannot be an exception. What else could it be? I didn’t know either until the day when…

I was driving to work, The roads were not so crowded the traffic was bearable, the signals were mostly green. I thought I was already having my luckiest day. On reaching my destination, I still found that it took more than I estimated. I was shocked but determined to find out what went wrong.

Though I usually drive in a zen state letting my brain wander in all directions, I took time to replay every piece of that drive. Finally, the answer popped up from my subconscious, Interruptions.

I have been recently reading about productivity at work, and I immediately mapped it to interruptions at work and how it impacts productivity. During the Following drive, I noticed a lot of other driving facts that are productivity killers at work as well.

The Realization

Pre-Requisites Check

Usually, before you start your drive or travel, you do a series of planning. Plan the trip, pick the best route possible, time to start, check for the gas, air, climate and so on.

Similarly, when it comes to productivity in accomplishing a task, you should check the prerequisites before starting the work. Since I am a developer, my pre-requisites look like getting clarity from the spec, resources that would help me complete the task, a small POC snippet of code, etc.,

Traveling An Unknown Path

Before driving, If you are familiar with the route, you probably could estimate the time right most of the time, If not you give yourself some time to figure out things on the go.

The same applies to your work as well. After getting the pre-requisites right, do you have a 100% clarity on what needs to be done?, If not give yourself time to play around and get things on the plate before moving on.

Dependencies

In case you started your ride without checking the required parameters, you will be forced to stop and acquire those on the go, like stopping for gas, which is going to cost you big on how early you reach the destination.

A few minor halts are sometimes unavoidable. There might be one particular parameter you might have missed. But it is always better to get your pre-requisites right.

I found this a hard way, not thinking through your problems and starting the implementation is only going to take a hit on your productivity.

Interruptions

Remember the part in the in the introduction where I mentioned I reached the destination late in spite of less traffic. That particular day there were a lot of interruptions on the road. While factors like traffic signals contribute to your actual estimated time, these minor interruptions never come into account but will cost you big.

Every time another vehicle crosses your path, you are bound to reduce your speed and pick it up back. Doing this a couple of times would be equal to standing in 10 signals.

Every time you bump into a colleague to ask for a small help or clarification, you are crossing their path, you are reducing their speed. There is another common practice in offices is calling one person to call the person next to him. This is even worse because you are hitting the productivity of both the people.

Traffic

The following video explains how small interruptions accumulate to form big traffics. Too many cooks spoil the food. Larger the team or tasks mean more dependency or interruption.

As the number of interruption increases, the focus time of people decreases taking a hit on the overall productivity of the team.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L45HwjzMu0g

External events

Is there rain which caused congestion at various places? Is there a storm because of which you can’t imagine leaving the house.

The events that are not under your control comes under this. While there is always a fallback for dependency failure, there are none for external events.

The key point you have to notice here is, Do you have a backup plan when something goes out of your plan?

You

Everything starts with you. Are you feeling like driving today? I am not talking about procrastination here. There are a few days where you feel like doing nothing but lay on your bed. No matter how much you push yourself and get yourself to drive to work, you would end up accomplishing nothing.


  1. Find and do those little things that will make you happy, and keep your energy up. You will find the push to strike off the items from your task list.
  2. Think through and plan things ahead.
  3. Have a backup plan.
  4. Analyze track and learn from your mistakes. Who knows it might end up to be a blog like this 😃