I visited a National Trust estate recently, which had an old – disused, of course – horse mill in the grounds.
It made me think of how things have evolved over the years.
Grain has long been a staple in the diet of us humans. And originally, many a long year ago, we ground it ourselves.
Someone – a miller, I expect – would have been busy milling all day, every day.
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It would have been a pretty tiring job, but it was an important one. So it was a good and productive use of time. That miller was busy doing something necessary.
And then, someone invented the horse mill.
Someone realised that horses, with their greater strength and greater stamina, could replace the miller in this task.
And not only would using horses mean the miller was freed from needing to do this task – thus relieving his “busyness” – but it was a far more productive way of doing it too! The horses could grind much more grain per day than the miller could.
And then … electricity! Someone, following the marvellous discovery of electricity itself, invented a mill that was powered by electric, thus relieving both the miller AND the horses from this important task.
And here we are today. We still have ground grain … more of it than ever before, most probably.
And we still have people, “millers” so to speak, that are busy ensuring this grain is milled.
But they are no longer busy all day, they are no longer busy doing this one same task all day long. And nor are those horses. We no longer need horses to be busy working all day in order to grind that grain for us humans.
A SOLUTION was found, to free up the millers’ (and the horses’) time. To make them less busy …
And with that solution, output improved.
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This is a nice example of the power of invention, and of technology …
But it also shows how things can change in terms of what is necessary to spend time on. And that there is almost always a way to do something that doesn’t require you to be quite so “busy”.
Although, as in the case with the grain mills … sometimes you may need a bit of “invention” to happen before that’s an option.
Sometimes, though … maybe it’s just a case of looking closer at exactly what we are doing?
Focusing more on the MAIN problem?
Imagine you got in a boat to cross a river. Imagine there was a hole in that boat, so it was constantly filling up with water …
It’s not a big hole, so it’s manageable. But someone needs to be there, constantly, bailing out that water.
Now that “water bailer” is going to be pretty busy. For every litre they bail out that boat, another litre will be coming straight back in.
So it’s an important job. That bailer needs to keep bailing, minute after minute, to keep that boat afloat.
But what if they just fixed the hole?
No more water leaking into the boat.
No more need to bail the water out.
No more need for the water bailer to be so busy bailing water …
In fact, no more need for the water bailer at all!
Being busy normally makes us feel like we’re doing something important. And usually, we ARE doing something important when we’re busy. Something we’ve been doing for a long time … that we were “taught” was the best way to do it. Or that has simply always been necessary so as to “stay afloat”.
But maybe, if we take a step back and focus on the MAIN problem …
If we look at WHY we are “doing it” like that. Or why we are doing it AT ALL …
Maybe we will notice that actually there is a hole that can be fixed, that will free up our NEED to do it in the first place?
Or maybe we will notice a NEW way to do it – a better, modernised, evolved way to do it – which will free up our time so we no longer need to be quite so BUSY with that particular, important task.
Maybe that “fix” will mean better productivity AND more time.
And who doesn’t think that sounds like a win?