Yet another follow up article! It is the continuation of Sea Shells!! I guess, this is going to be a series!!
The first question I raised to myself was how many baskets can I have in my truck! This article is all about that decision. How did I decide? How did I know the optimal number; is there a formula? Can I do better? How do I know which baskets get to stay and which are to be thrown? Was I able to throw a basket just because I don’t like it?
What is the magical number? Hmm… interestingly, there is no formula for the number of baskets and it varies from person to person and time to time! It is comparable to juggling! How many balls can you juggle? It is not the same number of balls for all jugglers. Even for the same person, it could vary depending on their energy levels at different points in time! So, each person has to decide how many they can manage! Decide on the minimum manageable number and consider a few stretches to see if you can do better!
Which baskets get to stay? I looked for the ones I love to have first and then looked for the ones I have to have for my survival. Intersection of both these categories had the most essential baskets - the ones I will never throw away! The first picks! The second set is the ones I have to do for my survival even if I don’t love to retain. Philosophers like Jittu and Osho will say stop doing something if you don’t like it - whatever it maybe! But in real life, for a common person like me, it is very tough. The third set is the stretch category is, the ones I love to do but need not do. I am trying my best to get rid of / work around for the second set so that I will have room for the third set. After all, what is life, if you cant do what you love to do! The fourth category is a clear throw - I don’t love and I don’t have to do! It was interesting to see how many such items were sticking around!
Am I already successful in emptying my truck? Yes and no!! :-) Mentally, I have emptied my truck. But in reality, not yet! In life, many times, it is difficult to get rid of things that quickly. So, how can someone handle such situations? Some of the items can be comparable to riding a tiger! You may not be able to get off the tiger that easily! A few others are not that hard! But they are like a fast moving conveyor belt. For you to get off the belt, you need to have a great balance and you need good amount of preparation for gaining that kind of a balance. You may also be worried about impacting things around the belt that'd be disturbed when you jump out. Moving things around to minimize the impact is necessary. The next point is, you may not have support system that can give you the balance while jumping. If you don’t have one, you need to create one. Till then, you'd most likely end up managing more than your WIP (Work In Progress) limit & choke every now and then. When you are in the high pressure zone to resolve such bottlenecks, it is better to take time to breath deeply, do some physical exercises too. All these may sound counterintuitive, because they add to the items to be juggled. But, if the juggler is not fit, they cant even juggle half their usual capacity!
To make room for all these, you may want to pass a few balls to another juggler, you may shelve some balls temporarily, or throw the balls so very high up so that they take longer time to come back to you for the next round! If you don’t put in conscious effort to resolve these bottlenecks, it is going to be tough in the longer run. You will start dropping the balls here and there. You need to learn to manage the impact of dropped balls.
More than dropping the balls, it is deciding which ball to catch next, that tires people! We use the same mental energy pool for making decision irrespective of the size of the decision. More and more you drain this pool, even a small trigger could set fire to your emotions! So, it is better for anyone to limit the WIP so that you are not under constant pressure to make decision! It was very tiring for even someone like me who prefers to take my own decisions. If you are someone who would go by others' decisions usually and end up in this kind of situation, it can drain you faster. (BTW, in this process, I figured out why I spend very little time buying clothes :-) Because I prefer to decide for myself, I need to reserve this pool for taking bigger decisions and I do not want to spend that energy in deciding which saree to buy! Possibly this can be another article by itself :-) :-) The art of choosing not to choose!!). The point is, more the number of balls, quicker the energy gets depleted. Of course, what is "more" is person dependent.
Is it only hard feelings when you try limiting WIP in personal life? I do not think so. Many times, it feels hard. But it is pretty much comparable to business world or sports. It was like doing sit-ups; while practicing situps, it hurts, but later you get stronger. Downsizing the organization hurts; but focusing on core business gives you an opportunity for revival, success and excellence. Similarly, at the end of resolving the bottlenecks, you would feel stronger that you are in better control of what is going on. I would think, it was an interesting journey! It made me understand what I really love, in other words, what is my core! Sure, I was irritable on some days, tired on few other days during the exercise. But I feel more confident now. I should agree that my motivation level has gone up. I am glad, I went through this exercise!! I am sure, if it was an inky pinky ponky decision, I wouldn't have got these benefits!!