Let the Tool Do its Job

by Brad Isaac on April 9, 2006

It’s funny how thoughts about life come to me while doing some basic chore.  I was outside this morning with my leaf Shred & vac bagging some leaves when it occurred to me I was attempting to violate some simple laws of engineering. I was trying to work outside the limits of the machine.

The way this leaf bagger works is it sucks up leaves like a vacuum and shreds them before pushing them into a bag.   It is an easy device to use.  You just hold the nozzle over some leaves and let it pull them in and shred them into the bag.  However, I was attempting to move it along quicker than the machine could do by quickly twisting from right to left over a large area of leaves.  I did this instead of letting machine do its job for me.

Several problems arose from me trying to rush and push beyond the machine’s abilities: 
1.    Since I was pushing it over a large area, the ability to control the nozzle was limited.  As a result, I’d brush the nozzle over pine bark and sticks – which would get sucked up and jammed in the receiver.  That means I had to take the bagger apart and remove the stick and put it back together.
2.    Covering more surface area meant I was working harder, not the machine.  My back started hurting from twisting from side to side.  So I was getting more tired early on and showing less progress
3.    A leaf bagger being pulled over a large surface area tends to take only the top layer of leaves instead of clearing an area.  So even though I was gathering bag after bag, it appeared I hadn’t bagged much at all.
4.    Since I was showing less progress than I expected, I was getting more frustrated with the chore.

It occurs to me nearly every time I bag leaves that I need to let the machine do its job.  I need to sit back and watch as the machine works at it’s own pace.  Attempting to do more than what it was designed is inefficient and may even take longer (i.e. having to stop to take the machine apart to remove pine bark). 

This reminds me of the speeder who drives 20mph over the speed limit to get someplace faster.  However, when he arrives he finds he is only 45 seconds ahead of the person who drove the speed limit. Our gains from pushing our tools outside their capabilities with sheer muscle and force pay very small dividends.  It makes the job harder and more stressful.

Technorati Tags: tools, gtd, patience, landscaping

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{ 1 comment }

B. Riley April 13, 2006 at 9:30 am

This is one reason I am so bad at golf. I won’t let the club work. I have to put my back into it, and watching the ball sail in any direction except the one intended by the course designer.

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