When Process Gets in the Way

It has been said before (and I
have written it!) that the "hiker" (or camper, or…) has arrived when
he simply needs to grab his (pre-packed pack) that hangs from a hook in
the garage and drive away to a favorite trailhead – no prep, no
process: immediate entry through Door #1.

Granted, this beats spending eight hours trying to find every little bit of kit because it's strewn across four closets and two storage units.

Enter Michael Lopp, author of Saving Seconds.

Lopp regurgitates an important statement about process simplicity that systems engineers have known for decades but fail to practice in real life very often:

"Paying attention to productivity is a slippery slope. The system
efficiency addiction associated with saving time can become so
compelling that your process begins to control more of your time than
your product."

Lopp is obviously not an ultralight backpacker. You see, he fails to realize just how darn fun the process can be sometimes. Give a hiker a digital scale accurate to a hundreth of an ounce and Microsoft Excel and … well, you know the rest of the story (and society may not actually be better off for the consequences).

But, as important as a ruthless attitude towards being efficient is the attitude of dialing in the process so that the process remains enjoyable. Some say the best processes are those that are rote and do not get in the way of the product.

How sad is that!

As I pack for a car camping trip tonight, I find myself taking a little
extra time and enjoying the process of writing my gear list on an index
card, carefully piling supplies and gear into tidy piles, and neatly
checking off the items from my list. The card will go into my back pocket, and the backside will be my trip journal.

You see, sometimes, it is about the process – which can provide great rewards when it isn't a barrier to what you are hoping to accomplish with it.

Do you find simplicity in the processes that govern your daily life?