Have you been busy?

Boy, how many times is that question asked each day? It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a customer, another tool distributor or a guest at a weekend cookout.

“Busy?” is a common question, asked by all. Is it out of concern for the financial health of the other person, or is it just a safe way to make conversation?

The question

I have always found the question odd, unproductive and even a little confusing. Of what relevance could the answer be? When asked, I always reply, “Yeah, you bet,” while carrying on with the task at hand. My answer is quick and easy, closing the conversation.

Questions are a part of our lives; without them communication would suffer. But that does not mean we should spend conversation inquiring about things that just don’t pertain.

Before you start to think I am harsh or uncaring, stop to reflect on how many times you have asked or been asked that question. Now think of how much time was spent listening to the answer or telling your story.

I know it’s impossible to calculate the time spent, but I’m sure we can all agree it would be at least hundreds of minutes, and maybe a lot more. Now ask yourself ‘Were those minutes productive?’ Most of us should have answered the same, and now I should no longer appear harsh or uncaring, just more focused.

Saving time

Each of us at some point in our daily routines thinks about ways of making our work days shorter or seeing more customers in the time allowed. We often discus “saving time” with others, all the while ignoring what is right in front of our face.

Let’s analyze a flat rate tech who just had a job come into his bay that he knows is a money maker. He has done this repair countless times. He knows which parts to have on his box, knows what tools are required and knows the shortcuts that will allow him to finish the job under book time. Will that technician “save” time?

Most of us would answer ‘yes’ to that question, but can we really “save” time? For years I believed that I could save time by being more proficient, but I finally realized that saving time is impossible. It is not humanly possible to secure and make available something that is not tangible. Time is ever-moving and does not slow or stop. It is our perception of “saving” time that gives us a sense of accomplishment or proficiency.

Evaluate the situation

If you find this hard to follow, study a focused flat rate tech in a busy shop. He’ll slow down only long enough to deliver the finished car to the wash line. If we could in fact “save” time, this tech might have a different pace between jobs: after all he “saved” two hours on the last job, so why hurry for the next one? Why not take a long lunch?

The reason he does not slow down or take a long lunch is because he understands that if he is extremely proficient, it will take “less” time to complete each job, allowing more jobs to be done in the same day.

The next time you are asked or if you find yourself asking about “busy,” think “less” - less of a concern, less time to be productive, or less time to be with family and friends. In fact, if you look at it right, “less” could quite easily create the new “busy” you.