Ultimate life hacks: flow and making tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge

I had an interview with 3M last year — if you’re not familiar, they invented the Post-It Note — and the interviewer says to me right off the bat, “Well, why do you want to work at 3M?” I wasn’t 100 percent feeling well during the interview — head cold, low-grade fever — but I decided to just up and go for it here, so I said something along the lines of “Well, I think the Post-It Note is one of the great simple innovations of all-time.” Dude looks at me like I just tried to teach a dog to speak Mandarin, side-eyes the floor, and moves on. This, unfortunately, is my life.

(In case you were wondering, I did not get that job.)

I got a measure of revenge today when Jamie Bonini, a ‘productivity guru’ at Toyota (the head of their Production System Support Center) talked to Quartz and WNYC about making your personal life productive. This is a huge deal — go ahead and Google “life hacks” and there are 171 million results, then Google “productivity tips” and there are 76.2 million — and people are always looking for ways to be productive in between being busy (or maybe a better term is around being busy).

Toyota is known as one of the more productive companies in the world (by some measure), and their own productivity guru basically says f*ck apps that are supposed to prioritize things for you and instead use Post-It Notes and basically create a car dashboard of your life (picture above). This is called making tacit knowledge — stuff you inherently know — into explicit knowledge — stuff you need a reminder of, like oil levels or gas levels or what radio station is on. If you keep the key elements of a day in front of you, you’ll be more productive. Makes sense, no?

One of the other things is “don’t do stuff in batches.” This makes sense, because — cue MBA Operations class bullshit terms here — it creates essentially a bottleneck. If you’ve ever dumped 12 dishes in the sink and been like, “I’ll hit that up after Girls,” you know that after Girls you instead start Googling “Alison Williams Kanye” and suddenly those dishes, with crap caked on them, are there the next day. Rather, when the first dish is dirty, wash it. When the second dish is dirty, wash it. Etc.

Are these things realistic within “the busy trap” and other ideas about modern life? They are, but like anything you want to achieve, they will/do take work. If you combine this with the idea of being direct and on-point in your communications, your productivity could, theoretically, skyrocket. That’s a nice idea, right?

Ted Bauer

One Comment

Comments are closed.