When my coworker Rebecca showed me how to do a task at the office, she told me to staple the paperwork twice, on either side of the top of the page. I was new to the task, so I didn’t know the reason. I assumed that the reason would become evident as I got more familiar with the task. Maybe it was to celebrate symmetry, make the papers tornado proof, or just show them who’s boss.
I came to know the task inside-and-out, and I found no reason to use two staples. It became particularly annoying when I had to remove both staples on a bunch of sets of papers. Why was I spending the extra time to staple twice (and remove twice the number of staples)? Those were dark days, to be sure.
But, seriously, while this isn’t a big deal at all, it goes to show that we do some things without knowing why. Sometimes those things are unnecessary. At times, they are detrimental. Thoughtless activities can waste time and other resources. Sometimes they do harm.
Let’s train ourselves to stop and think about what we’re doing and why. If there’s no good reason for it, let’s stop doing it. If there’s a better way to achieve the same goal, let’s make a change.
We’re not robots. Life is better when we shift out of autopilot and live more thoughtfully. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.