Life Lessons From Blogging: Debottlenecking

The entire bottleneck concept is not geared to decrease operating expense, it’s focused on increasing throughput. – Eliyahu M. Goldratt

The Reality of Traffic

Think about a road with four lanes, but as you continue driving, the lanes start to merge, and eventually, you come to a standstill. Four lanes have become two and the same number of cars have to go through. The flow is disrupted. Life can seem like that sometimes, creating bottlenecks. Can we overcome the bottlenecks and continue to thrive by reducing massive constraints on our progress? Let me show you how using a simple three-step process I call, “Burn the Fat, Build the Muscle. There is a myth that you can convert fat into muscle, which is simply not true. Fat and muscle are two types of body tissue structured differently. You must burn one and build the other. Muscle is active, while fat is passive. 

Step one is eliminating or reducing time wasters, which I compare with burning fat. Time wasters take up room in our lives that could be occupied with more useful activities. One of the biggest time wasters that adds “excess fat” around our thoughts and imagination is the junk food of worry, fear, and anxiety. They provide empty calories. What excess fat is to the heart, fear is to the mind; dangerous. Fear will cause a cardiac arrest in our creativity, passion, diligence, determination, faith, hope, and love. Our intake is key to burning off this fat. How much of the information you ingest daily builds worry in your mind? It’s time to cancel those feeds and turn off some notifications that have become the doorway for mental plaque. There are other time wasters such as binge-watching TV, social media, procrastinating, saying “yes” to everyone and everything, and having too many options. Too many options make us kick the can down the street on decisions that, if made sooner rather than later, will aid in keeping our lives free from bottlenecks. 

Step two, which is part of building muscle, is becoming more mindful. You do this by first paying attention to distractions. The greatest weapon against a disciplined person is distractions. The temptation to click on that notification, that news flash, or sign up for that free trial. They ask for small amounts of time, but in the cumulative, they eat up large chunks of time that could be used purposefully somewhere else. Protect your time from distractions by building a defense of intentional concentration on a useful activity for a set period of time. This defense might mean turning off your phone and setting up no screen times to allow sessions of laser-sharp focus for maximum productivity. Second, consider your ways. Are your daily ebbs and flows creating opportunities for you to increase your capacity and improve your level of effectiveness? Being mindful is being aware of things in present tense form. Most of us live on autopilot and become desensitized to the present because of routine. By being mindful, we notice underlying inefficiencies, abnormalities, and oddities. It also heightens our curiosities, driving us to seek ways to change our routine by injecting some improvisation. Improvisation helps tap into new ways of thinking, making us more flexible and adaptable hence more creative. For example, as a writer, I use “word prompts” to break out of creative slumps. I simply look around and pick an object and write about it. Improvisation can be as simple as taking a different way home, seeing different scenery, and allowing your mind to explore and process what your eyes see. This break from the norm is key to removing bottlenecks and relieving tunnel vision. It can also change your perspective to see possibilities, not constraints.

Step three is collaboration: Talking with others and discovering what other people in your position are doing can be helpful in locating the source of bottlenecks and finding ways to do more with less and accelerate progress. Collaboration requires you to become a river, not a reservoir; a sharer, not a silo. As a silo, you will go through unnecessary growing pains and intense bottlenecking that could have been alleviated by sharing. American businesswoman Caroline Ghosn accurately observed, “Collaboration is like carbonation for fresh ideas. Collaboration bubbles up ideas you would not have come up with solo, which gets you further faster. Going back to the example of traffic, on some highways, it is normal for a lane to end, with a merge sign displayed. In this instance, the drivers, though they may not know each other, have to work together, share the road, and collaborate to prevent a bottleneck. We live our best and most productive lives when we network, interact, and collaborate with others. Reciprocity (give and take) is how great collaborations function. As Helen Keller once said, “Alone, we can do so little, but together we can do so much.” At this stage, who can you collaborate with to eliminate bottlenecks in your life? 

Final thought: Current supply chain problems have highlighted bottlenecks and the delays they cause with disruption of the flow of resources efficiently. Mental bottlenecks disrupt the flow of healthy thoughts, relegating us to low-quality decisions based on worry and fear. By burning the fat and building muscle, we can stop bottlenecks in our lives, elevate our perspective and lead high-quality lives. Can you identify the bottlenecks in your life?

Keep on Keeping on!

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