Tortoise and Hare were both known for their culinary expertise and were invited to a face-off in the Iron Chef. Soon after the competition began, it was clear that the Hare was significantly ahead of the Tortoise. The audience was amazed at the speed with which Hare mixed ingredients, poured them into another container and tossed the mixing bowl aside to move on to the next step in preparation.
Tortoise, on the other hand, seemed to be well behind. It wasn’t that he was going slower than Hare, but the audience agonizingly watched as he carefully cleaned each bowl, pan and utensil and put them back in their place after use. Tortoise was making progress, but was well behind the Hare in completing his culinary masterpiece.
Hare continued to out-pace Tortoise, but about halfway through the competition, things began to change. Hare needed to mix raw eggs with Tabasco to make one of his secret sauces, but he couldn’t find a clean mixing bowl. He looked around and finally found a dirty one that had gotten kicked under the counter. He tried to quickly wipe it out with a paper towel, but discovered that the previous ingredients had already hardened.
After spending a few minutes chipping away at the mixture, he left it to soak in water and went to look for another. When he found one that looked like he could clean it easily, he took it back to the sink to rinse it out, but he couldn’t get it under the faucet because the other bowl was in the way. He finally got the soaking bowl out of the way, but managed to spill it on the floor in the process. Once he got the bowl clean, he mixed the two ingredients and then headed over to the stove to pour them into a sauce pan. The first two sauce pans had food cooked to them, and he finally found one that was less dirty and headed back to the sink to clean it. On the way, he slipped on the water previously spilled on the floor….
All this time, Tortoise continued to work as before, cleaning each item after use and putting it back where it belonged. He finished on time as the competition ended with a clean working area and a marvelous meal. Hare, on the other hand, had to work extremely fast to even finish and most of the last half of the competition was spent trying to chip hardened food off bowls and pans. He had to skip several of the things he had planned because he ran out of time.
The moral of the story is this: When it comes to being organized, some of the things that seem to slow you down are the very things that let you work faster in the long run.
The amount of time it takes to stay organized as you work, is much less than the amount of time it takes to get organized when you are under a deadline. Having an organized desk, a good system for dealing with paper, all your contacts in one place, and a well-designed filing system will take time to set up and maintain. Sometimes it might even seem like a waste of time; but when you get busy, these are the very things that will let you operate at peak efficiency.