Working Smarter, Not Harder

Straight after high school and just before uni, I got a summer job at what was then widely regarded as the best restaurant in town. People would speak of it in hushed tones and operatic gasps, followed by a frantic wiping of their mouth area.

So when I scored a position there – having never actually BEEN to said restaurant (did I mention that it cost like a zillion dollars just to wipe your feet on the carpet?) – I was suitably excited. This job was my golden ticket!

Er…we interrupt this blog to remind you that I was 16. Everything was my golden ticket. That is all.

But yes, this job was it! Amazing! Life-changing! $5 an hour!

Wait, what?

That’s right! Five bucks a freaking hour. And it gave me blisters. And…da da da da! We weren’t allowed to keep our tips.

BUT…while this sucked buttocks at the time, I actually look back on that job as one of the best earners ever – sure, not in the currency of cash, but in terms of learning the basics of how to get the most out of even limited time? It made me wealthy.

Their philosophy, you see, revolved around this suitably cheesy sounding concept, of working smarter, not harder.

I remember the owner taking me aside in my first week of training, trudging me into the kitchen and showing me the dishwasher.

“Now,” he said, “it takes 3 minutes for the dishwasher to go through its cycle. And…” he turned to some dirty baskets of prawn shells, “it takes 2 minutes to clear this bench.”

He waited, looking at me with a twinkle in his eye reminiscent of the I’m about to tell a Dad joke variety.

“My question to you, Jenny, is how long would it take you to clear the bench AND put a load through the dishwasher?”

While I suspected this was kinda a trick question, he seemed so genuinely excited at the revelation instore, that I didn’t bother even thinking.

“You think five minutes, right? Two minutes here, three minutes there! But that’s where the magic comes in – would you believe that you can do the dishes, clear the bench AND have another minute up your sleeve to do whatever else needs doing, in a grand total of THREE MINUTES.”

Do you get now where he was going with this? I’m sure you do. I don’t want to insult your intelligence. But I don’t want to take you for granted either…hmmm, dilemmas!

Okay, consider this next part a little explanation chapter in a “choose your own adventure!’ book.

Here commenceth the Explanation Chapter

Task Breakdown:
Clear the bench – 2 minutes
Random task – 1 minute
Dishwasher – 3 minutes (boop boop de-doop)
TOTAL = 6 minutes by stacking the tasks back-to-back

Work Smarter Not Harder! Za za zing!
1. Start the dishwasher first – 3 mins to end
2. While it’s going, clear the bench – 2 mins to end
3. Use final minute to do other task.
TOTAL = 3 minutes and you’ve done three things by using the time wisely.

Here endeth the optional chapter.

That lesson in particular has stayed with me to this very day. I’ll probably let it go sometime tonight, but really, to this very day: how to re-think tasks around the house, as well as my career oriented to-do list, so I can get the most out of even little snippets of time.

Yes, that lesson stayed with me.

And don’t even get me started on peeling prawns…

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jennywynter Written by:


  1. July 8, 2010

    And I love you.
    xo K

    • July 8, 2010

      I love you too.

      I think I need to write another post though, to address the fact that constantly dwelling on how to do things better can drive you mildly NUTS.


  2. Nicola
    July 8, 2010

    Lemme guess? Weis’s? I can’t remember!

  3. July 10, 2010

    The concept is proven and brilliant – but why would anyone count the time that dishwasher is running into the time that you are doing anything – of course we can multi-task when dishwasher is running :)! What am I missing? 🙂

    • July 10, 2010

      Hi Farnoosh!

      Bear in mind that:

      a) they were pretty damn militant about managerial, time management etc stuff, so I think he was just trying to shove the point down my throat in the simplest way possible, so that I’d apply it to every other aspect of the job;

      b) I was 16 at the time i.e. stupid. I probably would have just stared at the damn thing, dreaming of clock-off time and Johnny Depp if given the chance.


  4. July 10, 2010

    Oh and by the way, regarding the whole “of course we can multi-task when dishwasher is running” thing -obviously you totally get that to the point where it seems like a no-brainer, but trust me, some people don’t. Case in point = my husband.


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