Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reading is Fundamental

Here in Charlotte, they are rolling out a new recycling program. To the city’s credit, they have been very clear in their communication for the past two months we’ve received letters and postcards about our new garbage pickup day, when we’d receive the new bins and when we would start using them.

We got the green bins a few weeks ago along with a letter that was attached to the bin stated clearly not to start using the new bin until the week of July 5th. Yet that very next week, a number of my neighbors put those green bins out for pick-up. As I walked the dog, I noticed that many of them still had the letter attached, no one had read them.

On Monday I saw a neighbor placing his garbage and large rolls of old carpets out by the sidewalk. I was walking Marty as he finished. It was already hot and he was winded and sweaty. As we walked by him, I reminded my neighbor that this was the week garbage pick-up was moving to Thursday.

He looked stunned. He glanced up and down the street and only saw a few other garbage bins on the curb . He shrugged and said, “I didn’t have time to read all that recycling stuff.” With that, he began taking all that garbage back into the garage.

A full decade into the 21st century and the technological advances that were supposed to free us – cell phones, email, and laptops – keep us busier than ever. In fact, for many, it’s become a badge of honor to say that we are ‘too busy’.

We are too busy to be bothered with reading emails and mail. We use the circular file for most of our mail before reading important notices. We delete emails before we read them, or better yet, we 'skim' them so that we can say we read them when really we have no idea what the email really said.

We don't sweat the details and in turn, we end up, like my neighbor just sweating more. Little things become big things or at least larger inconveniences when we don’t handle them.

My neighbor, who didn’t have time to read, had time to take all that garbage out just so he could turn around and take it all back just so he could bring it back out today. How many meetings have been missed because someone didn’t have time to read the update? How much time have you had to spend getting someone up to speed on a project because they didn’t have time to read the emails and the memos?

The irony is that most of the email/mail that we don’t have time to read wouldn’t take that long in the first place.

Take the time to do it right so you don’t have to take the time to do it again.

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