As my family's Executive Chef, I was delighted to replace both my circa 1987 microwave and my 1984 crockpot with new models this month. This has the advantage of ensuring that I will not receive either item as a Christmas present.
I have, however, been struck that these two appliances represent completely opposite methods of manipulating time. The microwave, obviously, dramatically shortens the required length of time to prepare a dish (particularly the 2005 "Firebolt" model compared to my 1987 clunker). The crockpot just as dramatically prolongs the time, especially when coupled with my timer that delays the time that the crockpot turns itself on. Between the two, I buy myself enormous flexibility that would otherwise be taken away by the driving need to have a home-cooked dinner on the table every night (something that I choose to do, of course; there are other ways of making sure everyone is fed).
I wonder what a life would look and feel like that didn't need to be quite so tightly planned. As long as my kids participate in sports, I am not likely to find out.
Continuing this thought process into the legal workplace: Do I have two ways of manipulating time on projects?
The "microwave" way, obviously, is when I hyperfocus on a project and write, say, in two hours a brief that would take a normal mortal four or five hours. We all know how to do that.
This was not my preferred method of work in college. When you major in a foreign language that you learn from scratch in four years, cramming just doesn't work very well. Over time, desperation has driven me to use the microwave method of drafting much more frequently than I really like. The process has been greatly facilitated by the personal electronic brief bank I have accumulated, plus my strong keyboarding skills (thank you, tenth grade typing class).
But is there a "crockpot" way to complete work projects? I think so, and it is the "eating the elephant" technique so beloved of efficiency experts of dealing with unpleasant projects by doing just a little at a time, over time. I have, in fact, completed the occasional nasty project (obviously, not time critical) by devoting no more than ten minutes a day (over many, many days) to its completion.
In managing my workload, therefore, I can say to myself, "Should I put this in the crockpot, rather than leaving it for the microwave?" That really is a good option to have.