Be Aware of the Stockpile Effect

WoodpileThis week’s post is about a problem, you could call stockpiling effect. This effect is when you create a big stock of some consumable based on previous consumption, like a year’s supply of pens or printer paper just to notice that this new stock won’t last a year even closely.

Employees taking home supplies is one big issue for companies, but this is not the only reason why creating a big stock of a consumable item can turn out to be more costly than buying it when you need it regardless of the discounts of bulk purchasing.

When you have only 5% of your printer cartridge left you likely think twice before you print out this incredible Tiramisu recipe and likely rather jot down the ingredients plus 4 easy steps on a piece of paper or your planner. The more we have of something the less we value it independently of its actually worth. Have you ever had a day when you could work 6 to 8 hours on one thing just to realize you didn’t even get close to what you wanted to achieve.

It think stockpile effect is catchy, however, pertaining to time it already has a name: Parkinson’s law

“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

This law for example means that if you give yourself four hours to complete a task that you may get done in two, it’ll will take you all of the four hours. But what Parkinson’s says about time works for space, too. You know what I mean if you ever moved to a new apartment or house wondering how to fill all the empty space just to wonder a year later how you managed to run out of it. It is the same with disk space on a computer or smart phone. You’ll use it up eventually because it is there.

It seems that we can handle scarcity, but have problems to deal with larger amounts of something. We divided up the day in hours and minutes for a reason. There are possible conclusions you can draw from this observation. You can schedule your day into relative small increments like one or two hours for when you switch to another activity. You could also decide to work less or at least allow yourself a short workday now and then.

In general it is a good strategy for using resources efficiently when we treat everything as if it was scarce and if it is only by creating momentary scarcity.

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This is DO Quick Tip No 43
photo credit: Peter Ras via photopin cc

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