R. Ann Parris on Productivity: Less Is More


Productivity: Less Is More by R. Ann Parris

Doing more by doing less seems like a case of something being “too good to be true”. Sometimes, though, it’s very much true. In many cases, it’s about working smarter, not harder. It’s not just taking the easy road, though. It’s also about maximizing efficiency and potential. That applies across the board, but it especially if we’re already busy and for people with physical limitations due to age, illness, and injury.

Preppers can take advantage of both passive systems that reduce inputs needed — allowing us to apply our labor and manhours elsewhere — and time- and labor-saving tools and tactics that let us work faster or more efficiently. Despite working less, we accomplish more.

Working While We Do
Passive systems come in a number of forms. They share a key characteristic: They’re functioning without our attention. Once they’re set up, they work while we do something else.

It can span all arms of daily life and preparedness, from solar heating, cooking, and dehydrating (vice a fuel-consuming stove or heater) to fishing yoyos, traps, and trotlines that are catching emergency/disaster dinners while we set up a sleeping mound, rest, scout, scavenge, or forage (versus actively hunting in addition to our other camp tasks).

Various forms of irrigation and water catchment — to include drip-back gabions and condensation catchment — and integrating livestock to perform labors like clearing, mowing, pest control, and even protecting each other are other examples.

Tools & Mech
As with passive systems, tools enable our work capacity. We’ve been turning to them since we started banging rocks and poking things with sticks. The more sophisticated the tool, the faster we can move — and move on to other tasks, rest, or recreation.

There are arguments to be made for having manual tools, and simple tools.

The fewer parts (specifically moving parts), the less there is to maintain and break. The simpler the tool, the easier it is to repair. Manual tools also tend to be quieter than electric or combustion-based tools, and they work even when the power’s out and tank’s empty.

On the other hand, powered tools let us work faster, just like it’s faster to stick an apple on a turn-handle corer-peeler-slicer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDLfUtU7Fls than peel, core and slice with a knife.

It’s also easier on bodies, commonly.

As with that apple, I can churn a plot of land faster with a walk-behind rototiller, a tiller head run off my gas or diesel or electric weed-eater, or using an animal-powered disker, plow, furrower or cultivator faster than I can with a shovel, rake, and hoe or even a push cultivator.

Not only is it faster — which leaves me hours and days to do other things, like plant those beds/rows or preserve those apples — I have a whole lot more energy left for other tasks (and I’m burning fewer calories). I’m also abusing my body less, and with some tools actually reducing some of the risks to my body. Possibly most importantly, the lowered physical labor requirements mean more people can perform the same task.

Doing less gives us time to do more.

That’s important even now as we prep while mostly also living a normal life with normal draws on our time (and finances). If we ever have to rely on ourselves for a personal or widespread crisis, the ability to maximize our productivity — and the productivity of everyone involved, regardless of age or physical limitations — will be even more important.