Paying attention to small, recurring annoyances

I received a new mobile phone at work yesterday, the type that doesn’t have an auxiliary output to connect it to a headset or a speaker.

I enjoyed my upgrade until I got in my car to drive home. That’s when I remembered that my car doesn’t have Bluetooth. The only way to connect my phone to my car speakers is through an aux cable.

So last night I went on Amazon and bought a bluetooth car adapter to solve my problem. It dawned on me that I could have bought that adapter years ago, saving me the hassle of connecting the aux cable to my phone every time I got in the car. Perhaps because the hassle wasn’t so great, I never thought of it.

This situation made me wonder how many problems in my E&C program at work appear to be invisible simply because they are small enough. How many could we fix immediately if we only noticed them? How can we get better at noticing them?

I know that I often felt a small twinge of resentment when I got in my car and had to plug my phone in. Every time, I wished I had a newer car where the phone automatically connects via Bluetooth. I felt that twinge but I dismissed it. I didn’t pay attention. It was easier to dismiss it in the moment, each time, than to look for a solution. And so perhaps it is at work. We forget that spending an hour to fix a one-minute problem makes sense when this problem shows up every day.

The key is to pay attention.

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