Are you working efficiently?
Fall 2021

Have you ever asked yourself if in fact you are working in the most efficient manner possible? Of course there are many factors that play into the answer to this question, so let’s explore this further.

You wake up in the morning at your regular time and do your normal routine. Now whether you are working inside or outside, one of the key elements to starting your day is your nutritional intake. In order to work most efficiently, you will need to have given your body and mind the fuel it needs to implement the various tasks and keep you performing the best you can until your first break. For many inside workers, this break may not come until lunch time or may have simply involved having another coffee, topping up the two that you may have had for breakfast. If coffee is your staple morning breakfast, then you will certainly not be able to perform your best as you are hyped up and becoming dehydrated. Have your coffee and augment it with some healthy choices like cereal and/or fruit.

So now you are at work, hopefully well nourished, and ready for the challenges you will face which don’t take long to appear. Do you have an up-to-date computer, printer or other technical devices needed to be conducting correspondence and tasks efficiently? If not, then as you know, it doesn’t take long to get bogged down and frustrated with intermittent internet, crashing hard drives or just plain outdated and slow performing software. Very quickly under these circumstances your stress level increases and your efficiency is seriously compromised, not to mention poor productivity and customer response.

If your job requires you to use various tools of your trade, are they the right tools for the job? For example, are you cutting properties with a push mower when you should have a ride on? Are you using a rake and hoe when you should have a rototiller? Are you shoveling materials when you should have a loader, etc.? A very common mistake in our sector is choosing cheap or simply an undersized tool or machine and asking it to perform beyond its capabilities. This invariably leads to costly repairs and/or expensive delays, and ultimately, the loss of a contract or customer. The wrong sized or inferior equipment for the job very often leads to personal injury or damage to property. Doing your research and choosing durable, properly sized equipment not only allows you to work much more efficiently, it also saves you money and aggravation in the long run. Unlike the old days when there were very few equipment choices, today the smart progressive manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in developing customized tools for almost every job imaginable. This investment by these companies was brought about by the high cost of labour and the competitive nature in business, where time is money and operator and public safety are paramount. As a long time user of STIHL products, I can attest to the fact that STIHL is one of the many companies who have made this kind of investment in all of its product line with a view to high performance and safety.

Now just purchasing the right tool or equipment for the right job is just one positive step to working efficiently. The next crucial component is proper and regular maintenance. There are two main types of maintenance, scheduled maintenance, most often done by a mechanic or qualified technician after so many hours of operation, and the other type is regular or daily maintenance. Regular or daily maintenance should be done by the operator of the machine. In my experience many of the problems encountered with equipment can be traced back to poor regular maintenance. Whether it is outdated software on a computer, a never checked or cleaned air filter, improper fuel mixes, little or no lubrication where required, dull/never sharpened blades, careless transportation and storage, and dirty or poorly maintained fuel containers, they all add up to operator neglect leading to major inefficiencies. I should also note that improper or no user or operator training is also another very common reason for lost time and poor productivity, not to mention injury or accident.

So now that we have discussed the tools we use every day and what should be done, we are at lunch time where we need to really fuel up our bodies for the last part of the day. This is an area where there is room for improvement for many of us. Fast food, soft drinks, snacks are not the best choices for getting through the second part of the day. In my day, we took a thermos with either coffee, soup or a beverage of our choice, sandwich filled with your choice of protein and a couple of pieces of fruit in order to help us get through the day. It worked very well and was also much more cost-effective. It seems today we have lost that practice to a degree and the travel time to pick-up lunch, type of food we purchase and beverages we choose are not helping us reach our peak efficiency either on the job or with our body’s healthy requirements.

Another good reason to try and bring your own lunch is because you can then take a true break in order to relax and recharge your body and mind for the afternoon ahead. Many of us seem to have developed a practice where even if we bring a lunch we stay at our desk and do not allow ourselves that stress release. Yes, you are producing, however you would be surprised what a break at lunch can do for your energy and creativity as you grind through the afternoon.

And finally, do you like what you do? Are your surroundings and work environment conducive to keeping your interest and engagement fresh and enjoyable? If not, there is no doubt that will negatively affect your work output and efficiency and lead to other more complicated problems down the road.

We all want to enjoy what we do and contribute in the most effective and efficient manner. That can only be achieved by having the right tools to work with. Fortunately, we have great people out there who work with us as peers, superiors, contractors and suppliers who are all working to make our days go smoothly. I am proud to partner with STIHL Canada, as they are one of Ontario Parks Association’ partners in education and they continue to help us in delivering our mandate of Protecting Tomorrow Today®.

By Paul Ronan, Executive Director
Ontario Parks Association