Productivity is Like Cleaning a Dirty Plate

Can valuable productivity lessons be learnt from cleaning plates?
Find out below:
Let’s be honest, none of us enjoy cleaning dirty pots, pans and plates… it is tiring, boring and annoying… but, whilst cleaning a plate last night, I discovered an important productivity lesson. In fact, my productivity today has been extremely high. If you are the sort of person that puts things off for tomorrow,  this may be of use to you too.

I discovered that if I cleaned my plate directly after eating, the food and liquid on the plate was extremely easy to clean… infact, in most cases, it just glided off the plate effortlessly.

However, when I left the plate overnight and attempted to clean the following morning, the food had started to stick to the plate and become hard, thus meaning I had to scape and scrub.

On some occasions, I have left a plate for up to 5 days, and it was like removing cement, just one plate took 10 minutes of extremely hard work.

This is very similar to how tasks work in the human mind… you see, there is a scientific principle that says that a task multiplies in importance, due to the direct relation of the amount of time spent on it.

In other words, if you spend 5 months on a task, by the 5th month, it will appear vastly more important and large than it did 3 months earlier… thus leading to stress, extra effort, worry etc…

So in reality, by putting tasks off, we are making them seem more and more difficult to achieve… that is why putting off a task for one day, can often trigger a sequence whereby you dont complete the task for weeks… the longer you leave it, the harder it becomes.

So next time you are cleaning a plate, remember to go and do any tasks that you may have put off, otherwise, they will become unmanageable.


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  • Dave

    5 days to clean a plate? Spoken like a true bachelor! LOL I’ve been there too.

    Good analogy and very true! Thanks for the post.

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  • Dean Hunt

    Hi Dave,

    Ah, the life of a bachelor ;-)

    The worst part is that I pay for a cleaner twice a week, so god knows how that happened.

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  • Patrice

    The morale I got from this post is to be more organized. Do your tasks for today because tomorrow has another set of new tasks. Great post!

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  • Sarah

    Very cool ! You have hit the nail on the head – I get so many emails to read that i store to read that feel that they are weighing the system down .. from now on i will act straight away with job in hand.

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  • judyofthewoods

    I can trump 5 days by a long shot. It was probably in excess of five years. OK, so an unwashed plate ended up in storage when I moved house. I agree though, some things are a lot easier and quicker to do straight away. Old saying – a stitch in time saves nine. And if you don’t heed it, remember a Spanish proverb – tomorrow is usually the busiest day of the week. However, some jobs are easier to deal with if you leave them long enough. Once dust collects into tumbleweed you just open the door during a desert storm and see it roll away.

    Btw, just run a crudded plate under the tap, do something else for a few minutes and it will shift easily. Not that I want to discourage you from your new method ;-)

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  • Ram Ganglani

    Yes, I agree – the longer we leave it, the more it weighs on the mind and increases stress. And whilst we leave it to one side,there are other things coming in the pipeline and suddenly you have loads of things left undone or half done.
    Best to get into the habit of doing it soon ( even if it is not immediate) but avoid letting it drag. Also if possible to delegate someone who is capable of handling it, yes best to pass it on that team member.

    The load of incoming work never ends.
    So avoid getting drowned.

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