Priming the pump

Applying this concept from engineering to our daily lives can help us to use our time more effectively.

Every night as we’re getting ready for bed, either my partner or I will fill the kettle and set out two cups with tea bags in them. Alongside this goes whatever we need to make breakfast. It’s a small thing that makes the first acts the following day much easier.

Recently I heard the Do Lectures co-founder, David Hieatt, refer to this kind of preparation as priming, a concept taken from engineering. The process of priming is an important step when starting a pump. Priming the pump prevents air from getting trapped in the chamber which would stop the pump working effectively and over time cause significant damage. As an idiom, to prime the pump generally means taking action to help something develop or succeed.

I’ve been wondering what other ways this can be applied to our daily lives. These thoughts tend to revolve around a central question:

What can I do now to make things easier later on?

In the context of the home this could be:

  • writing a meal plan or shopping list before going to the supermarket
  • preparing lunches the day before
  • a recurring list of weekly jobs around the house

Or for work it could mean:

  • identifying the first thing to do the next day
  • leaving yourself a note about where you left off
  • configuring specific programs to open when you start up your computer

For me, the act of priming is about using my time wisely, taking a few minutes today to help me use my time more effectively later on.

How could this work for you? What could you do today to prepare for tomorrow?

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