Tell Slate Your Operations Secrets: How Do You Keep Things Running Smoothly?

How businesses get things done.
June 20 2012 11:22 AM

How Do You Keep Your Life Running Smoothly?

Tell Slate your operations secrets.

New York State Government Hosts Job Fair In Brooklyn.
There's got to be a way to make lines move more quickly.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

If you’ve been reading this Slate series on operations management, you’ve learned about all sorts of tricks companies use to make their processes quicker and smoother. Southwest’s preferred model of jet. The secrets of the serpentine line. Why Poland Spring bottles got so crinkly.

But operations aren’t just for giant corporations. For example: After reading about The Goal—the thriller, set in a manufacturing plant, that I reviewed earlier in this series—my sister found herself in an operations-minded mood. Which proved useful! The organization she works for was taking applications from teens seeking summer jobs. Lots of teens, lots of applications. The line was backing up, and frustration was mounting. Then my sis had her eureka moment. She realized a certain part of the application was disqualifying tons of candidates. So she made sure that part of the application was the first item that got checked. That way, no applicant went through the rest of the process (eating up precious interviewer time) only to be disqualified by the common trip-up. The line moved faster, and everyone was happier.

How about you? Do you have operations success stories from your workplace, or even from your life? Has your company discovered a way to run meetings more efficiently? Have you found the bottleneck in your grocery shopping routine? Maybe you’ve determined a more efficient way to cook spaghetti, or pack for a trip, or peel a banana? Let us know. We’ll round up the best operations tips and share them with other Slate readers.


Send your operations ideas to



Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
War Stories
Sept. 23 2014 4:04 PM The Right Target Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 1:50 PM Oh, the Futility! Frogs Try to Catch Worms off of an iPhone Video.
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.