Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Automate it...

Sometimes I get shit at work because I attempt to automate things.  I do it to save time and mental anguish and most importantly - to free myself up to do other things.  Maybe that's reading or learning about a new technology or getting more stuff done in an 8 hour day then the guy sitting next to me because he's doing all his stuff manually and mistake prone.

My old boss, John Barry, was from South Africa.  He told this joke [and I'm going to butcher it...] about a guy who would run past this woman's house everyday pushing his bike.  One day the woman asks, "Why don't you get on the bike and ride it instead of pushing it?".  The guy replies, "Because I don't have time to learn." 

Do you go through your day, pushing buttons like a monkey because you don't have time to learn a better way of doing it?  You know if you just take the extra time to do something better, faster, in a more automated way - imagine how much time you will save, and imagine how that time will accumulate for each little thing you do.  Just like investing your money and compound interest.

I'm sure you do some of this already in your daily life... you use a dish washer, a garage door opener, the microwave, a washer, a dryer... all these things you use so that you can free time up to do things you want to.

There was a good post the other day by Jeffrey Snover, the Powershell Architect on this:

the next [time] you find yourself thinking about how to do something that you've done before, you should take it as an opportunity to invest a little bit and automation the activity so that you don't have to think about it again.

And that's the point.  He also references this guy called Alfred Whitehead:

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.

When I moved to Oregon, I changed how I did my finances drastically.  Instead of downloading stuff into MS Money, entering in receipts, tracking everything, etc... I automated it.  I ditched Money.  Only use the banks' website.  Bills are auto-deducted and paid.  Money is auto-transferred into savings accounts, spending accounts, etc.  I spend little or no thought on this anymore.  Maybe 10 minutes per month...  freeing up time to do other things.

Now I still enjoy boiling the water on the stove to make tea.  Sure it's faster in the microwave.  And it doesn't mean I want to do laundry the old fashioned way - some things, boiling water for tea, cooking at home instead of going to McDonald's, are more comforting...


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