Avoid Monotony by Tinkering

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Daniel Gross, who (among other things) has co-founded a distributed AI research lab, has written a post on ways to get oneself to perform dreaded tasks. Much of this is very good advice, but one thing made me smile, because it's something I often do:

Find another way. Sometimes I'll have a dread task that I can either do manually or script. Doing it manually is faster. But if I find myself procrastinating, I'll "treat" myself to scripting it, which feels nicer in my mind, because it's a fresh framing of the problem. [bold in original]
Image via Wikipedia.
An aspect of this strategy that I enjoy is knowing that however much time (within reason) I spend writing a script, it will save me much more time, especially from having to do repetitive tasks or tasks made unnecessarily difficult, such as entering data into an MS Word template. (I usually am tempted to do this only for tasks I know I will have to do a lot, that I find annoying, or both.) I had one of these scripted down to the point of grabbing data from a web site, extracting and formatting what was needed, and dumping it into a file I could paste into the document. My need to continue doing this task ended before I had a chance to think about how I would just convert that file into Word (probably by using pandoc or the like) and automatically insert it into the document. That client, a startup, turned into a pumpkin, but not before I had saved lots of time, and got to avoid having to fight Word every step of the way for dozens of reports.

Particularly if you can script and enjoy the challenge, I highly recommend this strategy, but do look at the others.

-- CAV

No comments: