Why It Pays To Be Lazy

I am grateful to be a little bit lazy.

It makes me want to find the best way of doing things. It makes me strive for greater productivity with less effort. It makes me think about each task before launching into it, so that I get the best possible efficiencies and outcomes. Being lazy is GOOD.

One of the biggest skills I’ve developed as a lazy programmer is the ability to automate. Many programmers and system administrators who are lazy (I believe the P.C. term is “efficient”) have a chronic aversion to repetitive tasks. This is a healthy impulse and should be encouraged. Many would happily spend 2 hours writing a script to automate a 15 minute daily process. If you were managing one of these people, you might be furious to find out how this time is being “wasted”. But stop and think for a moment. Leaving aside the fact that computers were invented in order to automate repetitive tasks in the first place, consider whether that time is really being wasted. For this daily 15 minute process let’s consider this timeline:

Day 1: 2 hours taken, productivity: -2:00
Day 2: 0 hours taken, productivity: -1.45 (15 minutes saved)
Day 3-8: 0 hours taken, productivity: 0
Day 9 onwards: 0 hours, productivity: +0:15

After a week and a half, we go into a positive productivity time balance. The script has effectively paid for itself. Each day after that, the script chugs away bringing in time savings. If you are one who counts the cost of every minute, consider that after a year that little script would have saved just over 91 hours. That is MORE THAN A MONTH’S WAGES for your programmer. Essentially, for the cost of 2 hours work, you’ve been able to get a whole month of extra work from your programmer. Its like having 13 productive months a year!

Now stop and think how many minor repetitive process make up an average day for your programmers or administrators. You can probably identify several hours per week that are taken up with repetitive tasks that could be automated. Let them loose on automating these tasks, or if they are not lazy enough, contract someone who is, to do the automation. In a short while, you will marvel at the increase in productivity and availability.

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