I’m dabbling with an idea, and testing whether it’s a good fit for work and life.

Thus far, I’ve been liking the fruit of it.

Basically, the idea can be expressed as follows:

If I find myself doing the same (or a very similar) task 3 or more times, it’s worth starting to look closely at that task and to figure out a better system for it.

After doing a given task a few times, you start to get the hang of it. You start to understand the bounds and contours of what needs to be done. And you start to see ways that the task can be simplified.

Especially when it comes to digital tasks, after doing something a few times, it’s often worth starting to think through how to speed up and improve the process.

… or, how to automate it entirely, so you don’t actually have to do the task any more at all.

This mirrors an adage in Permaculture that roughly goes, “100 hours of building a system that gets you what you want with by working only 1 hour per week to maintain it is much better than working 10-20 hours a week to get the same result without that system.”

Or, put another way:

Systems will always out-perform grind.

And, especially in the digital world, those systems are easier than ever to build:

So many different services can now be connected with tools like n8n or Zapier that we should basically never need to copy from one service and paste into another again (or, at least, not more than thrice).

If you blog, and want to share your posts on other platforms (like Twitter, LinkedIn, or Mastodon), there’s little reason to copy and paste those links yourself, when 5 minutes of n8n configuring can do the job for you.

I had a big data-management project I was tasked with this week. It involving processing, renaming, and organizing over 3,000 different audio files. Had I done everything manually, it probably would have taken me like 50 hours of work. But, I ended up writing a couple fairly simple shell scripts to automate some parts of the project. This ended up saving me over 10,000 clicks, and dozens of hours of work!

Justin Wernick’s recent post says it aptly:

When at all possible, “Make The Computer Do It!

It doesn’t work for everything, and there are more than a few tasks in life that can’t be automated.

But, when the same task needs to be done many times, it’s almost always worth trying to improve how that task is done.

P.S. I’m loving the tension that comes from considering the contrast between “tasks” and “habits” when it comes to this “rule”. Routine, rhythm, and habit have been life-giving to me in this season. This week, I made the same breakfast basically every day. And I’ve probably made well-over 5,000 coffees with my Porlex Mini and my Aeropress over the course of the last 10 years.

If those are “tasks”, I’m definitely breaking my own rule, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Maybe there’s a difference between good routine and habits, and what Taylor Troesh describes as “grind”?

Not sure. Like I said, it’s still an idea that I’m just dabbling with. 😁