Tools / Automation
I’m not an anthropologist or kinesiologist, but using a broad definition tools can be thought of as an extension of the human body.
- A hammer allows you to swing your arm and impart more force than your hand could
- A knife / scissors lets you cut apart materials with more precision than tearing with your bear hands
- A bicycle lets you travel faster / more distance than your feet can carry you
I like to apply similar logic to computers, automation tools, etc.
- PowerShell / Bash / can automate processes or tests rather than needing to manually run them
- Automated alerting / bill pay keeps my financial accounts in check without needing to manually monitor them
- My blog engine (WordPress at the current time) handles cross posting to Twitter and LinkedIn as well notifying any followers instead of my manually taking those actions
- Azure DevOps allows my customer to create build and release pipelines to automate the tedious work of building and deploying an application with little to no manual steps
There is (almost) always an upfront investment in configuring, purchasing, etc. these types of tools or automating processes but the end result is generally an improvement in productivity / time to complete / etc. Well-defined and / or simplistic processes are great targets for automation, but be careful that you don’t fall into the trap of automating the wrong things or spending more time building the automation than you’ll gain. When in doubt check XKCD for funny examples like below.
Don Jones has a good article on “What’s not worth automating?” if you are interested in reading more on this topic.
The right tool (song) for the job
My dad is an electrical engineer who moved into sales many years ago. He is also very handy around the house and likes to help me with house projects when he visits. On many occasion a part, a bolt, or some other thing will get stuck. Rather than trying to force what we are working on he always seems to know the right tool, compound, etc. to solve the problem with the least amount of effort needed.
Since I personally work with computers more than I do with my hands I find it helpful to get in the right mindset when I have a task to complete. The task could be a blog post to write, some code to review, a set of screenshots to edit, etc. Rather than fighting with myself (i.e. forcing it too much), I find it better to tune out my brain and let the words, code, or ideas flow more easily.
In order to help tune out my brain I have a playlist (called “Repeat All Songs”, link here) that I’ve moved with me from music service to service (now Spotify). This playlist contains dozens of songs that I can (and frequently do) listen to on single-song repeat over and over. These span classic rock, techno / house, instrumental, and other genres. I don’t categorize the songs on my playlist but when I need inspiration or help getting into a specific mindset I browse through there, find a song that fits what I’m looking for, and hit play.
For those looking for some new songs to listen to on repeat here are a few from my recent rotation:
- Achilles Last Stand – Led Zeppelin (rock)
- In My Mind – Dynoro (electronica / dance)
- Fly – Ludovico Einaudi (contemporary piano)
- Nostos – Jean-Michael Blais (contemporary piano)
- Lazy Eye – Silversun Pickups (rock, one of my fav bands)
- Amsterdam – Guster (alternative / rock)
- Brighton Rock – Queen (rock)
- This World [Westworld Season 1] – Ramin Djawadi (instrumental)
How about you, do you have any favorite songs for single-song repeat? Feel free to share back a link or recommendation.