Is It Worth the Time?

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I hate doing things more than once, don’t you?

It’s easy to do things more than once – sometimes you don’t even notice it. I’ve done it for years. However, as much as possible I like to try and keep from doing any extra work.

A little bit of research shows it’s pretty impressive how much effort you can save doing a little pre-work to ensure you aren’t doing the same work over and over again.

I *really* don’t like doing the same thing more than once. When I was testing backflow devices 15 years ago I’d pay my little sister 50 cents a test report to write all of the customer, tester, & gauge information down in the test report book in the order I was going to test the next day. That way all I had to do was get the device information and the test results – boom, less repeat work!

The next year I took that to the next step – I was writing down all of that device information each time I was doing the device. So I started tracking that information in a simple Filemaker program. That meant rather than writing customer & device information each time the device was tested all I had to worry about was the test results. I saved a lot of time by doing this – especially each subsequent year after I had all the device information already ready. Sure – I spent some time setting everything up & entering the information the first time but it was easily made up for the next time I didn’t do more work.

xkcd, a great webcomic, has a handy chart to showcase how much time you can spend making a routine task more efficient before it’s no longer worth it

chart of time savings

In my example above I easily saved an hour a day. But really only for 6 months out of the year. That means I could spend more than a month getting my time saving system to work and it would still be worth it over five years. Spending some extra effort upfront to save time is something that’s easily overlooked – it’s easy to keep doing the same thing as before – it’s worked, why change it? But just think how much extra time you’d have if you stepped away from paper backflow reports and did everything electronically – year one isn’t *that* much different but year 2 and beyond, you’re saving hundreds of hours a year!

My example is of course backflow-centric but this extends far beyond just that. What are other activities you do frequently that you could spend a bit of time improving? Is the savings worth it? (check the chart!)

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