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Reblogged:If You Must Procrastinate, ...

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It Can Pay to Be Creative About It

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Image by Magnet.me, via Unsplash, license.
"I've seen a lot of writing tools that came out of someone writing a dissertation or some other book," remarks John Cook in a post he titles, "Make Boring Work Harder."

Within, Cook describes a common practice that is similar to my own, except for the fact that I am usually motivated by the desire not to drive myself crazy with "repetitive tasks or tasks made unnecessarily difficult," say, by a lousy software interface.

I completely agree with him on a point I hadn't thought of, when the objection arises that such activity might be procrastination:
Even so, developing the tools may have been a good idea. As with many things in life, it makes more sense when you ask "Compared to what"? If the realistic alternative to futzing around with scripts was to write another chapter of the dissertation, then developing the tools was not the best use of time, assuming they don't actually save more time than they require.

But if the realistic alternative was binge watching some TV series, then writing the tools may have been a very good use of time. Any time the tools save is profit if the time that went into developing them would have otherwise have been wasted. [his emphasis]
So even if time spent scripting or coding doesn't save time overall, it can have other benefits, even if only in the realm of doing something at least related to the task at hand. In addition, Cook notes, the act of creating something is much more likely to do something binge-watching television can't: build momentum.

I'd add that the experience gained by creatively solving a problem can save time down the road on other things, either by making a later problem within your (now larger) skillset or because a later problem is similar enough to the one you're playing around with now, while you're stuck.

-- CAV

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