The Joylessness of Repetition

Posted on November 24, 2011



I’ve recently been on a crusade. A crusade where I would travel to the far off lands of my habitual existence to wipe out the cursed demons that are the repetitive and tiring chores of living. Ok, so I’ve tried to make this exercise of rationalising my life more interesting and fun through my child-like imagination but in actual fact I don’t think I need to. Looking at the activities you do in life or work to see if you can do it quicker and smarter, is exciting and fascinating. The reason why it hits my tickle spot is clear. It means I can have more time to spend with my wonderful girlfriend or just to waste away in front of the tv or move on to more career value adding work.

Take exhibit A. I am a notorious online shopper and price comparison fiend. Its like I have some psychological defect when I shop online, because every time I need to buy something, I compare every relevent product or service to get the best price and value. However when I do this, I often spend a considerable amount of time in obtaining only an incremental improvement in price / value compared to the first best option I found. End result: 2 hours spent finding the best onion chopper for £14.99. What a stupid and poor use of time I say! What I do instead is I hire a personal assistant for $5USD an hour to do my comparison shopping for various items in the same amount of time. I get them to find and list all the products that fit my criteria and the website they found it on. End result: £150 price improvement saved on a flight to Australia (compared to what I’ve got before) and at least 2 hours of emotional grief saved.

Exhibit B. I have another psychological defect as I’m unable to sit at my desk without repeatedly checking my inbox every 5 minutes. I’ve been tempted to videotape myself because I’m sure, like a drug addicted coke sniffer, I go back to my inbox, at least 15-20 times a day to get my fix. Subsequently, I get no work done because I get all caught up in answering emails and by the end of the day, all I have to show is disappointment and a reaffirmed title of ‘Outlook monkey’. My solution to this? Simple, close my email and only check it twice a day. It takes a lot of will power and I still succumb to the sweet honey pot that is my inbox, but I get so much more work done.

There are lots of other examples where I repeatedly do things in an inefficient or time consuming way and I find it quite satisfying when I change these habits and realise I’m saving heaps of time. The goal here is spending time doing what you want to do rather than doing things you should do, but don’t enjoy. So what are you waiting for?

Posted in: Productivity, Skills