When you encounter in your work some boring, repetitive (possibly not-programming) task how do you deal with it? Do you try to automate it immediately? Do you postpone automation till you encounter the task twice? Do you try to delegate it? Do you try to find something interesting in it? What do you do to make the work more joyful? Learn deeper to make it more interesting? Learn deeper immediately or when you need it regularly?
closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, durron597, user40980, GlenH7♦, user22815 Aug 24 '15 at 23:52
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If automating it will take longer than getting the task done, then I'll postpone automating it until I have to do it a second time. But if I can automate the task faster than I can do it, then it's automated without hesitation.
No sense wasting time.
If there is a point and value in automating it, I will absolutely do so - time considering.
- Daily System Statistic Collection that could take up to an hour manually - Automate
- A Data Collection Routine once in a blue moon taking +- 15mins - I just do it
It depends what the job is.
Some boring repetitive tasks (like going to weekly progress meetings) can't be automated. You just have to put up with them.
Some (like not having an automated build system) you might put up with forever if you only do the build once a year.
And some - you try to automate because it lets you do other more productive things, and also removes the possibility of human error.
If I have a boring task requiring minimal brain power, I save it either for those mornings when I am lucky not to have killed myself on the way to work or for long long Friday afternoons.
Unless I can automate it of course!
I would rather spend up to 1.5 times what it would take to do it manually, automating it instead. I attempt to justify this to myself beacuse I'm learning something whilst I automate and keeping my brain active.
Typically when I am tasked with something repetitive or boring I will almost always just do it atleast once. If I can see that the task may be asked of me or someone else again (even if I'm told its a one off) I try and take notes outlining the steps that were done. That way should I chose to add some automation I know exactly what I can automate.
But mainly it all depends on the how long the task takes to complete versus the time to automate. If it's a 10-15 minute process done once a month probably won't automate. May be a good diversion for moment. 10-15 minute process daily or even weekly, probably will automate. Man hours then start to add up.
Like others have said: if it's common enough to be worth automating, I automate it. If not, I just slog through it.
And if it starts to feel like the whole job is just one big pile of boring, repetitive tasks, then I burn out and move on. :)
I have three strategies for dealing with boring, repetitive tasks:
- Automate them.
- Assign them to an intern or junior programmer.
- Do them while listening to rock music.
And like @Bobby Tables said, if I'm required to do too many boring, repetitive tasks, then I move on.