Jan
06
2013

Dan Drezner and the advantages of job efficiency.

(Via Instapundit) Dan Drezner makes a good point:

There’s something vaguely comic about everyone trying to brag about how stressful their job is.  Personally, I blame television.  Shows like ER, The West Wing, and Scandal have glamorized the notion that killer jobs are friggin’ awesome and super-sexy.  You know what’s really awesome?  Doing your job so well that you can relax on a regular basis.

I had a job like that, once.  I had it down to the point where I could do a day’s worth of stuff in about three hours, then spend the rest of it on the Internet until somebody needed me for something.  And I felt precisely no guilt for it: my definition of “day’s worth of stuff” was carefully-calibrated to be better than the company’s by two standard deviations.  And when the job got stressful, I did what you’re supposed to do in those cases and figured out how to make it less stressful.  Admittedly, unique circumstances, but then they always are.

All in all, there’s a certain virtue in thoughtful laziness.  Efficient laziness.  Sensible laziness…

Moe Lane

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9 Comments

  • Spegen says:

    Constant stress like depicted cause burn out, poor decision making, and a host of oter psych problems. Also note in these shows the characters have no family life, always working or going out with coworkers to bars.

  • Jeff Weimer says:

    There’s a Story in Heinlein’s “Time Enough For Love” about “The Man Too Lazy to Fail”. I’m sure you’ve read it. I found it instructive.

  • Free-range Oyster says:

    “All in all, there’s a certain virtue in thoughtful laziness. Efficient laziness. Sensible laziness…”

    According to Adam Smith (blessed be his name) in his Wealth of Nations, that is the root of all economic and technological progress. He gives several useful examples. It might not always be the case, but it’s certainly a good general rule.

  • Finrod says:

    I’ve long taken the position that if your sysadmins are busy all the time, you’re in trouble. If they’re busy handling emergencies, then you’ve got a sysadmin staff constantly in emergency mode, which is always a bad thing; and if they’re busy not handling emergencies, they’re overworked and won’t be able to keep all the balls in the air when the emergencies do come.

    • Cameron says:

      What is worse is when you get a company or an organization that insists every case they open is an emergency and the world will fall into ruin if we don’t fix things now.

  • prayerborne says:

    My dad always says that the best kind of employee to have (or be) is a conscientious, lazy worker. “Conscientious” means he’ll do his duty, and probably then some; “lazy” means he’ll find the most efficient way to do it so he can get back to goofing off as quickly as possible.

  • Occamstool says:

    This job is the closest I have ever had, and it is still stressful. Well, being an MD is supposed to be stressful. But at least I have time to think and read in this job.

    Why the hell did you get rid of that job, Moe?

  • Crawford says:

    “Constant stress like depicted cause burn out, poor decision making, and a host of oter psych problems.”

    You know that. I know that. Sadly, a shockingly large number of people in “management” think that constant panic is the most efficient and effective way to run an organization.
    .
    The software industry came up with “agile methodologies” all of which preach that their goal is a SUSTAINABLE pace. But the managers I see who get *REALLY* excited about agile are the ones who see a release date every few weeks and think that means the team can be kept in a constant state of release crunch.

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