Plannedscape Postings


Cookie Sheets Metaphor
How To Work Smarter Instead Of Harder

Posted by Charlie Recksieck on 2022-09-29
I'll warn you; this post could seem facile and trivial but there are some legitimately good nuggets of life advice in here.

Good Habits Indicating A Good Programmer Mentality

In a previous blog post we got into the heavy philosophical debates of "tabs vs. spaces", putting both socks on first vs. going sock, shoe, sock shoe among others. We tried to engineer and reason our way through the chicken or egg conundrum.

I like to think that a good logician makes for a good computer programmer. In reality I think there are some slice-of-life practical habits that are great tells for somebody's ability to use logic.

Ice Trays - Cracking only a few cubes of ice out of a tray and then putting the half-filled ones back in the freezer is a sign of a laxed attitude. It's inefficient and one of the little things that means you are not organized. If I want to find a real team player, I'll find somebody who proactively cracks all of the ice trays to stock up and then fills them all semi-regularly.

Toilet Paper Rolls - Whereas the sloppiness with ice trays indicates laxness, but people not replacing empty toilet tissue rolls or leaving the new roll just on top of the sink or the floor? I'm sorry to tell you this, but that is a cry for help. These people are living in chaos and tough to work with.

Towels On The Floor - If you have a teenager living in your house, you might see this one a lot. The most unforced error in the world of inefficiency. Let the wet towel dry and you won't get mold.

Rinsing The Coffee Cup - Coffee is a tough stain to wash out 4-8 hours later. So why not rinse it as soon as you put it in the sink?

Place For Your Keys And Wallet - If you don't have a go-to place for your keys in your house, you are living a confused life.

When interviewing developers for a job position or subcontracting opportunity, I would absolutely love to be able to ask potential applicants about the unfilled toilet paper rolls or have surveillance photos of the ice trays in their freezer.

Cookie Sheets

While everything I listed above are errors of omission and, frankly, laziness - I really wanted to write today about an error of working too hard at something. Cleaning your cookie sheets.

I've got a smart and successful lawyer friend who also has the most weather-beaten cookie sheets I've ever seen. Yes, they're durable and still usable though they probably require more cooking spray or parchment paper than a new Teflon cooking tray. But the amount of scrubbing he has to do is simply amazing.

It's not a good use of time for somebody who bills $300 an hour to spend 20 minutes scrubbing a piece of metal that costs $5 at the store. Frankly, it's not a good use of time for somebody making minimum wage to have to spend 20 minutes each time to clean that thing.

Sure, we all love what Max Weber described as "the Protestant work ethic". It's a great trait. But be smart. Just because you know how to change your car's motor oil doesn't mean you should change your own oil. When the place down the street can do it for $29.95 (or less) and dispose of your old oil vs. you without a convenient bay chamber underneath or a car lift so you're scrambling under a car and buying 4 quarts of oil at $7 to $9 each - why in the world WOULD you change your own oil.

Lessons Learned?

In our software developer context, it's probably just this: 1) Don't make decisions based on laziness, 2) Be organized, 3) Be efficient, 4) Don't be afraid to buy instead of build.

Or just learn this lesson: Buy yourself a new cookie sheet once in a while. You deserve it.