Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Right Tool

A couple of weekends ago I decided to change the exhaust fan in the bathroom – the old one had been making strange noises and was due for the retirement bin.

Now this is a fairly straight-forward operation, except that exhaust fans tend to be installed fairly high and I really needed the step-ladder to do the job. The ladder being in the attic upstairs however, I decided to use a chair instead which was handier. Standing on the chair I could just about reach the fan and so I got started. But while I could reach the screws the held the fan, I couldn’t get enough of a grip to tighten them properly.

Perched precariously on the chair, arms stretched out as far as possible, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to get the thing to fit in its place properly. But I finally arrived at the inevitable realization that I needed the step-ladder after all.

It took all of ten minutes to finish the job with the ladder in place.

I was reminded yet again that you must choose the right tool for the job. Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to get the tool, but in the long term you are almost always better off.

Of course, this is not limited to the fixing of fans. I have come to this realization again and again in all manner of work. In coding, it’s often worth the time and effort to set up a good development environment with all the tools you need. In using PowerPoint, some time spent upfront in setting the template properly can save hours of work later when you need to make this one small stylistic change in all slides. The same applies to setting up styles when embarking on a significant document in Word. I don’t go in for carpentry but I’m sure the same thing applies there.

The fan, by the way, is working perfectly since then.

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