Featured image on blog post about the benefits of automating manual tasks

Should You Spend 3 Hours Automating a 15 Minute Manual Task?

There is a joke that goes something like “why spend 15 minutes doing a task manually when you can spend 3 hours automating it?”. While it might sound ridiculous at first, there are actually several benefits to automating tasks that would take less time to do manually.

This task (or its evil twin) will show up again

I can’t tell you how many times I had a task to do and thought it was the only time I was going to have to do it, only to face the same (or similar thing) three months down the road. Or better yet, a colleague will be telling me about a problem that I have encountered in the past and now I have a script or process I can use to save them time. 

Reduce inconsistencies and errors

Another benefit of automation is that it reduces inconsistencies and errors. When a task is completed manually, there’s always the risk of human error. Automating the task ensures that it is completed consistently and accurately every time. Even if there are errors in the automation process, they are likely to be consistent and can be fixed more easily than one-off errors that occur during manual execution

It makes you think through the problem

Now even if you never encounter that task again and the task was done without any errors there is still a benefit to automating it because it makes you think about the problem and underlying processes involved. By building a solution, you gain a deeper understanding of the task and can identify areas for improvement or optimization. You can see the different groups and dynamics involved and how it got to be something that required manual intervention. It allows you to use your human expertise combined with computational power to create better future processes that will bypass the need for manual actions.

Automating tedious and mindless tasks will always be a net-positive and allow humans to use their creativity to concentrate on more meaningful stimulating work. So the next time you’re faced with a tedious task, consider whether it’s worth investing time in automating it. You might be surprised at how much time and effort you can save in the long run.

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