Automation and You

Automation and You

Joel Eschenbach • November 28, 2016

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  • Let's face it, we have a problem with patience.

    Everything could be faster, more efficient, and more effective. I can't tell you how many times potential new clients are frustrated when I tell them that it will take 4-6 weeks to complete their website. It usually requires a conversation about the process to help them understand why.

    I don't blame them though, when I want something, I want it now.

    In an age of productivity and efficiency, we expect everything to be done instantly. Everything is created to make our lives more efficient. This is the curse of modern technology. But maybe the curse lies in our expectations...

    One example is automation. For those who don't know, automation is the process of setting up systems and software to automatically do repetitive tasks for you in the background, while you use your time for other things. I use automation to send a whole series of welcome and informational emails to our clients over the course of 2 months after their new website is live. I love automation. It saves me time and essentially duplicates my actions over and over again. I even recommend that clients setup automation systems for their businesses.

    What's the problem then? As automation becomes more mainstream and everyone uses it, we'll be expected to get things have done even faster. Then, it's not efficient anymore. So, we'll have to come up with some other way to be more productive… and the cycle continues.

    I'm all about productivity, but is our instant culture turning us into machines bent on production? Is our identity wrapped up in how much we accomplish on any given day? Does everyday feel just like every other day, squeezing in as much as possible to meet deadlines and expectations with ever increasing speed?

    Is our instant culture turning us into machines bent on production? Is our identity wrapped up in how much we accomplish on any given day?

    On the other hand, very few of us are connected with the speed of nature. It's much slower than the world of commerce. Societies for thousands of years have prepared the soil, worked hard to plant the seed, and then waited to let nature takes its course, on its own schedule.

    And they waited…

    What happens in the waiting? Patience, conversations, community, taking time to understand each other, learning to care about people instead of what they can produce for us.

    Cultures throughout history have understood this on a deep level.

    Take ancient Israel. After the mass exodus from their Egyptian oppressors, the former slaves were given divine law through Moses. One of the laws was "remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy”, which basically meant that they should set apart one day of the week for rest. Some might see this as a legalistic ritual that an ancient culture had to follow in order to please their God. But that wasn't the point at all.

    While in Egypt, the Israelites were forced to produce bricks everyday with no rest. The meaning of their lives was only about what they could produce and how fast they could produce it. Their identity was tied up in what they did and made instead of who they were. So, God unschooled them by providing the gift of the Sabbath.

    It was a day of rest, a day to remember who they were more than what they produced. A day that's not about going faster, but about moving slower. A day focused on remembering that the world moved on without them. A day when they (and us) could truly be human beings, not humans doing.

    Sometimes we need to stop, rest, spend time with God and family, laugh with friends, eat delicious food, take a break from our disciplines and diets, have a beer (or 3), and remember that productivity and finishing things quickly is not all that matters.

    In fact, if production is our only focus, we've become slaves.

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