Using Automation to Keep Myself Consistent

My Blogging Schedule

I make a point of posting every Tuesday and Thursday on this blog.  I’ve been consistently doing this for several months now.

Weather conditions over this week have broken some habits.  In particular, I have not written these blog posts as early as I normally would have.

This has led me to think about some ways I can use automation to help myself.

Automation and WordPress

I decided to use automation against myself (or to benefit myself, however you view it).

WordPress has the ability to schedule when your blog post gets published.  So I could write it several days, weeks, or months in advance.  WordPress then schedules that post for my own set time.

Wordpress Logo

I now have several posts in WordPress that are titled “No Blog Post”.  They have some text such as I was not consistent and didn’t take the time to make a post.  Basically, shaming for myself.

These posts are scheduled for every Tuesday and Thursday until mid-April of this year.

So one of two things are going to happen:

  1. I will consistently blog every Tuesday and Thursday as I have been, and you will never see one of those posts.
  2. I will slip a day, and a post about me not being consistent will appear on my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, RSS feeds, etc.

This is using automation in a way that forces me to either take action or get embarrassed.

It’s probably not the best solution, but it didn’t take much effort on my part to setup.

What Can You Automate?

My blog deadlines are soft deadlines – I can miss them and nothing drastically bad happens.

Without deadlines, it’s often easy to not prioritize anything unless it is urgent.  Meaning long term goals do not get done.  Automation might can help with things like this.

Suppose a piece of code needs to be refactored, but no one ever wants to touch it.  It’s too risky and might break if you mess with it.  In addition, it doesn’t have a deadline (since it ‘works’ already).

How might automation help with this?

I might consider adding a job in Jenkins (continuous integration) that gets that code from source control.  It then builds it and runs a unit test against it that fails (a very simple one that is easy to write).  Make sure that Jenkins job failure sends an email.  Now make the job run every night, or perhaps once every 2 or 3 hours.  Congratulations!  You are now going to spam the crap out of yourself.

Angry

Using automation in this way will annoy you and encourage you to take action.  Yeah, it’s not perfect, but it’s something.  Those of you who put more thought into it can probably come up with better solutions.

Over time, you can make it run the job more and more often.  Perhaps every hour eventually.  That might get the point across. 🙂

Either way, hopefully you get the point.  Automation for tasks that can’t be automated can potentially pester us/embarrass us to take the right action.

Use this idea to your benefit!

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