Will you take the shortcut or this magic formula?


As a project, my sister has to create a similar pattern to the picture above. She then has to cut out all the small white spaces in between the lines.

The straight forward way is to draw by hand, take a cutter, and start cutting. She expects the whole process to be so time consuming that she won’t make it in time. She expects the process to take a week. I’ve been there.

I know from experience that the process takes a day. 2 days at most. Event though I told my sister the realistic time frame that the project would take, she wasn’t convinced.

So she starts looking for a shortcut. “I can cut it using a lazer cutter.” She says to herself. “But then I need to create the file digitally. I can do that. But I don’t know how to use Illustrator. I’ll have to learn how to use Illustrator. But that’ll take time. I can’t do it. Hanane! What can I do to cut this pattern?” and she goes on like this for 3 days. Yes you read that right. 3 days of trying to find a shortcut.

If she had accepted that she has to do the hard work. If she sat down from day one and started doing the hard work, she would’ve been done is a couple of days.

Do you mostly look for the easy way out? Do you find it hard to accept that most things are hard to do and require hard work?

By searching for an easier way, you always end up doing nothing. You end up wasting a lot of time in your quest to avoid doing the hard thing. And that’s not all.

It turned out that the hard thing ends up taking a lot less time than you had ever expected. And it also turns out that the hard thing is a whole lot easier than what you expected it to be. Sometimes it’s unbelievably silly.

Cutting that pattern above is not hard. Nor will it take a week. It took me a day when I did it. Accept to do the hard work. Do the hard work. Skip looking for a shortcut. You’ll get a lot more done. Guaranteed. And there’s an up side to it.

Once you’re done with the work, people observing from the outside will be amazed. Why? Because, just like you, they too will have expected the project to take a lot of time and be extremely hard. They didn’t do it. They don’t know that in reality it took much less time and effort. And so they will amazed.

Keep doing the “apparently” hard work, consistently, and people will constantly be amazed at all the “hard” things that you keep producing. They’ll wonder where you get the time and energy. “You must have a magic formula.” They’ll tell you. And now you do.

It’s now the 6th day, the project is due tomorrow, my sister decided to take the lazer shortcut just yesterday. She probably won’t make it. One day is not enough for her to learn illustrator, draw the whole pattern digitally, get it cut, and then color it.

I did tell her all of this on day one. Do you think telling someone about a lesson is enough for them to learn it? Apparently not. Just like you won’t learn this lesson until the next time you take the shortcut and suffer the consequences.

In your next project, will you try the magic formula instead?


Twitter: @williamchoukeir

Related: Have you ever been obsessed with being productive?

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2 Responses to Will you take the shortcut or this magic formula?

  1. nsrns srks says:

    I do that a lot, I tell myself that looking for an easier way is just an alibi for procrastination.

  2. Anonymous says:

    nsrns, it takes courage to be aware of it, and admit it. Kudos. Love you.

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