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Embrace the Grind

From Jacob Kaplan-Moss on just doing the hard work.

‘The secret is mundane, but to me it’s thrilling. The card choice is a force. But choice from those dozens of boxes of tea really is a free choice, and the choice of tea bag within that box is also a free choice. There’s no sleight-of-hand: the magician doesn’t touch the tea boxes or the teabag that the volunteer chooses. The card really is inside of that sealed tea packet.

The trick is all in the preparation. Before the trick, the magician buys dozens of boxes of tea, opens every single one, unwraps each tea packet. Puts a Three of Clubs into each packet. Reseals the packet. Puts the packets back in the box. Re-seals each box. And repeats this hundreds of times. This takes hours — days, even.

The only “trick” is that this preparation seems so boring, so impossibly tedious, that when we see the effect we can’t imagine that anyone would do something so tedious just for this simple effect.’

I’m lazy and if I can get a chance to automate or simplify a task I’ll take it but sometimes there is magic in just doing the hard work.

For example when working on a new website we often need to copy of blog content. If there is a simple way to export the posts to the new site I’ll take it but if the site doesn’t provide this and there aren’t many posts (say less than 25) then it’s often quicker to copy and past between the two sites.