Balancing Change Is Awesome
Written on February 29, 2012
I often find myself battling the balance between efficiency, essentially what I know and have been doing all along; and improvement, trying and implementing new technologies and techniques with the hope that they will lead to greater efficiency and/or enjoyment in my work.
For example, in the last year or so alone I’ve picked up and incorporated into my standard toolbox:
- HAML (I much prefer HAML markup to standard HTML when working on apps)
- SASS & LESS (precompiled css for the win!)
- Ruby on Rails (should have done this a long time ago) and piles of useful Gems that make my life a thing of beauty
- Codekit (sass/less and js compiling on the fly with syntax checking and auto-browser-refreshing)
- Sublime Text 2 (adios Textmate!)
- Fireworks (I still prefer Photoshop)
- Git (I can’t believe I wasted time with SVN)
- Freshbooks (Billings wasn’t cutting it for me)
And that’s just scratching the surface. Each of those items took time to research, learn, assimilate to, port projects or data to, and so on. Some of that time is in the context of a project, so not all of it is at a “loss” for billable work, but I can’t help wonder…
If you don’t change much or often, can you make more money?
I’m not saying this is true, or the right way to do things, but I spent a hell of a lot of time each year learning technologies that may or may not actually contribute to my bottom line. If I just wrote PHP or CSS the way I’ve done it for the last 8 years… I would bill more hours. I would finish more projects. I would have more free time.
But I would enjoy myself much less, and just like the education system I’d be outdated in a matter of time. The key is to balance what you know will help and how long it will take to adapt to it, and weight that against the cost. When you know you wouldn’t go back to the old way, you probably made the right choice.