It must be about 18 years since I figured out in my first job out of school that computers and laziness went together very well.

The job was a combination of data entry and data transfer - putting data from various sources into a CRM/sales database. But when I found a little-known Windows application called Recorder (part of Windows 3.1 or 95 or whatever it was that I was using at the time) that literally recorded where your mouse was moving and clicking around the screen, I discovered that I could speed up the number of entries I was doing by a huge factor.

Whats more, this also meant that I didn't need to pay as much attention to what I was doing, which meant that I didn't get as bored, as I could distract myself with other activities. Among other things, this was when I set my personal record for Minesweeper, learnt to touch type, and learnt about the internet. Which prompted a whole bunch of other stuff…

(Unfortunately, despite the fact that I could point to better numbers that proved I was getting more work done, it didn't look like I was working harder. In hindsight, I obviously understand why, but still, it was a valuable lesson - sometimes looking busy can be more important than actually being productive...)

Anyway, Recorder has been and gone (I think largely replaced on the PC by Visual Basic) but I've been discovering what sort of things can be done with Automator and Applescript on the Mac - tools that do a similar thing to Recorder, but in a much cleverer way (ie. giving commands to applications, rather than hoping that things like boxes and form fields will be in exactly the same place every time…)

And I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself. In the space of one morning, I managed to take 646 spreadsheets in 34 different folders (poorly labelled, I might add) and turn them into 34 organised and clearly labelled Excel workbooks in the space of about 2 hours.

In those same 2 hours, I attended a half hour long meeting.

Now, I have no idea how long that would have taken to do manually- I'm guessing at least a couple of days (given the mind-numbing nature of the task and opportunities for human error to mess things up.)

The bottom line is this - if you use a computer to work but don't really know how to use a computer, then there is a very real chance that you are actually doing the kind of work that a computer could do by itself in a lot less time with just a little supervision.

But, if you are lazy enough to figure out how to get your computer to do your job for you (or at least as much of it as possible), then that puts you in a much stronger position in the possible workplace of the future.

(But you might be lonely in the office…)