Being Lazy (Or: How to work less)

I’m currently working in the family business, and have been since I graduated in July. Gift Selection is a promotional products distributor (supplying anything which can be printed with a company logo), and we’ve built a number of specialised product websites including: Mugstore, Umbrella Store, World of Mugs, Promo Store, Pens2Order, Sweets2Order, Gadgets2Order, EcoProducts2Order, and possible a few others that I haven’t worked on yet. That’s a fair few websites, and a lot of content to maintain considering each website can have up to 2000 different products!

Most of my work involves the websites in some variety or other – Copywriting, SEO, analytics, competitor analysis, and, quite  a lot of the time – graphic design. One of our newest websites, World of Mugs, needed around 300 product photos so the website could be populated and start to look ready for release. No problem, we just upload them all from a disc, right? Not quite. Once photos are uploaded to the website, our CMS automatically creates thumbnail images to display by resizing the original, and cropping if it wasn’t square. The problem was, not all the images were square – in fact, most of them weren’t. This seemingly small detail made the entire website look completely unprofessional.

Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad. Loading up Photoshop, I opened an image, trimmed away any extra white space, added some extra canvas area so the image was square, then saved the file. Then I did a quick mental calculation. It took about a minute, and 4-5 steps every time I wanted to do the same to each and every image. Working flat out, that was around 5 hours of doing the same thing, over and over again. Ouch.

There’s a fantastic quote by Bill Gates which goes something like this:

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

When working anything involving IT, there’s almost certainly a more efficient way to tackle problems than the one you’re using right now. The problem is, most people are willing to waste their own time and carry on regardless, rather than invest in a new skill which could vastly improve their productivity. Touch typing, keyboard shortcuts and scripts are all simple ways this can be achieved.

I was way too lazy to complete the task in the regular fashion. I think my brain might have exploded out of boredom.

So, using our trusty friend Google, I found a Photoshop help page where another person had a similar problem. Saving and editing the script/action to the exact properties I needed took about 20 minutes of experimentation. Once everything was set up, photoshop batch edited the images exactly how they needed to be for the website.  Total time including research? About an hour. The best thing is, I had to do the same thing for 1000+ photos just a little while later. Being lazy pays dividends.