On paying attention – or optimising ordinary things

Sometimes it seems to me that many people go through life with their eyes only half open. I suspect this might be because that other half is paying attention to things which I don’t[0].
I think this might be something which helps with and is strengthened by Computer Science. A continual paying attention – observing how things are and why they are that way. Then working out how to optimise – to do things better. A continual[1] desire to improve things which doesn’t stop just because what I am doing or considering is an ordinary thing that billions of people do every day without really thinking. By thinking we can actually do better.
I will illustrate this (poorly) with two trivial examples.

Emptying Dishwashers

Now it might seem that this task is incredibly simple and requires very little thought at all and to an extent that is true. However actually there are significant advantages to emptying the bottom tray first.
Why? Consider that when removing items from a dishwasher we want to maximise dryness. We don’t want wet crockery in the cupboards. Also consider that dishwashers don’t completely dry things – water tends to linger in depressions. This water can be dislodged and drip off if the item it is on is moved. Hence if we empty the top tray first then water will drop off onto items on the bottom tray just when you want them to be dry.
You probably hadn’t thought about that before. Perhaps you think me silly for mentioning it and perhaps I am.

Drying after showers

This might seem even stranger but it is something that even sensible people regularly get wrong.
Here again we wish to maximise dryness both of the person and the room. The situation we wish to avoid is that of a vast puddle stretching across the floor and drying only very slowly resulting in damp problems and wet feet/clothes.
Avoiding this is quite simple – dry in the shower where it is warmer and any drips can go down the plughole. To do this it is necessary to put one’s towel within easy reach of the shower before getting in it. It isn’t really possible to dry below the knees like this and so at the point placing the towel on the floor and then standing on it solves the problem.

Trivia? Yes. OCD? Possibly (certainly my mentioning this has previously resulted in chants of “OCD! OCD! OCD!”) but I am not responsible for the large puddle on the floor. ;-)

Unfortunately this appears to be rather poorly written and probably doesn’t covey what I want it to (it was originally written while half asleep on a train) sorry. But I think I will publish it anyway – hopefully you can enjoy laughing at how silly I am if nothing else.

(Yes Julia this counts as wittering on ;-)

[0]: For example optimising the value for money when shopping to a greater extent than I do through paying more attention.
[1]: At least continual at the limit not perhaps in reality ;-)

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2 Responses to “On paying attention – or optimising ordinary things”

  1. Malcolm Says:

    I had thought of both of those examples before. Maybe this reinforces the compsci-optimisation hypothesis. :-)

  2. Nicholas Wilson Says:

    I follow both of these as well. The wet bathroom floors particularly annoy me at times.

    Here’s another lovely thing I noticed for the first time today:

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