Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Marriage Hacking, Finding The Optimal Shower

Jay McCarthy had a problem: his wife didn't like how long it took him to shower. His solution? Write some code to optimize the process.

But I knew I could do better [than previous attempts]. I just needed some technological help to keep me focused.
Here’s the concept:

Plan out every activity that you’re going to do. I came up with 22 things on days I washed my hair and 15 for other days.

Give yourself 10 seconds per activity.

Have a music file that “announces” what activity you should be doing at each time.

Make it exciting by playing intense music (different music for each activity) during the activity.

End with a horrible alarm so you will get /out/ of the shower immediately.

With this procedure implemented, he's managed to get his showers down from 20 minutes to about 3.

Bravo! I'm impressed! This is exactly the kind of stunt I'd like to pull, though I'm sure I would spend way more time working out a solution than the actual solution would fix.

You can read the code that generates the music file here.

Incidentally, last night Shira and I did a sworkit workout, which uses a similar strategy: it tells you an activity, times you for 30 seconds, and bings when you're ready to move on to the next one. It was surprisingly effective, and made a 30 minute workout more or less fly by.

So while I mention Jay's post as an homage to the programmer's spirit, I do believe it actually has practical value.

When you're a programmer, all of life's problems are just an algorithm away from being solved.

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