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I Don’t Have Time To Do It Right. I Do Have Time To Do It Over

August 30, 2016

Do it right the first time.

We’ve all heard it, right? Not only “Do it right the first time,” but, “If you don’t have time to do it right, what makes you think you will have time to do it over?”

However, there are times were that is exactly true. I often don’t have time to do it right the first time and I figure I will just do it over. 

First, let’s talk a little about degrees of precision. I work in an industry where results are often measured to two or three decimal places. When we talk about system availability, for example, I create reports that show our results to “three nines.” That means that I can tell you if we were 99.999% available. There are 44640 minutes in a 31 day month. That means that 0.001% of a month is 45 minutes. Anything more than 45 minutes of downtime and I’m into a penalty situation. My systems are designed to allow me to meet this level of expected uptime. I have redundant systems, and extra capacity, and failover systems, all designed to keep me at less than 45 minutes of downtime in a month.

Suppose, I decided to be extra vigilant. Suppose instead of “three nines” I decided to shoot for “four nines” of availability? 99.9999% available. That would be better, right? I mean if I’m holding myself to that higher standard then I’m easily going to meet the client requirements of 99.999%. 

No. It’s a terrible idea. To achieve 99.9999% availability, I would need to have less than 5 minutes of downtime every month. It takes about 7 minutes to reboot a server. So, if I had even one unscheduled reboot, I would miss my goal. And in order to achieve a 99.9999% uptime, I would have to purchase thousands of dollars worth of additional redundant equipment. If for some reason I wanted to go to 99.99999%, (referred to as “five nines”) I would need millions of dollars of extra hardware. Five nines availability means less than 5 minutes of unscheduled downtime per year. It’s possible, but very, very expensive. 

I’ll stick with my 99.999% and try to keep away from more than 45 minutes of downtime in a month. This is exactly why I say that I often have time to do it over, but not to do it “right.” If “doing it right” means never having to endure a 7 minute server reboot, then I’m not going to do it right. I’ll set up my servers so that I can afford to “do it over,” reboot them and take the outage hit. 

It’s not just computer systems that lend themselves to a “do it over” philosophy. I scibble down these thoughts every day. My writing process is not particularly structured, but I tend to follow a pattern.

  1. Write rough draft
  2. Do an editing pass
  3. Add pictures
  4. Do final editing pass
  5. Publish

While I’m writing the rough draft, I’m not too concerned with where the pictures will go. I know that I’m going to come back later and add them. I’m also not too worried about spelling and punctuation mistakes. Sure, I’ll correct them if I find them, but if I’m typing along at 50 or 60 words per minute, I’m not going to spend too much time stopping to change a “teh” to “the.” (Why don’t all editorial programs turn “teh” to “the”? Who ever uses the word teh?) 

So, when I write, I don’t worry about doing it right. I know that I will have time to do it over. There are plenty of times where it just makes sense to do it over rather than do it “right.” 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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