Monthly Archives: February 2010

Fail-Safe Systems Required

You may ask: For what?

The answer is: For everything.

For example, it could be for your tasks. Even for a student, there are multiple sources that generate tasks. They could come from notices put up by the school, requests for meetings by the study group, gyaan-sessions for juniors, credit card payments, stock market pursuits, birthdays, anniversaries and just about anything. The media is varied as well: extranet, email, internet, notice boards, announcements, informal chats et al. And these could be pushed (someone requests / commands / demands) or pulled (your choice to do something).

So where’s the deal about fail-safe systems? Well, soon one can be overwhelmed with the number of tasks one needs to track. If one has a system that uses the philosophy of immediate execution of every task that comes along, it too can get overwhelmed. There are only so many things that one can hold in their head, and far too many things vying for one’s attention. Lapses become frequent, with increasingly potent consequences. Hence the need for a fail-safe system.

It could be simply a diary, or a to-do list. However, it is the process that is important. Everything, however small or trivial should also be recorded, and ticked on completion. Sure, this has overheads and requires discipline, but is fail-safe. The additional advantage is that this gives you a neat little mechanism to track how you are spending your time, check on your productivity and perhaps improve those quintessential time management skills.

But fail-safe systems are not only at a macro level such as the above. They are also required for very specific activities, such as waking up in the morning. Sometimes, one alarm simply isn’t enough. Or two, either. One needs to leverage their neighbors, friends and just about anyone else who can be recruited for the cause to wake one up. This redundancy ensures that one does get up in the morning and be present wherever needed. The point is, the redundancy brings fail-safeness. It may not be the most efficient, but it works. Being disciplined works better, but it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

There could be a zillion similar examples. The core of this rambling is that having systems is fine, possibly a given. Having fail-safe systems is far more important. A system that fails is probably worse than not having one, simply because it brings a sense of false complacency, and one tends to rely on something that is fundamentally unreliable. So, give me my fail-safe systems. Required.

I missed a class today, because I didn’t wake up. Despite the alarm. This is the first time this term, and the safety net of attendance requirements affords my missing this particular class. But, I forgot to set up the usual fail-safe: Somehow, in the grand scheme of things, I forgot to tell my fellow classmates to wake me up. FML. 😦