Write code. Sometimes.

Sahil Lavingia
Sep 15, 2014 · 2 min read

I used to write code every day. It turns out, that doesn’t scale. As Gumroad has grown from 1 to 20 people, common advice is to “stop writing code.”

As a technical founder, my default is writing code. Especially when the alternative is a task that bears no immediate fruit (e.g. recruiting, PR).

As a CEO, a big part of my job is putting processes into place to help others (and myself!) do their jobs, and keep the company moving forward with focus and speed. It also became an opportunity to get my fix.

Approaching process with code.

I’ve found it useful to spend a few hours every other week on internal efficiency, approaching our process with code in mind. “What piece of code can I write that automates myself or others?”

I’ve found these fall into two buckets:

  • Minimizing context switches
  • Automating non-creative work

For example, I found myself at the end of every week going through Asana and making sure everything was up-to-date. It’s a lot easier to be move fast when you trust its information. But when you’re busy, it’s easy to forget to update a task after a missed due date. And old tasks can get really old.

So I took my behaviour, and DRYed it. Now, there’s a little bit of Python that runs every morning and makes sure that every task that is either overdue or stale (over 30 days without an update) gets a comment:

The code does a better job than I do. It does it faster. It’s consistent. It doesn’t get lazy and stop.

Another thing I’ve tried to do is figure out how to bring certain actions “inline.” The minute you have to open up a new tab or switch applications, it’s game over for your productivity.

For example: we use HipChat a lot. And often, we’ll have a discussion that leads to an action item or two. But it used to take a few steps to jot it down in Asana. So inevitably, if something was super minor, we would just forget about it.

So I built a little plugin for our chat bot that makes it super easy to add something to Asana, from within Hipchat:

Of course, these aren’t revolutionary. It’s a few hundred lines of code, max. But it saves people minutes (!) per day, and that adds up.

Everyone else is busy. I get to save them time while getting my fix. Plus, I’m one step closer to working myself out of a job.

Sahil Lavingia

Written by

Founder and CEO, Gumroad

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