Maintenance. Let’s face it, it’s not a sexy concept, is it? It smacks of drudgery and duty, to me at least, something that you really ‘should’ do, but which often falls by the wayside in place of something more exciting and shiny.
As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Hocus Pocus
“Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.”
And yet, recently I’ve been thinking about maintenance more than usual.
Looking after a website as part of my job means there’s always something that needs checking over. Even outsourcing some tasks to an external agency, there are still things that need maintenenance.
The maintenance ranges from the less frequent tasks, such as domain renewal, through to the daily analysis of traffic, with a view to updating content design to improve user journeys.
But it’s not just work that’s made me think about maintenance. At home, we have household appliances that, I know, run much better when they’ve been cleaned and declogged – from the vacuum cleaner to the toaster.
It’s not as if they’d suddenly stop working without that upkeep – the maintenance – but they seem more efficient and are (probably) less likely to go kaput with that 10 minutes of care once a fortnight.
I’m not claiming to be brilliant at this – in fact, once every two weeks is a pipe dream in many cases, – but the knowledge is there.
And then there’s looking after myself, something the pandemic has made me more aware of.
I’m not talking hygiene (I’ve got the shower, shave and deodorant bit pretty much sorted, thanks), but the stuff on top of that:
- making sure I eat properly: fruit, veg and other plant-based foods
- keeping up some sort of daily exercise – in my case it’s usually swimming, but also at least 30 minutes’ walking
- the occasional catch up with friends (even if virtual)
But on top of that, there’s checking in on my own mental health. Running through a checklist to see if things are OK. Rewind 10 or 15 years and I doubt I’d have done that – at least not in time.
Now, if I spot any warning signs, I have a think about what I can do to help myself. It might be that I increase the frequency that I practice mindfulness, do a bit more exercise, a bit less staring at a screen. You get the picture?
So maintenance may be dull and something most of us avoid, but there’s good reason for it – in whichever sphere it’s required.
As Robert Pirsig wrote in the ultimate book on this topic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,
“The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself.”
And it’s tough to argue with that.