April 25, 2021

Diagnose The Problem

This is the seventh in a series of short essays I wrote as part of the Ship 30 for 30 program. You can read all thirty essays here.

I nearly wasted $200 today.

My coffee machine wasn’t working this morning. Life without it is not something I want to contemplate. So, when my machine kept cutting out, I was ready to order a new one on Amazon Prime, so I could enjoy the black gold again tomorrow.

But, before clicking Buy, I checked the manual. It wasn’t much help. It said if the machine cuts out, turn it off and on again. I had already tried that—several times. It was not the solution.

So I Googled my machine’s symptoms. Right away, I found a coffee lovers’ forum post that diagnosed the problem and recommended a remedy. I tried it, and my machine worked.

Seemingly unrelated, though not without parallels, I am the father of a 10-month-old son. Like all new parents, my time is no longer my own. Pre-fatherhood I had ample time to write and work on projects. Now I’m lucky to snatch a few minutes each day.

Or so I thought until I audited how I spent my time. A few months into fatherhood, I felt like I didn’t have time to get anything done. But that auditing allowed me to diagnose what the real problem was. I had downtime; I was just too tired to do anything with it.

The solution? Start going to bed (much) earlier. That way, I could use my free time productively instead of napping or recouping my energy. Now I write daily.

When you encounter a problem, there is usually a solution within reach. You just have to diagnose it first.
And the issue with my coffee machine? Turns out the steamer button had gotten depressed, which was triggering the auto-cutout when I turned the machine on. Diagnosing that saved me $200 and meant I got to drink coffee today.