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    If that same 2 hour task crops up twice, I have broken even, and if it comes up three times, I’ve come out ahead.

    I’ve always liked to look at the case where you come out behind as just discount practice. If you spent 4 hours automating, and only gained 3 hours back from the resulting code, you got 4 hours of practice for the cost of 1.

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      As a person who switched to management years ago, but genuinely enjoying programming, I find practicing extremely important. In the long run I even plan to become an individual contributor again. My recipe is to alternate between coding challenges that force me to read more theory, and writing small projects like yourself, especially in areas where I was never exposed before.

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        As someone of rather limited talent, I

        Big kudos for this, I hope that one day I will be confident enough to say the same thing about myself.