I might have cracked the procrastination nut.
One of the things that's plagued me for years is that a heavy, intense period of doing lots of good stuff is frequently followed by a crash.
The crash partially negates the gains from having a good period. If you put in an excellent, intense four days of creative work, that's good. But if you can't look at your work and projects for half a week afterwards, you negate some of that progress as compared to just slowly, steadily putting in time.
What's worse is that, for me, the crashes tended to be full-on, nothing-valuable-happening. I don't mean not working. I mean nothing valuable. When I'd crash, I'd usually not be reading good books, spending time in nature on the beach, or whatever. It'd be more like getting into high stimulation distraction, where it sucks your time without giving you anything back. Without even recharging you, even.
So, I started looking at how crashes come on.
Even if you never set foot in a gym your whole life, you owe it to yourself to read "The 80/20 Rule of Lifting" -
The value of the 80/20 rule is that it reminds you to focus on the 20% that matters. You should identify and focus on these things. So in bodybuilding, what are they? I would say that the 20% that matters includes:
Which basically means: Train. Eat. Rest. Repeat. Week in and week out. Focusing on the basics will give you 80% of your results.
So if that's the important 20%, what's the 80% that's trivial? Well in my opinion it's details like these:
Etc. Etc. Etc. Honestly, that stuff doesn't make a difference. Or rather, if it does it makes a relatively small difference (20%); or only makes a difference for a relatively small few who are at the limits of their physical development. For most of us average Joes, it just doesn't matter!
Some good replies to the post "Conflict of Interest: On Confidence, and Confidence."
One of things that stood out to me is how a couple commenters assumed that because they're reasonable, other people should also be reasonable. I mean, if a doctor checks something carefully in a reference book in front of me, I think that's a good thing. You probably do too.
But many people don't think that way.
A lot of people have unrealistic expectations of the world, especially of professionals like doctors.
There was a brilliant comment by Kate Johnson, who is a veterinarian. Kate writes -
BMW Welt website.
Simon Payne, a regular reader of the site and quite a cool guy, is going to be in Munich on the 16th of May (3 days from now). He asked what to do there? I said - BMW World.
It's really, really cool. I like factories and machines anyways, and touring the factory you get to see this marvelously amazing German system of work. Excellent craftsmanship, attention to detail, safety, precision. It's really amazing, inspiring stuff.
If you're in Munich or going to go to Munich, it's highly recommended. Simon will be there on Monday if you want to grab a coffee or tour the factory with him - cost is 8 euros, and if I remember correctly they give you some nice snacks and drinks with that anyways.
Sebastian, This is maybe not something you want to blog about, but I found myself thinking about this morning. I'm curious as to what you see as your current biggest challenges and weaknesses. Your written voice is wonderfully confident, I'm wondering if I met you the kinds of things we'd talk about that you struggle with in terms of discipline, getting things done, and making a better life for yourself. Dan
Sure, Dan. Good question.
For me, this is a rolling sort of thing. I'm always looking for what's broken and trying to fix it quickly, or at least take a dent out of it. But here's a few -
Family and household building - One of the top things I'd like is to be a parent and start having children. I think it's harmonious with everything else I'm working on and I feel like I'm as ready and prepared as I'm ever going to be.
There's some challenges with that, though. Building a generally successful relationship and building a household are a little bit different. My lifestyle conflicts a little bit with some of the stability that'd be desirable for parenting, and I'm not wealthy to the point where it'd be trivial to travel back and forth from home and other places.
My friend Joshua Spodek recommended The Invisible Gorilla to me, and I got it on audio. I've been listening to it while running errands and going to the gym recently.
The most striking thing from the book are the sections on confidence. By acting confident in your abilities and predictions, people's confidence in you goes way up. If you hedge your predictions, act uncertain at all, or consult reference material - their confidence in you goes down, and satisfaction in your performance also goes down.
So what's the problem? Well, the scariest part for me was talking about doctors. They set up an experiment where they filmed two actors playing a doctor and a patient.
The patient was asking the doctor about getting antibiotics prescribed before a dental procedure, which might or might be necessary and helpful. They presented one of three scenarios to viewers and asked them to rate the doctor and how satisfied they'd be with the doctor:
Scenario #1: The doctor prescribes the antibiotics confidently, with no hedging or uncertainty.
I'm really grateful to the readers here for feedback on Chatty, and to the Chatty team for inviting us to the beta test.
Lots of good feedback. The biggest complaint users here had was that the Chatty box would pop up every time you navigated to another page. The second biggest was the lack of login options - Facebook connect was the only way.
That said, I really admire how the team at Chatty has gotten it up and running and how they're already contacting people who run sites and blogs. It's imperfect - they're in beta testing after all - but that attitude of get something workable out the door and into people's hands is great. Big admiration there.
Despite some user interface and login hassles, I think people would have really enjoyed Chatty if we'd gotten some good conversations going. That didn't happen - partially this could be a "luck of the draw" thing, where if two site users at the same time had gotten into an interesting conversation, other people would have jumped in.
Of course, you know I don't believe in luck! I installed Chatty without really a comprehensive plan for it. I said, "ah, screw it, let's just try it out" - and then not much happened. With a cohesive plan on my end, I think conversations could have really gotten going.
A lot of times, people worry about new prosperity, automation, and technology. This is from a Hacker News comment -
"You really gotta wonder how this is gonna turn out. How are dumb people supposed to earn a living when technology makes all the jobs for dumb people obsolete?"
Every time new automation is invented, people think is going to happen. Seriously, this goes back to pre-Industrial Revolution times. Any time part of the labor process is automated away, people think that there's going to be permanent economic damage, and they're consistently wrong.
We'll adapt. There's always new things to be done. Personally, I'm betting on a greater diversity of creative and artistic work happening - people in core industries that are going to remain and grow in profitability (technology, raw materials, energy, consumer goods, construction, etc) will have more surplus income to spend on personalization, customization, different and more unique kinds of entertainment, etc.
I'm doing some work for an old friend of mine.
His situation is interesting. Not too long ago, he lost his job and got divorced, and otherwise his life got pretty screwed up and off-track.
He left the United States, took a job below his old skill level for a while, and then stopped that and started a company. Now he's living an exceptional life, and on the verge of making a lot of money.
I thought that was awesome, and I was quite happy for him. After we'd gotten done going through a lot of numbers, choosing some vendors, designing some systems, and otherwise figuring business out on the phone, we talked personal life. I said, "Man, I'm so happy for you. So much is going right. Congratulations."
He wasn't excited. He was a little worried.
Adam Limehouse writes in about "The Cognitive Costs of Doing Things" -
First off, very cool article.
Second off, I have a question/conflict about the language you used when talking about ego/willpower depletion. I would suggest that instead of talking about it in terms of a battery (something that can be depleted, must be recharged from the outside and eventually wears out) it would be better to approach this in terms of a muscle group many people have allowed to become lax (a virtue ethics perspective if ever there was one). I think the advantage here has to do both with the need for external charging intrinsic in the metaphor of batteries and with the status in most Americans minds of the possibility of becoming physically stronger as something they can do. We might pursue this as a sort of meta-willpower.
Would love to hear your thoughts about this, Adam