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The Best Nation: ProcrastiNation

I'm a somewhat notorius procrastinator. Thank goodness Paul Graham has taken up the subject and written about why procrastination isn't really a bad thing, it's just a matter of priorities. And moreover, that if you are "ambitious" then you should avoid doing tasks that pull you away from your important work.

Some particularly good sections:

Most people who write about procrastination write about how to cure it. But this is, strictly speaking, impossible. There are an infinite number of things you could be doing. No matter what you work on, you're not working on everything else. So the question is not how to avoid procrastination, but how to procrastinate well.

There are three variants of procrastination, depending on what you do instead of working on something: you could work on (a) nothing, (b) something less important, or (c) something more important. That last type, I'd argue, is good procrastination.

That's the "absent-minded professor," who forgets to shave, or eat, or even perhaps look where he's going while he's thinking about some interesting question. His mind is absent from the everyday world because it's hard at work in another.


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Good procrastination is avoiding errands to do real work.


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If you want to work on big things, you seem to have to trick yourself into doing it. You have to work on small things that could grow into big things, or work on successively larger things, or split the moral load with collaborators. It's not a sign of weakness to depend on such tricks. The very best work has been done this way.
I think the way to "solve" the problem of procrastination is to let delight pull you instead of making a to-do list push you. Work on an ambitious project you really enjoy, and sail as close to the wind as you can, and you'll leave the right things undone.



That said, I just spent a fair amount of time 1) improving my knowledge of Drupal and 2)implementing the project module as a personal todo list. Whoops.

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