HOWTO: be more productive

by Volker Weber

Last week I read Aaron Swartz' HOWTO and forgot to post it here. Read the whole thing, after you saw his conclusion:

There are a lot of myths about productivity -- that time is fungible, that focusing is good, that bribing yourself is effective, that hard work is unpleasant, that procrastinating is unnatural -- but they all have a common theme: a conception of real work as something that goes against your natural inclinations.

And for most people, in most jobs, this may be the case. There's no reason you should be inclined to write boring essays or file pointless memos. And if society is going to force you to do so anyway, then you need to learn to shut out the voices in your head telling you to stop.

But if you're trying to do something worthwhile and creative, then shutting down your brain is entirely the wrong way to go. The real secret to productivity is the reverse: to listen to your body. To eat when you're hungry, to sleep when you're tired, to take a break when you're bored, to work on projects that seem fun and interesting.

It seems all too simple. It doesn't involve any fancy acronyms or self-determination or personal testimonials from successful businessmen. It almost seems like common sense. But society's conception of work has pushed us in the opposite direction. If we want to be more productive, all we need to do is turn around.

I turned around. 14 years ago. And I can put it in even simpler words: You have to love what you do. If you don't love what you do, you may have the wrong job.


klingt als sei da schon ein Genius at work :)

Rainer Wasserfuhr, 2006-01-02

Alles sicher richtig und es klingt auch noch so schön einfach - ist es aber (für mich) nicht.

Alexander Weihs, 2006-01-03

This is a great post. I can't agree more. I am doing what I can to move myself to exactly the same place. Listening to your body, that is great advice. Intelligence is resident in a lot of places we forget to look.

John Vaughan, 2006-01-04

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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