Procrastination is Good

November 16, 2006  

A reader sent me the following excerpt from “Good and Bad Procrastination” by Paul Graham:

“When I think of the people I know who’ve done great things, I don’t imagine them dutifully crossing items off to-do lists. I imagine them sneaking off to work on some new idea.”

“Any advice about procrastination that concentrates on crossing things off your to-do list is not only incomplete, but positively misleading, if it doesn’t consider the possibility that the to-do list is itself a form of type-B procrastination (something less important). In fact, possibility is too weak a word. Nearly everyone’s is. Unless you’re working on the biggest things you could be working on, you’re type-B procrastinating, no matter how much you’re getting done.”

“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.”

This is so beautifully said. Activity for the sake of activity is worthless. Most goals are about controlling the uncontrollable and are based on a limit set of data. Instead, play a game that is big and bold, and gets you jazzed up. This will more likely lead to unpredictable, spectacular success. And you’ll have one heck of a time in the process.

One of my next blog entries will be on the distinction between finite and infinite games.

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