‘Carthage must be destroyed’

I think “lifehacking” is trendy buzzword bullshit from start to finish and I know where you can shove each and every one of your 43 folders. The concept seems to be that you could finally improve your “productivity” if only you had a better system. Because that’s your problem, surely – a system. You just need something external to bring order to your life.

Well, your external system sounds to me like an ex-gay camp. It sounds like you’re signing up for a scientifically dubious mechanism to expunge something about yourself that you hate. If you’re a procrastinator, then you’re a procrastinator. You are not some other kind of person who is inexplicably afflicted with procrastination. You are not a whole, complete, productive person with this added other thing (or this subtracted other thing). You are one entity complete with procrastination.

The same applies to distractability; the difference there is it can be treated with medication. You probably know people with ADD who are taking pills. I expect you’re perfectly willing to accept that these people have a brain neurochemistry that makes them the way they are. You certainly accept that concept with depression and bipolar disorder, right? (Even Anil Dash is bipolar and treats it with medication.) You accept it because distraction, depression, and bipolarism are brain states. That’s noncontroversial, isn’t it? That we’re talking about the brain and not the mind?

Procrastination is the same. You cannot wish your procrastination away. Lifehacking and some hot, sexy number of folders both constitute wishing. Procrastination is a brain state. I told you this already. Read The Midnight Disease, for Pete’s sake.

Trying to fix procrastination is like telling yourself that really giving yourself over to God will turn you straight. You are what you are and you’d better get used to it.

If hacking your life and counting to 43 solve your organization problem, then you never had a problem. You had a lifestyle.

It is thus unhelpful to read even really talented writers, like Paul Ford, who end up doing nothing but giving procrastinators even more reasons to hate themselves, wrapped up in nice quotable quotes: “When I’m not getting enough done, I get unhappy and depressed and think about the billions of years I’ll be dead before the heat death of the universe erases everything. I want to feel like I did something during my brief life besides check my E-mail.”

If that’s what you’re worried about, start doing other things that will make your life worthwhile. Doing more work cannot be one of them. You already do all the work you can. Do not bother trying harder; “trying harder” is a recipe for failure. Do not let lifehackers try to scare you straight. You are intrinsically a procrastinator and there’s nothing wrong with that. Tell yourself “This his how much work I got done” and “This is how long things are taking,” because that is how much work you got done and that is how long it’s taking.

You were a procrastinator today and, when you get around to it, you’ll be a procrastinator tomorrow.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2005.11.02 00:33. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
http://blog.fawny.org/2005/11/02/a-demain/

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