Work as Procrastination

We can define all kinds of things as procrastination: Surfing the web, walking the dog, doing the dishes. How about work?

Seldom do we see work as procrastination. But isn’t work often a form of procrastination, preventing us from doing what we actually should be doing?

A few things come to mind, in escalating order:

  1. Getting to inbox zero instead of working on project X.
  2. Working on project X instead of working on the much more important project Y.
  3. Working on project Y instead of solving a long-standing conflict with a co-worker.
  4. Solving that conflict instead of taking over the groundbreaking project Z in the other department.
  5. Taking over project Z instead of quitting your job and living the life you secretly wished for during the last 20 years.


(See also: Procrastinate on Tasks, Not on Your Life. The post image shows my friend Lourenço, who gets this stuff just right.)

George Saunders:

Last Thursday, my organization, People Reluctant To Kill for an Abstraction, orchestrated an overwhelming show of force around the globe.

At precisely 9 in the morning, working with focus and stealth, our entire membership succeeded in simultaneously beheading no one.

Quite brilliant. I’m a member. Read the whole thing.

Balls Bias

During a walk in the swamps on the island, I had to think of a few friends and acquaintances and how they are moving ahead (or not) in their careers and businesses. While I believe they are quite similar in smarts, energy and resources, some of them seem to get ahead much easier. Listening to the sound of the reeds swayed by the wind, I figured this had something to do with courage. Boldness. Balls. Balls to show who they are and express what they care about.

Two thoughts on, well, balls and the balls bias we live in.1

1. If you’re not ballsy, it’s a tiny tragedy. It means that people will easily overlook you – despite your potential, your abilities, your ideas and your true self. Because no matter how smart you are, if you don’t dare to stand up and contribute what you’ve got, chances are that the world won’t come to ask for it.

I know that sucks. I agree that it might be better if things were different. I still believe it’s true and worth to reflect upon: What is it that you would like to improve in your job, your community, your neighborhood, but haven’t dared to stand up for? What difference would it make if you just trusted yourself for a moment and went ahead?

Chris Guillebeau once wrote that at some point in his life he felt the urge to “jump on stage” and make his contribution. No matter what that contribution might be, if you haven’t jumped yet, when will you do it?

2. Derek Sivers’ 2c post is smart.2 I agree that a boss should not add their two cents to every single idea of their employees, but rather let them move ahead autonomously. As every smart idea, it comes with a flipside: If you’re an employee, grow some balls.

While there are more than a few control-freak managers in the world, chances are that yours isn’t as bad as you think. Instead of endlessly asking for permission, authorization and green lights, why not behave proactively? Try this: Be more courageous in your work. Surprise your boss by moving ahead, even when he’s still stuck in his email inbox. If you do the right stuff, people will notice. It might not give you a raise or a promotion, but in all likelihood it will increase your options.

  1. Not just in a biological way. []
  2. As always. []

Margin for Boredom

Now, we all know that there’s nothing morally or instinctively wrong with checking your social media timeline before getting out of bed. And neither is there anything wrong with keeping your computer’s email app open all day and switching over to it every few minutes.

But what these moments of “just checking” do is teach our brains that boredom is bad. They put a ceiling on our creative energy. […] Choosing to allow yourself to be bored when standing in line at the grocery store is also a choice to set yourself up to do your absolute best creative work.

Shawn Blanc on the “Margin for Creativity“. So true in my own experience. Yay for boredom!

About Your Hair Dye

In our world, no trend ever ends. You can still buy tape decks and wear baggy pants and publish a blog and unironically listen to Guns’n’Roses. Trends don’t stay the same all the time: They start small, they spread, they become part of the mainstream – and then, at some point, they go underground again. But they don’t end there. They might just become a nerd hobby. Or they do return: After a period of flying under the radar of mass culture, the cycle begins anew. I know a guy who has been getting the same silver-colored hair dye ever since the 1990s. It was the shit then. At some point, it will be again.

Just a thought I wanted to share with you in case you ever feel like a weirdo. It’s not you. Just give it a while. Chances are, your look will return. Big time.