by Brad Bollenbach

I recently came across a great article over at The Onion:

According to the article, the secret to being more productive on the job is to, well, work:

“Our findings are astounding: By simply sitting down and doing work, employees can dramatically increase their output of goods and services,” said Deputy Undersecretary of Labor Charlotte Ponticelli, who authored the report. “In fact, ‘working’ may revolutionize the way people work.”

I’m not one to just believe what I read, but I have to admit that the research blew me away:

The results showed across the board that working is 100 percent more productive than listening to music and checking e-mails, 100 percent more productive than meandering around the office socializing with coworkers, 100 percent more productive than playing online Sudoku, 100 percent more productive than watching YouTube videos of nostalgic childhood television programming, 100 percent more productive than reading celebrity-gossip blogs while chatting with friends on Instant Messenger, 100 percent more productive than napping, and 98.2 percent more productive than not showing up to work.

This piece was obviously meant to poke fun. It ended up being non-fiction.

Donald Knuth, the renowned computer scientist, once said that “Premature optimization is the root of all evil.” He was warning computer programmers about taking it too far with getting their code Just Perfect. The same principle applies to meeting women, finding a job, starting a business, increasing your productivity, managing your time, getting your finances in order, and a swath of other daily concerns.

Personal development is a need-to-know pursuit. The fastest way to achieve your goals is not to spend your time learning about goal achievement; it’s to write code, talk to women, register a business number, write the first chapter of your book, or do whatever else you know you need to do to get where you want to go. There’s no point learning about time management before first figuring out what you want to do with your life. And spending endless hours on seduction forums when you’re not actively going out to meet people is time well wasted.

A great way to learn a programming language is to build something with it. The same applies to personal growth: Start with a specific problem to solve. Knowledge is best draped over a scaffolding built from trial and error. Having trouble finding your passion? What kinds of things have you tried already? Not sure how to ask a girl for her phone number? How did “Why don’t we exchange numbers?” work out? Personal development literature picks up where your own logic-driven, but unsuccessful attempts leave off.

Of course, the faults we recognize in others are really just a reflection of our own shortcomings. I probably wouldn’t have picked up on this nasty habit if I hadn’t already shaved a couple hundred hours off my life doing it too. But over the last while, I’ve become ruthlessly picky in my consumption habits.

For example, a few months ago, I virtually abandoned my participation in seduction community forums. It wasn’t only that I considered the highly analytical approach toxic and vastly subordinate to experience, it was also the simple question: Do I actually need to read this stuff? How would my life change if I didn’t? Would my results get better or worse?

Action provided the answer. My results improved. I met higher quality women with almost no effort spent on trying to push the right buttons, and reduced my forum participation from a couple hours per day to a couple hours per month. I felt a lot happier being authentic instead of “working the room” with stupid robot tricks.

A simple question I use to help me avoid premature optimization is: Is this the best possible use of this moment? Should I read this book on goal setting or should I just set some goals instead? Do I really need to ask about good places to meet women or should I just start saying hi to some of the dozens of women in my surroundings every single day? Any action that is not an ideal use of this moment is a waste of time.

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Comments
  1. vkj says:

    Brad, as always, you are right on the point with this blog.

  2. [...] статьи: Premature Optimization Автор: Brad Bollenbach Перевод: Сергей [...]

  3. [...] статьи: Premature Optimization Автор: Brad Bollenbach Перевод: Сергей Бирюков [...]

  4. [...] You could say this tendency is the marketing equivalent of Donald Knuth’s “premature optimisation“. [...]

  5. emma lou says:

    looking forward to this site

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