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Productivity porn (calebschoepp.com)
754 points by triplechill 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 406 comments





The Jewish people have their Sabbath, as a hispanic person myself, we have our Siesta. I spent over a decade in the tech industry and I'd literally be scoffed at for actually napping in a nap room or pod for 20min. Finally just started doing it in my car. But that's one of my practices that anchors me not only to my culture, but my Creator. It humbles me. And brings me joy. I hope everyone could find what their practice could be that would bring them this.

Take some time, at least once a year, to sit down with yourself and have a vision for your life not based on work or status (ie vacations or the acquisition of things). If that isn't enough to snap you out, go to a small village in Latin America or maybe like Matthew McConaughey discovered and talked about in his book, a quaint monastery in New Mexico. Stay there until it makes sense.

Most people want to be productive because they want to feel valued by others. But if you have to look to your own value from others, you've already lost, and will continue to lose forever.

Be. You. Slowly. and you'll find you're more valuable than you ever thought.


As an Indian I loved my afternoon sleep during the holidays. During school days I would come home and sleep for an hour while reading something. I really loved my sleep. When I started work I hated that my sleep was reduced drastically. Sleeping late working on personal projects played havoc on my sleep. Now in WFH I sleep for an hour or more in the evening which would have been wasted commuting.

I have seen my cognitive skills decrease because of lack of sleep. Now I am just chilling and catching up with rest and chilling and don't give a crap about work or projects.


Once you realize you only work for (aka being bribed by) BigCo to snuff out their competition it pretty much removes the guilt of not working. I used to have gray hair coming in, and after I stopped being a try-hard the color came back. I was looking so old and tired always, now I am looking and feeling spry! Enjoy life and donate all of the bribes you don’t need to people who need it through direct action so they can have a chance to nap too.

>Once you realize you only work for (aka being bribed by) BigCo to snuff out their competition it pretty much removes the guilt of not working.

Yes. Exactly. There is no real innovation. All that I see nowadays is corporate drama of passing the blame around, climbing the ladder with politics and all the wrong people put in interesting and important positions. There are a lot of cult like people who take pride in this fake drama and I am definitely not one.

All I want now is to retire with a good enough corpus by coasting so that I have enough to work on my personal projects, eat healthy, sleep well coupled with some sports and exercise.


Sometimes, bugs can even be helpful to humanity? Imagine a World of Warcraft bug that broke the game for a week, forcing the WoW addicts to go out and see the sunshine

Definitely I wouldn't feel much pressure, as a WoW dev (had I been one).


> All that I see nowadays is corporate drama

Wow! How large is the organization?

(At what levels of management does such behavior become annoyingly prevalent?)


I can resonate; I also love napping. Naturally, my body does not require much sleep, but napping is like having one of those 5 hours energy drink, without actually having it. Sometimes, I'm up from it in just 20 mins w\o an alarm and there are times when I don't wake up with an alarm even after 1 hour - it goes for 2ish hours.

Yes, I'm gifted - https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/22/health/short-sleep-gene-welln...


How many cultures are there that have a midday/afternoon sleep? I only knew of the siësta in Spain..

I think it is pretty common in places where the mid day sun makes working difficult and dangerous.

There was a famous line about it for when the British started colonizing Africa, "only mad dogs and English men go out in the midday sun"

Then one can infer that the Brits' recklessness allowed them to build a globe spanning empire to whom the sun never sets.

smirk


From my experience, Italians and in the south of France. The French also shut everything down on Sundays.

In the middle east I’ve also seen people napping in mosques. The large ones remain nice and cool during the hot summer day. Mind you, it was Ramadan, so that might have changed things.

Overall, I expect people in hot climates to sleep through the mid day heat and go back to work later. I for one envy them.


I mean, it makes sense. It's fairly well encoded into the genetics that determine our circadian rhythms. There is a dip in energy levels, corresponding to changed brain waves, that occurs at approximately midday. That 1pm drowsiness is your body just trying to do mammal things.

> Most people want to be productive because they want to feel valued by others. But if you have to look to your own value from others, you've already lost, and will continue to lose forever.

I think for me its about fear of death.


There’s a book about this called “4000 weeks” (thanks for the correction). Basically, all the popular productivity hacks are nonsense, and just make you busier. You do this because of a fear of death. Accept that you will die soon, so just stick to the important stuff.

Nothing like a strong dose of existential dread to get me through the work day.

Reminds me of The Hustle[0], which I actually found here

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o7qjN3KF8U


4000 weeks

Death will come for you regardless of your productivity.

I know, but if I get twice as much done, its like living twice as long ;)

I know its nonsense, but it makes an intuitive sense in the absence of a better way to deal with existential anxiety.


For some, productivity equals virtue.

A virtuous life is always better than a lazy or vicious life. So you die having lived a better life. And (at least for us catholics AFAIK), a virtuous life leads to heavens.


As a US Catholic, I find much greater value in family time, volunteering, and jus the regular things I do to help people in my community. Work productivity is not on my list of "virtues".

Catholics have far better news than that you get to heaven on the basis of personal productivity. Consider these questions: When and why was toil introduced? Did the prodigal son have riches when he returned to the father to justify himself? Did the Pharisees need to have bread with them? Did the crowd have enough bread? Who provided sufficient bread: the vine or the lost sheep? If virtue is productivity, then why does God say that there is a rest for his people? Did he rest on the seventh day because he was not as virtuous as Pharaoh's taskmasters?

Industriousness is wise, but all is vanity and the fool when he dies goes to the same place as the wise.


All correct, though there is also the part about burying a lent talent and returning it without "interest".

Just to give some context: a single talent was worth about 6,000 denarii. A denarius was the usual payment for a day's labour. That single talent was a sum of money worth roughly twenty years of labor. In the parable the person doesn't earn that twenty years of labor. They have twenty years of labor handed to them with no effort on their part. The rebuke wasn't: you should have woken up at 4 AM. You should have exercised. You should have taken a cold shower. You should have eaten with one hand while handling emails with another. Ten hour days or you are a loser. It was practically milquetoast; you could have at least put the money in the bank.

> Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”


"vicious" Think you meant to say "vacuous"

"Vicious" also means "full of vice", which is probably the more apt context here (since it's being contrasted with virtue).

But what if we hack death??

Joking, obviously. But it is amusing how many people (Kurzweil, Harari) seriously have faith in this (and believe there is something novel in this pursuit).


I see no harm in pursuing the impossible, in moderation of course.

After all if we didn't, we wouldn't have tried landing on the moon, among myriad other things.


I know that submissions with no substance are frowned upon here, but I just wanted to tell you that for some reason your comment is the funniest one I read in quite some time.

Maybe because of my lifelong struggle with productivity and procrastination... Cheers!


Yes, but you can either die having achieved your goals, or die with them unmet.

You won't know either way. Few people die knowing they will.

You’re dead though. What does it matter?

But then again, nothing makes you feel more empty than achieving a goal...

Achieving something evokes a feeling of loss that you have to bear until you've found whatever is next. It's not unlike experiencing a death or break-up. This happens when you finish a book, video game, or TV show you've invested a fair bit of time in. We are driven to cope with this feeling by seeking what's next.

That's not my experience. I need to be making progress to be sane. Achieving something small everyday makes me have confidence in life and a sense of control. This is crucial to keep existential dread at bay. I have a calendar where I track life events (good and bad). It's wonderful to look back and remember that, tlin the last two years, even though I feel like I haven't changed, actually a lot has.

Achieving something is hence a source of joy. But so is eating food.

Kind of orthogonal to this conversation, but... with increasing temperatures, I find myself wondering at what point more parts of the US might switch to a formal siesta or even nighttime hours. Last summer my area had a month+ of 100+ degree days, and this year it looks like we will have at least several weeks of it. People, especially outdoor workers, simply can't be expected to work in that for a full on day - people would die. So it makes me wonder if we will start to see interesting shifts in the work day as happens in other parts of the country.

This is more possible with WFH now. I sleep for about an hour a day on work hours and I don't work later to make it back up. Still only get positive feedback about the work I get done.

This you can only do when they don't set meetings just after lunch time, which is very common in my company unfortunately. But yeah I agree with you.

Alain De Botton has a fantastic book about this called "Status Anxiety"[1]. The book gave me a fresh perspective on how to avoid being trapped in the race to prove yourself to others.

[1]https://www.amazon.com/Status-Anxiety-Alain-Botton/dp/037572...


I really don't get any of those "be more productive", book, video, course and so on.

Every single person I know just wastes their time with that. Usualy they work long hours and still don't get much done.

But hey, they have Zettelkasten with things the never read. A to do list with stuff they never do. And they go out in the morning at 5 for jogging, while gulping down a liter of coffe or energy drinks which results in them being groggy the whole day.

If you ever think you need to adhere to what is preached in any self improvement thing, just don't.

Habe your shit in order, avoid working mor than 7 hours day and take your weekends and vacations seriously.

Especially in IT nothing will get you further than being smartly lazy.


I used to devour this stuff in the beginning of my career, because I always felt like I was drowning in a job that was asking too much of me. Eventually though I got to a place where I no longer needed anymore of these tips. These productivity systems and life hacks are useful, so it is not bad to explore what is out there, but they are tools and tools are not useful unless they are set to a purpose. Also, it is easy to hit a point of diminishing returns, so in hindsight I kept looking after these life hacks for too long.

Ultimately, for me (and everyone is different) it took an inversion of how I looked at time. Before I had a fixed set of things I wanted to cram into available time, and never felt like I managed this well. Realizing two things changed that: (a) work is effectively infinite and (b) the things worth doing or seeing exceed the capacity of a human life. This made me allocate my time differently: professionally I started radically prioritizing what I worked on and how I worked on it to dig up the most useful work from the infinite backlog (techniques: inbox zero, ooda loop, deliberate pauses for contemplation, job crafting). For my personal life I gave up on trying to keep up and spend my time doing things I enjoy, even if ultimately pointless (like reading HN), without feeling guilty to myself for the things not done. I also turned off notifications for almost everything, so I can choose what I spend time on instead of having it chosen for me by my masters in the cloud.

Still, life has a way of getting in the way, so I’m trying to have a more mindful approach to life, accepting what happens instead of forcing it to be different. This is a work in progress.


> (a) work is effectively infinite and (b) the things worth doing or seeing exceed the capacity of a human life.

These are some of the main ideas in the book 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. I think it is one of those rare self help books that are actually worth a read.


This is a great self realisation. I started to stop working after 6. It's been a pretty hard change, but feels amazing.

I was about to do something with my expanding procrastination habbit, but then you made me realize it's all good.

There is a joke:

Boss is stepping outside of brand new BMW - good morning Joe, you see that brand new BMW, if you keep working hard and make more hours I will get new one next year!


> Especially in IT nothing will get you further than being smartly lazy.

One day I'll finish my "self-help" book which is all about doing as little as possible and leaving everything until the last minute in case it resolves itself. Unfortunately, I listen to my own advise and will probably never finish the book.


Reminds me of that line from that movie "you and your stupid mate" where the guy ignores the letter and doesn't open and he says something like "If I wait 5 days and then open it, if it's bad news then that's 5 extra days of happiness that I got that I wouldn't have got if I opened it now".

Can't fault that logic.


What the hell. Why are you stealing my idea? I've been working on this for 30 years. Its about 10% done. I'll do the rest next weekend.

The JIT Productivity Method. You'll have it written just as soon as someone goes to read it.

You jest but didn't the guy who wrote "The Martian" do it one blog post at a time?

Schrödinger's productivity.

Instant cassettes! They're out in stores before the movie is finished!

We have AI now to take our laziness to the next level, so there you go (quoted text is AI generated)

Write a blurb for a self-help book that is about doing as little as possible and leaving everything until the last minute in case it resolves itself, it's called "The JIT Productivity Method"

> The JIT Productivity Method is a revolutionary new system for getting things done. It's the antithesis of the traditional "work hard now, play later" approach, and it's based on the simple principle of doing as little as possible and leaving everything until the last minute in case it resolves itself.

Write a book review:

> The JIT Productivity Method is an interesting new take on productivity. The author makes a compelling case for why doing less and leaving everything to the last minute can actually be more effective than the traditional approach of working hard now and playing later. The book is well-written and easy to follow, and the author's methods are definitely worth considering if you're looking for a new way to get things done.

Write the first 5 paragraphs of the book:

> The JIT Productivity Method is a revolutionary new system for getting things done. It's the antithesis of the traditional "work hard now, play later" approach, and it's based on the simple principle of doing as little as possible and leaving everything until the last minute in case it resolves itself.

> The JIT Productivity Method is all about taking advantage of the fact that many things have a way of resolving themselves if you just give them a little time. Rather than working hard on something now and risking it not actually getting done, or worse, getting done poorly, the JIT approach suggests that you do as little as possible now and wait to see if the situation improves.

> Of course, this isn't an approach that will work for everything. But the beauty of the JIT Productivity Method is that it's flexible. There are no hard and fast rules, and you can tailor the approach to fit your own unique situation.

> If you're tired of the traditional productivity methods that always seem to fall short, then The JIT Productivity Method is definitely worth a read. It's a fresh, new take on productivity that just might help you get things done in a better, more effective way.


Great minds think alike ;). I, too, have been playing around with the free OpenAI tokens trying to get it to write the book for me.

You'd better have just waited and done nothing, because danielbln did it for you in the end, and the situation resolved itself. Behold the power of the JIT Productivity Method™.


Being more productive rarely leads to a happy and fulfilled life. It’s often precisely those moments in life when I’m on my least productive, that I look back on as if I really lived.

Of course, be mindful of your time, but learn how to use it wisely, rather than optimizing for “productivity” as observed by others.


I think we might just have different definitions of productive. To me, writing code or reading a paper can be productive, but so can a conversation with my dad or a nice meal out. Basically I see "Productivity" and replace it with "Productivity towards producing more personal utility" where that utility can be anything - happiness, relaxation, actual goods and services, etc.

Furthermore, I think putting on the hat of "productivity" can sometimes reveal unusual things. Like how a conversation with a friend is just repeating the same old dreary boring stuff, and if you put a little effort in you can have a more "productive" conversation.


And sometimes the most productive thing of all with regards to long term utility is to stick your pantsless ass on the couch with a few beers and play video games.

I see you've read my productivity blog!

Always needing to be "productive" or busy can be a sign that you're avoiding something else in your life. The classic example is the workaholic who is hiding from the reality that he doesn't like spending time with his spouse or family. Instead of confronting and solving that problem, he runs away from it by working 60 hour weeks.

> Being more productive rarely leads to a happy and fulfilled life. It’s often precisely those moments in life when I’m on my least productive, that I look back on as if I really lived.

Hmm, I've had the opposite experience.


I wouldn’t put it this way. I think sometimes life gets into the way of my work, and that’s not a bad thing, and sometimes work gets into the way of my life, and I get shit done and feel good about it as well.

When I was just out of college I spent a couple of months reading that kind of literature. Then I started to realize that if I did everything they asked I wound't be myself anymore, I would be the image of an idealized "successful" person that these people write about. When I figured out that, I saw the whole think makes no sense.

You don't understand how the trick works. I am a person who fell for the bait thrown by info / "guides" sellers.2010-2015 - peak in my life of productivity. I was able to do damn a lot of things altogether. Fix challenging and complex bugs, implement modern and crazy stuff, etc.

And my hobby project (game) became popular. Unfortunately, I did not use any GTD / todolists, etc. Maybe a tiny todo program like qtodotxt because it's small, and I am too greedy to pay for todoist.

But since the end of 2015 - I have noticed how slowly I was starting to do smaller and smaller amounts of work. I was just sitting and can't push myself to continue with the previous speed of results. Not because things become more complex, but because I can't explain to myself what is going on.

More tasks on the todo, more things to do, more promises freaked off, etc. And after googling for a better todo tools, ads networks got my interest and started to offer through youtube and ads different promoted videos about GTD, matrix Gunzenhauser or how it is called, and other stuff.

Tons of really nice made videos, which work like popcorn for brains. Do X to get the Y result. Extremely easily explained things and procedures. I followed this bullshit and dug in because someone else was thinking for me, not me myself. I did not realize that at that point in time.

I think this is extremely important to bold: I was not ready to even try to think or understand that I want to job done not by me but by someone else. This is an important thing, please try to remember it, I will get back to it later.

In 2016 -> I started to learn different methodologies, follow different literature and books which do the same, and around the end of 2016, I got a strict understanding that this is business. Literally structured business which makes by themselves via tricks and manipulations with information and reasons <-> results relations which force idiots like me follow it, purchase more to get something that never will work. But you are forced to purchase and learn more because you can't make the thing work because it's impossible to make the thing/methodology work. Because the methodology sucks. Because it's made for business more. Like drugs -> while you read all of that bullshit and believe in that -> you feel good, when you trying to do something - you feel pissed off. And you face some kind of addiction.

God bless, I met some girl in 2019, which was suicidal, and was hospitalized and treated by psychiatrists. She told me -> "man, the thing that you have this is typical symptoms of depression, try to visit doctor."

I was denying that thing for damn a long time, maybe two years for sure. The problem with depression - is that the thing you can't beat alone. You will always go deeper and deeper to darker and more problematic things which impossible to cure yourself. That does not work like that.

Anyway, finally, when I worked in 2020 for only two weeks in the whole year, I strongly realized something extremely bad with me. I tried damn everything, just imagine everything that you can or who suggest you something: nothing helped. Literally everything (relax, changing work, changing friends circle, restriction of something X, doing something Y, whatever). Does not matter.

Just save your time and nerves - do not listen to anybody like me. So, in 2021, I slowly got a strong wish, like when you are hungry or want water, but that wish is about to die. This feeling follows you every single day, every single thing. If somehow you got a conflict / emotional problem -> boom, you wanna die. No, this is not a "pissed off" thing. This thing is about 3,2,1 - jump from a window. No jokes here. Crazy shit.

Anyway. Somehow after one of such days when I almost committed suicide -> I visited a doctor. Diagnosed with the latest stage of depression (it's when people kill themselves), and got offered to be hospitalized, and so on. I refused that, and I got pills to drink and talked with psychiatrists for a few months (until the war started).

So. What do I want to say to you? After starting to visit doctors who treat depression with pills + I tried to fix my problems with professional specialists in a clinic -> I started to feel better.

My libido because of pills -> goes down. But my intellectual potential -> go up in 2016-2015 years. I was able again, for almost a month, non-stop work, work great, did tons of a good job, and be productive.

I did not follow any tools, methodology, etc. I just had an inner power to do that. I got it back. Some kind of will.

So why do I write all of that? I hope my post helps many IT specialists like me (who feel burned) to understand those head problems -> it's common problems, and these problems are treated and help damn a lot to return back the previous level of productivity of your nature.

It will not boost you over your limits, but correct treatment will help you cure the source of your wasted will.

Just stop jerking for GTD / kanban / scrum / other bullshit. All of that shit does not work and should not work. Just abstraction, which will make life harder. If you feel extremely overwhelmed, can't do things in time, or lose your focus, or can't force yourself to work as you worked before ->, visit your doctor.

Pills are not costly, and treatment in the early stages too. And results - damn awesome.


Yes, when you start to feel getting nothing done, tried those so called productivity tricks and doesn't work, start self blaming, it may be a sign for depression.

It is hard to fix this alone, considering the society is constantly telling us that if you don't get stuff done, it is because you are lazy and did not do XYZ. Just find a counsellor or your doctor and see if they have any clue.


Wow, damn awesome post. I’m on my phone and can’t type a lot, but I would write a lot if I could about how your post resonated with me.

I’m productive but I’m fighting inner demons constantly. Your post is a good warning. Try to fix the small things before they become big things, like the “no broken windows policy”


I really enjoyed your post and glad you’re in a better state.

There's something to trying to figure out how to adjust your productivity structures to be more productive, and then eventually you hit a falloff in terms of where it stops helping.

This blogpost feels very ironic to me... I know I'm not the first to point it out, that the blogpost's obsession with a feeling of productivity is just way too meta given the blogpost itself, but the point where about 5 self-help resources are all quoted is the point where the whole thing started to feel a bit doomed to me.


Who gets really rich if you follow the "Buy all your personal Guru's stuff"? "Buy a new course if you struggle with task X" is a simple mantra.

The only way to boost productivity is to hire people. That's what these gurus usually do: hire stuff and let marketing (again: other people) spin it, like the single guy does all the work alone.


Easily one of the best get rich quick schemes is to create some overly complicated workflow (doesn't need to actually work) to get rich quick, and sell that to people.

I once had the idea to write a book about it where the first page just says "write this book" and then 500 blank pages


and what do you need for that?

right: money!

problem is: it's so much easier to get rich if you have money already...


> I really don't get any of those "be more productive", book, video, course and so on.

They think that is they eat, sleep and think like Musk or Zuckerberg they'll get the same bank account. They spend time mimicking the by products of their lifestyle


It's nice to be able to live ones potential through. This desire seems to stem from observing others "oh, could I eventually accomplish the same, or reach the same level?". It seems to me though genuine happiness can also be found through other means.

But presumably there is valid info about being more productive. You claim to share such info in this very comment. It's a very specific subset of advice that you are identifying.

One of the original, and most effective, competition hacks is to convince people that you sleep less than they do.

When someone tells you they sleep 5 hours a night then run two miles and take a 15-minute cold shower then start their work day, 85% of the time they are lying, 10% of the time you will have already noticed the effects of chronic sleep deprivation, and 5% of the time it's drugs.

But this has been a surefire way to put your competitors on the back foot for hundreds, probably thousands of years.


If you read enough of those "day in the life" articles in newspapers about the daily routine of famous/successful people, you realise that they are probably complete fabrications. Even if it's not for competition purposes, convincing people that you do mad stuff like get up at 2am for a kale cleanse, followed by three hours of meditation is fun. And on top of that, it adds to the razzle-dazzle and gets people talking about you. That's why Michael Jackson pretended to sleep in an oxygen tent.

Also no breaks at work, lunch is for wimps. Refer to Will Smith saying how he would die on a treadmill rather than lose. Watch overwork porn like Suits or any legal drama.

I believe in napping, not lunch.

I've noticed my energy dips very significantly after lunch, whereas if I nap for 30 mins, I get a burst of energy and focus.

I also got down to a healthier weight.


You need to account for genetic outliers.

IIRC, Jocko Willink believes that his ability to function on little sleep is genetic, he just doesn't need much of it.

He has mentioned that this was a running joke in the Seal teams, which presumably consist of people already selected for their ability to function on little sleep, not your average "7 - 8 hours of sleep" folks.

But then normal people who need an average amount of sleep start "getting after it" by waking up at 4.30 AM because that's what Jocko does.

You can wake up at 4.30 AM as a normal person, but you'd need to go to sleep at 8.30 PM - 9.30 PM for that to be sustainable.

You can't "discipline equals freedom" yourself into optimal performance under perpetual sleep deprivation.


When you listen to Jocko talk about himself, you are not getting an honest accounting about an actual human being

Your are being given a story created by Jocko to build the Jocko mythos. Jocko will not let any truths get in the way of a good story about the mythical Jocko. His artisinal leather boots and cologne don't sell themselves, you know.


I tend to believe what he says because I don't get the "narcissist cult leader" vibe from him.

I do get that vibe from the vast majority of popular content creators in the "hustle" niche, though.


No, some people have a genetic mutation that allows them to sleep for 5 hours a day.

Fascinating, and true about the mutation:

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/gene-id...

So I should update the above to include some percentage who are lying about having this mutation, and an extremely minuscule likelihood your sales manager actually happens to have it. Second prize is a set of 23andMe test kits.


Are there?

Not saying they don't exist. But I've yet to meet someone who only sleeps 5 hours a day, doesn't have bags under the eyes, and doesn't fall asleep in every meeting.


Tricking competition like that is really a zero sum game when it comes to mental health. I don't recommend doing that at all. You don't want to be in an environment like that even if you've contributed to its existence, you're not in control anymore.

> But this has been a surefire way to put your competitors on the back foot for hundreds, probably thousands of years.

So there examples of this?


> Examples of productivity porn include but are not limited to: reading a tweet by a top VC about how to become a better startup founder; watching a Youtube video about the 7 mistakes you need to avoid at the gym; perusing a Hacker News thread about how to improve the code you write. All of these activities deceptively make you feel like you’ve done something productive. “I just learned something new”, you tell yourself.

Those examples from the article make sense but in my experience the biggest illusion of productivity happens right inside our day to day work routines, namely email and chat systems. People respond to endless email threads that in the end trigger no action, endless discussions on Slack channels with no decision making until eventually somebody calls a meeting. We type and type but in the end we waste our own attention and our coworker’s attention just to feel important and productive without doing anything useful most of the time.


Reading this thread is a good example.

I disagree with the premise. I think the things you learn reading that tweet or that medium post can be useful. There were definitely times when I ran into a problem and thought to myself, "Hey I remember reading about this on Hacker News, how did they solve it?" and then going back and finding the post and finding a solution to my problem.

There is also the notion of being able to make better decisions with more "connection material" in your mind. The more you know, the more likely you are to make a novel connection.

I consider reading HN and the like part of building up that library.


The point isn't expanding your knowledge, but doing so when there's other priorities.

But priorities are just a personal preference and ever shifting. Sure sometimes there are external forces driving our priorities, like needing to finish a work project to get paid, bur once you've taken care of those, it's totally reasonable for "knowledge acquisition" to be at the top.

It's not knowledge acquisition. It's a false sense of accomplishment. You feel like you've learnt something that will help you be more productive. So your mind justifies the time you've spent learning it by thinking you've paid it back.

So mentally, you don't feel like your wasting time. Thus you consume more and more. Which for some, can create an addictive feedback loop similar but exaggerated as porn. Which ironically is wasting time.

Everything in life is in balance.


As I said in my original post, I couldn't disagree more. It is knowledge acquisition. I've solved problems because of things I learned on HN/reddit/Twitter.

I've come up with novel solutions to things by combining ideas that I read on each platform.

Not everything you learn will have immediate value. Sometimes it takes a while for it to become useful.


The article is identifying a tendency for some people to over-explore (aquire knowledge) and under-exploit (apply knowledge). Specifically it's calling out when "exploration" is not being done in a structured way, and the result of that is slower / less effective skill acquisition.

If you want to learn to draw, you have a carve out time to practice and you need to learn a tree of sub-skills that may have interdependencies. Watching occasional youtube videos about drawing, or reading meta discussion about drawing is nice, but moves the needle very slowly. If your goal is a certain level of proficiency, you may not reach that level without a change in strategy.

I guess the author doesn't get all the way here, but by saying

    "Stop thinking (reading, listening, watching etc.) about how to do something and just go do it."
...I think what they are getting at is this logical progression to pursue more exploitation (do stuff / apply knowledge), and to allow {the act of doing} to structure your priorities for exploration. I think a lot of folks talk about this (e.g. the whole idea of deep work).

It's a useful strategy because by _trying_ stuff, you discover what you don't know / what you need to learn, and as you conquer those things, you discover more things you don't know & this dynamic perpetuates itself.

This doesn't mean random exploration can't be helpful (as you point out, it can be very helpful) -- however by itself it has limited utility, and many fall into the trap of doing _only_ that. The idea of "productivity porn" is just "I'm stuck going wide when I know I should go deep," and the author attributes this to the firehose of feeds, tweets, blog posts, videos, etc.

There are clearly people who have the opposite tendency and go deep (exploit) instead of wide (explore), and can benefit from more explorative behaviors, but this blog post is not speaking to them. Maybe you're one of those people :)


> There is also the notion of being able to make better decisions with more "connection material" in your mind. The more you know, the more likely you are to make a novel connection.

I completely agree with this, but I don't believe all blog posts and technical articles are written equal :)

You have:

1. Your garden variety tech blog post about somebody's experience using X or Y framework or just a general techy blog. (I'm thinking a joel spolsky or coding horror post here)

2. A technical dive into a specific problem/framework.

3. A raymond chen style blog post explaining the reasons behind some weird api.

And then you have the deeper material:

4. The Pragmatic Programmer. Not too dense and can still be enjoyed at a leisurely pace, but contains enough deep thinking type of material to motivate you.

5. A comprehensive reference book about a specific framework or concept (Game Engine Architecture and OpenGL SuperBible come to mind).

6. The Art of Computer Programming.

I only consider the last 3 productivity material. The first 3 can be helpful in rare instances, but they're more akin to watching a 3blue1brown video where I say "That was interesting" and proceed to forget all about that topic.


If we're talking about „reading a full article + following the discussion“, then yes.

But for me, 1.) has also been helpful for discovering frameworks or tools that I'm now using in my everyday work life (e.g. LogSeq, Prefect). I wouldn't count it as „productive” either, but just reading announcements or random tech blog posts sometimes translates into actually adopting the thing.


The problem is these "fake productivity" sources arent clearly identified. They are just referenced and then different people assume hes a talking about different things and no one realizes that we're all using different definitions.

Life advice, self help, etc, all of it is too general to be helpful to anyone.

What works for a 46 year old married mother of 3 probably won't be what works for a 23 year old tech nerd.

You have this obsession with becoming some type of super human who can do things vastly beyond your peers.

Sure the average 30 year old living in LA will never buy a home.

That doesn't concern you super elite hustle bro. Hustle so hard you have 3 houses, 2 lifted trucks, and a dog who can speak basic French.

Most of us are by definition average. Actual life advice for our above character would be to move somewhere with affordable housing, only buy a lifted truck if you have cash, etc.

No body wants to read.

"Fix your life over 18 to 24 months by making difficult choices"

People want.

"Fix your life in 3 weeks, only takes 30 minutes a day"


Such a good point. How do I calibrate to the all the advice out there? Find that hard - be it finance advice, health advice, hustle advice or anything else.

Like you say, most of us are average. There's rarely any content for a '46 year old married mother of 3' or any of the average folks. But a normal person's daily life goes for a toss when they hear advice on YT (or watch a Insta reel or a TikTok dance) they know they won't be able to do themselves but they think should be doing.


>"Fix your life in 3 weeks, only takes 30 minutes a day"

More like "This ONE Tip Will Change Your Life!"


You keep saying "lifted truck" like it's something to aspire to, but aren't pickups dirt cheap in the US?

God no. Even before the recent huge bump in car prices.

They're very common, but not cheap.

They're either actual work trucks built to do real work (so, not cheap) or are status symbols (so burning cash is part of the point—also not cheap).

Like with anything, you can save buying used, but I don't see very many older trucks around these days. Dunno if a lot got taken off the roads with Cash for Clunkers, or if rising gas prices made older trucks less appealing so a bunch got scrapped, or what. Seems like most trucks I used to see were older, but since they got more popular for normal drivers, even one visibly 7-8 model years old is pretty unusual. Less so out in the sticks, but near the city, it's almost all fairly-new trucks.

The people who really want to show off can get trucks that approach six figures, retail. Not some custom job, that's in-demand enough that it's a normal trim level they make.

Any extra stuff done to a truck after purchase is sometimes about functionality but most cases you see will be conspicuous consumption instead, including lift kits. Tons of them are on trucks that'll rarely leave pavement—they're the same as fancy, expensive rims or whatever.

[EDIT] Cheap (relatively cheap, anyway) light trucks used to be a thing, like in the 90s and earlier, but are damn near not made at all, anymore.


New pick ups are pretty expensive, at least from my perspective. A baseline F150 starts at 40k-ish. A decked out one could run you near double that I believe.

Compare to a baseline Civic at around 23k.


Wow. People are really paying $80k for an F-150?

Every time I think I can't get any more cynical, life throws a curveball like that.


A long time ago, just about the time short after the 9/11 attack i joined the german army. In my platoon there was a guy my age who drove a f...ing Dodge Viper.

You need to know, german conscripts were not really well paid back then, so it totally baffled me, especially after hearing that his family is from a blue collar background.

It turned out, that crazy guy somehow convinced a bank to give him enough credit to pay the deposit so he could get the credit from the dealer... and after this, every month his whole pay went into the payment of the credit(s) and the fuel.

People do... crazy stuff


I worked with a guy who spent $55k on a new truck. We were both making $18 an hour. He was in his early 20s living with his parents.

That was in 2017… I wonder if he’s still paying it off.


Was this in LA by any chance?

I recall making $10 an hour and having a manager berate me for not owning a personal vehicle.

And it was a temp job!


Many pickup trucks in the US are basically luxury vehicles akin to a high end Mercedes or BMW.

wait til you hear about the waitlist for the F-150 Lightning...

I bought a new F-150, XL edition (lowest) in 2020 for 29k, just for reference. On the Ford site, it appears the new models at a similar trim level are about 31k. Most people don't buy the baseline "work truck," which is what mine is (4x2, 3.3L, 8ft bed, short cab), but they don't have to be 40k. Add 4x4 and any level of trim and you're there, though.

that is pretty cheap, compared to europe after all taxes... 31k gets you fake SUV on sedan platform, not F150

For what it's worth, what I would call the "fake SUV" from Ford (the Escape) is listed starting @27k. The Explorer, you might call a real SUV, starts @35k.

Do you mind pointing me in the direction of these dirt cheap trucks? I’ve been looking but have so far come up empty.

Sometimes I feel as if our entire society has turned into one giant cargo cult. Whether it's OKRs or the latest tech fad or black turtlenecks, everyone looks at the last big hit, picks out some set of superficial features of the person at the top, and says, "Yeah, that is the key to success." No one ever steps back to think about causality or even what they actually want.

Brings to mind one of my favorite aphorisms: furious activity is no substitute for understanding. Very few people seem to subscribe to it, but I've gotten an enormous amount of mileage out of it over the years.


This is 100% me if you substitute social media browsing with distro hopping and text editor tinkering. Now I understand why redditors decided to call that subreddit "unixporn".

My solution: Stick with Fedora and Visual Studio Code, because I've spent at least 100 hours in the past month checking out Neovim, getting my first init.lua to work, messing around with configurations, making telescope work, make telescope look good. Then switched to Arch, try bspwm, Gnome, KDE, fonts.

Meanwhile, my fellow junior colleague is flexing all over me his Docker knowledge, his experience in unit testing and CI/CD, and generally things people actually pay you for.


I used to do that and it has helped me quite a bit. Now I know what distro's are good and I can bring up embedded systems much faster and what needs to be packaged.

I also have to have a particular font and color or it would be difficult to focus. Not sure why. Also if I use dark mode I start getting a headache. Not able to figure why it is so.


I don't know if you ever read is but I'm really curious to know what font you're talking about.

Well, then you’ll be a leet neovim ninja, and you can hack text like no other. Don’t be so hard on yourself. :)

I had a serious problem with colorscheme tinkering so I decided to use no syntax highlighting and I've never been happier.

To me that’s like coding with one hand.

Fair enough hahaha

Same, now I just stick to the default one.

While this term gets overused, I think what we're really saying is that we're addicted to success. Or the idea that we will be successful if we are overly productive.

If you watch many of the people on social media who are "productivity gurus", you will notice that their philosophy of how to stay productive will shift as the content gets stale and they need something more novel to talk about with their growing audience. Many of them are just like you and me and cover the latest bestseller book or popular tweet that has merit to it, but then gets discarded after we realize it doesn't work in our lives.

In turn, they also become wildly successful by providing you surface level tips on how to be a little more productive each day.

While I used to be obsessed about this topic or what others call "hustle culture", I think you have to go through it before you realize how finite one's life really is. The overworking, the "always on"-ness, the comparison to others who happened to reach success earlier than us.

It all doesn't matter at the end of the day. The simplistic perspective is that you can take common occasions and make them great and you'll find success or at least a better understanding of your definition of "success".


I've come to realize that there is some kind of wisdom on not caring too much about outcomes, being in present and keeping things simple. For a long time, I believed in exactly opposite, success, over-optimize - whatever I do do it right way. Until during COVID, I found myself doing so many things, music, fitness, coding, photography, and later dating -- and you can constantly find endless amount of advise and new ways to do things on YouTube, while not realizing you are getting mentally exhausted. Trying to stay more in present, and keeping things simple now -- not to succumb to the mass-marketing campaign of whatever that something on internet usually is (most times it is marketing something, be it some product or themselves).

Exactly. I firmly believe that there's even a paradox to all this. The less you care, the more successful you can be. Almost like Office Space.

Doing a few things very well is what separates you from someone who does a hundred things not well at all.

Attention is your most previous resource and it's stolen from us everyday by others when we should reclaim it for ourselves and those few things that we're passionate for.


Humans humanned before the internet after all :-). And books/magazines/newspapers for that matter.

> Or the idea that we will be successful if we are overly productive.

I find this one the most fascinating. It implies a supreme confidence in the correctness of one's beliefs, which I simply have never had. As if to say, the only thing stopping my success is my ability to drive faster, but without any doubt that you're actually on the right road, heading the right direction, etc...


A mild defense of productivity porn. It was books like Ben Franklin's biography, Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich", and Wayne Dyers' books that made me realize that I could get ahead by sheer determination and working fairly smart.

They changed my life. It helped me get out of a fairly unpleasant home situation. I learned that I didn't need to be super smart or athletic or good looking to raise myself up a few steps on the (American) economic ladder. Grit, and putting myself in the way of success, and failing plenty, actually did propel me into a pretty damn good life.


Meta point: Reading this article was productivity porn.

Only if you don’t follow its advice!

> Meta point

Meta porn


I was listening to Zuckerberg's internal Facebook memo to employees and they're really going all out on VR, they think it'll go big, trying to generate monopolistic effects by subsidizing their VR hardware so that more people buy in, and buying VR studios.

Porn. Just give people meta porn


They can't. The money is in ads, and advertisers won't touch anything that isn't family-friendly.

A startup might be able to do a decent job, but they would get booted off the app store faster than you can say a four-letter word.

Too bad there's no good way for users to write and run arbitrary code on their devices.


Yet they just increased the cost of the quest by $100

Just checked, yeah you're right! Wonder why

But reading the comments has made my day, some zingers and great references to other resources of genuine comedic value I hadn't seen before.

I love this :D

busted

Hustle and grind. Create 7 streams of income. Work 18 hour days - anything less and you're a loser destined for mediocrity. Read 5 books a week. Start trading stocks and crypto. Take cold showers, hit the gym. Optimize your schedule, log every minute spent. Ditch your loser friends and only hang out with likeminded - success breeds success. Sigma grindset. Moon or bust. If you're not worth $1 million liquid before 30, cut off your finger and work even harder. Analyze your productivity and always look for places to cut fat.

Reminds me of this awesome video - The Hustle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o7qjN3KF8U

The videos on that channel are so good that they're painful to watch, when you realize how closely it matches the life you're living.

This one is my favorite (or "least favorite" depending on how hard it hits on any given day): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYvhC_RdIwQ

I feel like the people doing that channel could write a very effective modern Office Space.


This video is hilarious (like many on that channel). What cracks me up is the little jokes you can miss unless you pause some frames, like

"...but not before I read my blogs" --> "What Ancient Mayans Can Teach You About Living Your Best Life"

"and journal about creativity" --> "sleep retrospective, epiphanies: 0"


The production value is just immaculate. Every frame is so clearly meticulously constructed to portray the emptiest imaginable life. A man going nowhere at maximum speed, really more of an absence than a man. It's so very close to being too painful to be funny, and I've never even believed in the grind. Just pity for a wretched soul.

Probably the most production value they put into a video was their Virtual Coachella one https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=67sfZfreOrU

Which has way fewer views than it deserves, possibly for algorithm reasons because it was given a cease & desist by actual Coachella https://mobile.twitter.com/EFF/status/1373006482397032449


They have so many other good ones - “Microservices”, “Senior Engineer”, “Ballmercon”, “Computertime with Gooch” are still my favourites.

I had the pleasure of working with an old school engineer (worked at Microsoft, a few little start-ups, and I believe IBM, starting in the mid-eighties). After I showed him Senior Engineer, he'd drop quotes constantly. "I've slain...my enemies"

Computertime with Gooch is probably the weirdest and funniest, but I Have Delivered Value has me in stitches every time. Every time my any of my friends runs into an inconvenience, I ask if it's a blocker, and if it will prevent the KPIs of their life from growing quarter over quarter. Though actually, considering our narrator's ennui is preventing Galactus from knowing the end of the universe and thus from getting user info, maybe he should be a little more focused on deliverables


Virtual Coachella is a hilarious take on a dystopian hellscape (not far from our present time). I love it. Like a Black Mirror episode, only condensed so that every single second is brilliant and packed with jokes.

> A man going nowhere at maximum speed, really more of an absence than a man.

Dude, that's a beautiful summary not only of the video but of the entire productivity cult.


It's like Portlandia for software developers.

The most recent one, "Leadership Sync", pops into my head in pretty much every meeting I've had in the last two weeks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RAMRukKqQg

I instead use words like "meet", "create", or other concrete and discrete <verb-action> and try to otherwise avoid the managerial douche buzzwords IRL.

I submit it's unnecessary and pointlessly toolish to use such phrasing and lingo. People who speak that way deserve judgment; it's lazy and the buzzwords are variations on low entropy / meaningless vagaries.



The last minute of him stammering on the zoom call makes me want to hide under the bed.

I watched that multiple times after delivering a big feature I had to crunch on late last year. Of course my reward was a”meets expectations “ modest raise.

it is insane to me that this channel is being discussed today because literally 2 days ago it was recommended to me on youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8OnoxKotPQ


It is very much inside jokes for professionals in the tech industry. Very underrated gem

Reminds me a bit of "The Website Is Down": https://www.youtube.com/c/jrwyt-thewebsiteisdown/videos

Alternative front-end version: https://yewtu.be/watch?v=DYvhC_RdIwQ

Oh my god

The one about microservices is incredible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8OnoxKotPQ

2 Years later I still have trouble watching this one, hits too close to home for an old job I had.

Reminds me when I had to sort some payments FE-wise which was a very trivial array sort (there was at most 50 payments per page, nothing impactful performance-wise) on a json array which had a timestamp value, but CTO got involved with this triviality for some reason and started blabbering of how business logic had to be on the backend.

I literally had a working feature branch in 10 minutes, but it ended up being a 6 weeks job involving architects, devops, 3 backend engineers to have a microservice implemented in GO (which basically no backender knew) to handle those payments sorting. I'm not kidding.

I didn't got a promotion to staff engineer or architect few months later because CTO was fixated with "micro services experts" which basically consisted of anyone putting Go on their CV and having an AWS certification.

The guys hired were so sweet, they would spend like months repeating in the daily every day they were doing analysis and understanding our architecture, just to produce after 8 weeks a pdf of few pages with their in-depth analysis of Kafka vs RabbitMQ which was basically a summary of their landing pages lol.

I love the information economy.


So... that's me. FCUK. I really need to listen to these "work life balance" types more.

Gold!


The funniest part about this video is how he gets absolutely nothing done professionally except read two emails. Driving around to flash his expensive (leased) car doesn't count.

These kinds of windows into a life explain how some entrepreneur/CEO types can be owner and/or CEO of like three businesses, on the board of a couple others, in some kind of advisory role on a couple startups, and so on, and still always seem to be starting or trying to get a hand in some new thing: it's because they don't really do jack shit.

Meanwhile the peons get an anti-moonlighting clause and absurd claims over any work done in off-hours.


Being an owner (with a title of CEO) means they aren't spending their labour, or time, but merely capital. Therefore, it's correct that they don't get jackshit done.

However, a real CEO, without any capital investment in the company themselves, would get fired if they did that imho. Or at least, if i were the owner, and that's what i observe the CEO i hired to run the company.


Nothing says you're a successful high-impact CEO like having a camera crew following you around all day as you work out twice and eat salad.

Isn't this a satire?

Not intentionally anyway. If it was intentional, it was to grab attention (like include a mistake in a tweet), but it seems serious and on-brand for an influencerpreneur.

I honestly can't tell if this is satire or not.

When I read “24 year old CEO” I think of Hinton:

http://www.smashcompany.com/business/what-happens-when-the-b...


I honestly thought it was satire until the comments showed otherwise. Eat clean… cocktails. Hustle by taking long drives.

And the rest? What is wrong with keeping a schedule, running, resistance training, eating healthy?

Also, long drives are mentioned in the context of "unwind after work" (I see nothing obviously wrong with it).

Alcohol is bad, avoid it if you can but no social life may be worse.


None of that is inherently bad. He talks a lot of working hard to maintain multiple brands/companies while everything shown is pure vanity, which is why I thought it was satire.

I don’t know anything about what he does but in reality people don’t have time to work out twice a day, take long relaxing drives, meet their friends, eat healthy and do 5x the work of an average CEO.


Finally, an innovation in dating site profiles!

That was my first thought as well. Is this a dating profile?

Wow. This is literally poison for the mind and soul.

kept waiting for the punchline that never dropped.

The real Patrick Batemen folks

Ouch

This is my all time favorite video to show people

> “Check robinhood. All red, just as I expected.”


Or, from 2007, The Richter Scales - "Here Comes Another Bubble": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6IQ_FOCE6I

"build yourself a rocket ship / blast off on an ego trip" – lmao


This was a trip haha

“Read Marcus Aurelius - meditations. didn’t understand shit”

LOL


After listening to "Tools of Titans" by Tim Ferris, this video accurately captures all the things it implies a hustler ought to do in a day. Except the actual advice is probably to do 2-3x more affirmations and crunches and smoothies and upside down hangs and meditation and so on.

I stumbled upon these guys in NYC! They’ve got the most relatable videos.

Alternative front-end version: https://yewtu.be/watch?v=_o7qjN3KF8U

Great, now I will never be able to read Marcus Aurelius again without associating it with this satire.

Lonely dudes on the internet ruined stoicism for everyone

Fan of Ryan Holiday ? ;-) I’m always wondering : is this guy just a marketing scam or does he worth listening to ?

Well that was uncomfortable...

Thank you for this.

My secret for success, you ask?

I get up at 2AM, with a smile. Then do 7 hours of running after which I have my usual 3 racks of eggs for breakfast, whilst I speed read 3 books. I'm fluent in one language: the language of success, which I generously share to willing students on LinkedIn.

A thread (1/74)...


lol, check out this loser, doing only 7 hours of running? Get real.

Fitter happier

More productive

Comfortable

Not drinking too much

Regular exercise at the gym (3 days a week)

Getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries

At ease

Eating well (no more microwave dinners and saturated fats)

A patient, better driver

...


Still cries at a good film.

Still kisses with saliva.

That song was so good at making what generally reads like a healthy lifestyle seem hollow and pointless. I love it, even as I question whether its effect on my teenaged self was a good one, or maybe just fueled my neuroticism. It makes me look at life a little bit more like an opportunity to be creative and make risky, weird choices and less like a continuous process of self improvement, for better or worse.


This song is literally what came to mind as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4SzvsMFaek


I believe the last line is supposed to be 'A pig in a cage on antibiotics.'

I read this in my head like the intro to Trainspotting.

Fitting, overwork is a coping behavior for some people. Just like taking drugs is for others.

always look for places to cut fat

Ironically, you should also put butter in your coffee.


why?

There was a trend called 'bulletproof coffee' that went around SV and the startup world about a decade ago, where you were supposed to drink coffee with two spoons of butter and some 'brain enhancing' MCT oil in it. Lots of CEOs went mad for it. I don't think I've heard of anyone still drinking it for a long time.

https://www.bulletproof.com/recipes/bulletproof-diet-recipes...


Considering tattooing "you are enough." on my inner wrist as a daily reminder.

Funny because if you NEED the tattoo, what does it imply...?


Change it to "You and this tatoo are enough." and you have closed the loop!

> Work 18 hour days

...and meditate the other 6.


Ultimate life hack:

1. Dude, move to Venus where a day is 5,832 hours.

2. Become a 10,000 hour expert in less than a weekend bro!

3. Profit!


Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days

I got a free copy of "Sam's Teach Yourself C# in 21 Days" at some Microsoft sponsored career fair thing for students.

While not a bad book overall, each chapter was supposed to be "1 day" and I definitely did wonder what planet Sam lived on.


18 hours a day? Telsa ran on 4 hours sleep, stop slacking.

Putting you on PIP for this attitude, not very "big org" mindset.


You can shave some slacking off time by skipping lunch and dinner and instead chugging some Silicon Valley energy drink mix, marketed with a fancy name.

Wasting time with meals is for unsuccessful losers!


I mean this is funny but this isn't at all what the post is about. What it means by "productivity porn" is only tangentially related with the hustle sigma male trillionaire grindset stuff.

I get that this is satire but could you expand on why people who want to be healthy + productive "have it wrong" (which I feel your satirical comment alludes to?)

You're "taking the piss" at people who value working hard/long hours, reading, trying to be successful financially, taking care of their health/fitness, cutting ties with loser friends (drug addicts? bums?)


Some people who push these values on social media care way more about the image of being a "successful person" than actually doing what it takes to achieve success (which rarely involves bragging about how hard you work on social media).

They're at best untrustworthy sources and at worst snakeoil salesmen.

Speaking of the latter there's a special brand of cognitive dissonance being shown here.

If there were some surefire way to be rich and happy, etc. in a very short period of time. A system so simple that anyone could follow it then why doesn't everyone?

If you really believe that these habits would make anyone successful then you have to explain why everyone isn't doing it.

And they convince others and themselves that it's because most people aren't willing to do what it takes. They won't sacrifice their comfort or friends or whatever to the point that it takes to be successful.

If you do all these things are still aren't rich and retired? Well it must mean you haven't sacrificed enough or worked hard enough or whatever!

The real answer is that none of these habits are a guarantee of success. Are they good ideas? Sure! Like for sure eat healthy, get enough sleep, read books, and work out.

Like everything though there are tradeoffs, often on your time, and moderation can be the key for most people. There are other inputs into your success and there's no one size fits all plan that works for everyone.


> Some people who push these values on social media care way more about the image of being a "successful person" than actually doing what it takes to achieve success (which rarely involves bragging about how hard you work on social media).

Devil's advocate but

you can measurably tell if you are financially successful (from working hard/long hours) and our healthy fitness wise (from going to the gym/eating clean/going for a run/etc.)

you can also measurably tell if you are in a good headspace from meditation/yoga/reading

I'm the first person to poop on people who "do it for the Gram" but...

Most people I know who post about being successful are the same people who wouldn't want their image hurt by being caught in a lie.

aka... they aren't really "fronting", they are really "about it" when it comes to living a "let's talk about it" lifestyle


I think time helps shape perspectives here.

It can be really hard to tell someone's career or life trajectory in the moment or even in 1, 2, or 5 years.

I'm 35 now so I have the benefit of hindsight looking back on the decisions different people my age have made and while I'd be the first to caution against potential bias in data I can say definitively that the people who were into FIRE or grindset or whatever before those terms even existed have ended up markedly worse off by their own definition of success than people who took more traditional routes.

There are exceptions, I know one person who made millions on cryptocurrency for example. But he's the one exception to the rule I can think of.

The rest ended up no better off than their peers who weren't out there posting every motivational quote on social media or eliminating their social lives to write and ebook about credit card reward points.

So was it worth it? I doubt it. The ROI seems to be negligible or even negative to me.

It turns out there was no shortcut to wealth and happiness after all.


I think you are forgetting to factor in risk,

Those paths are much more risky, a few make it big most don't. But that's the trade off people willingly make, a small shot at making it big, or living a normal upper middle class fully employed lifestyle.

The way I think about it is, if you are on a deserted island, but you have made a nice life for yourself, shelter, water, food.

Do you risk pulling it all down to make a raft to sail into the unknown searching for somewhere better.

May people stay put and justify their stagnant lifestyle by how they are slightly ahead of the people whos raft sunk and had to swim back and start over.

Those people are the movers the shakers of the world, they take in the risk for something more in life.

Every time you fail you are failing upwards, learning skills you didn't have before becoming stronger and building better rafts.


Sometimes, some people fail down too, and it damages them. If you think that all failure is 'failing up,' I'd suggest you haven't really failed, and have just experienced setbacks.

But that's never how it's sold - "do all these things and maybe increase your chance of becoming phenomenally successful by 1%". Almost by definition a tiny percentage of people will ever be "phenomenally" successful. And the ones that do probably would do so with or without these sorts of "tips".

And most people that do then look back on their lives and point to certain things they did that sets them apart. Like an old person healthy at 100 saying they studiously avoided beans and that's the sole reason they're still fit and well.

That's not to say the advice isn't sound, maybe it is, but if it's advice based on N=1 I'm not about to change my lifestyle.


>the people who were into FIRE [...] have ended up markedly worse off by their own definition of success than people who took more traditional routes.

Can you please elaborate?


Sure, the people I know who:

- Focused on getting passive income streams set up through real estate, stock investment, content creation, retail arbitrage, etc.

- Were particularly frugal with their money and avoided travel, parties, 'lifestyle creep', etc.

- Attempted to min/max their careers by switching jobs every 1.5 to 2 years and negotiating hard each time.

Are:

- Still not retired in their mid to late 30s.

- On track to retire in their early 50s.

- Slightly behind their peers in terms of career progression.

While those who joined big tech, worked hard, and let their equity compound are basically on pace to retire at the same age while also getting to spend their youth traveling, partying, and generally enjoying life.

Plus, I've found the people who were hyper focused on retiring early or achieving financial independence to be less happy and more self-critical about their financial decisions.


I believe that one reason for this is that FIRE, passive income, entrepreneurship, etc. attracts people who are looking for shortcuts.

This means that they are optimizing for the short term, which is counterproductive to success in any area of life.

Back in the 2010s we saw this with niche sites, ebooks, info products, etc.

It worked for some but it's probably safe to say that learning to code and getting a tech job would have had better ROI for most people who went down that route.

At the moment we are seeing this in the crypto space, where you have all these guys in their 20s who are "investing in crypto" (gambling) because they want a Lamborghini ASAP.

They would likely be better off learning to code and getting a tech job, but they can’t see it at the moment because they don’t have the perspective that comes with time.


> While those who joined big tech, worked hard, and let their equity compound are basically on pace to retire at the same age while also getting to spend their youth traveling, partying, and generally enjoying life.

I though joining big tech and riding raises and promotions is basically the mainstream way to FIRE these days? Side hustles are ridiculous small potatoes in comparison.


I think you have a somewhat distorted understanding of what FIRE means, or at least one that is different to my own understanding of the term.

I think of FIRE as essentially trying to optimise lifestyle and work in order to quickly reach a point where you don't need to work by paying attention to your income and expenses. This doesn't necessarily imply extreme frugality, and I think the mindset should actually make you more likely to go into big tech or the like because increasing income has a bigger impact than decreasing expenditure on for most people.

For sure there are people in the space who are trying to sell people on the idea that drinking coffee or not is the factor in when they will retire - but these people are fundamentally hucksters I think.


I've personally not done any of that and just became a home owner but it has only been possible from crypto investments in which I got extremely lucky. It had absolutely nothing to do with my tech career or how much extra work I do outside my 9-5.

>Plus, I've found the people who were hyper focused on retiring early or achieving financial independence to be less happy and more self-critical about their financial decisions.

I also wanted to comment on this.

What I have observed about FIRE folks is that they start optimizing everything for FIRE.

This isn't a healthy way to live, certainly not in the long run, and it's not like this goes away once they reach FIRE.

Here's an article where Mrs. Money Mustache shared how uncomfortable she was about her parents taking her and their son to the movies, then to an ice cream place.

She was already retired, literally a millionaire.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/07/27/youll-never-be-no...


It's really tempting to assuming the things you think are important are what actually result in success. Nobody sees all the possible lives they could have had.

Daily jogging seems like a healthy choice when you wheren’t hit by a car etc etc.

Add in all the actual lying and it's easy to get an incredibly distorted view of reality.


Avoiding jogging (in lieu of gaining obesity/any various degree of issues that come from lack of exercise) in fear of getting hit by a car seems irrational, wouldn't you agree?

You should strive for "perfect". If "perfect" is healthy and healthy means go for a run (with risks), you have to weigh it against the alternative (don't run, be unhealthy).


That's hardly the only options.

If you want to give useful advice it’s worth considering what might happen to those reading it not just your lucky history of avoiding problems. Avoiding jogging outside in favor of a treadmill is a net increase in safety without negative health impacts. Replacing it with an elliptical further reduces risks etc.

On the other hand if you want sell a lifestyle then treadmills etc are boring. Which is why a major reason so much popular advice is terrible.


> If you really believe that these habits would make anyone successful then you have to explain why everyone isn't doing it.

Everyone else isn't doing it, because it's really, really hard to stick to the habits.

Same reason why everyone else isn't walking with a ripped physique and six-pack. It's simple, just work out 3x a week and count your calories. Why isn't everyone shredded?


Nothing wrong with living a healthy lifestyle (healthy diet, working out, taking care of your mental health) and being ambitious about your career.

But these brofluencers (Andrew Tate being the latest one) just regurgitate and compound the same ol' to new levels. They mostly cater to young, impressionable, and desperate kids - promising that if you just follow these easy steps, then luck will come your way. And the whole hustle porn community fetishizes working every single waking hour ("the grind") doing something that everyone else is doing - your edge is to basically worker harder and cheaper than anyone else.

It's always the same "bro, just start a drop-shipping business for passive income, create your own brand of [saturated market item], also do [FX/Crypto/options] day trading. It's all about grinding, I promise bro - but first, buy my super alpha prestige mentoring package for $3k" spiel.

And if you're not driving a lambo, living in a mansion with your super model by the age of 30, you just didn't hustle and grind hard enough.

These communities tend to obsess over things like productivity - everything to save up space for the grind.


It's like Evangelical Capitalism. Or something.

We're deep into the land of MLM attitudes - usually without the explicit MLM pyramid - and Warrior Forum grifters.

It's not a new scene. Outside of Techia, a site called The Salty Droid has been tracking some of the worst excesses for over a decade now.


Valuing hard work, reading and trying to be financially successful is something completely unrelated to trying to do 18 hour work days, skimming several books a day, and running the hamster wheel off the peg and into the frying pan. Hard work is often what is required to be successful, but just mindlessly toiling away is not the key ingredient to success.

Also, what good is a friend who wouldn't come to your aid in the hardest of times?


> Valuing hard work, reading and trying to be financially successful is something completely unrelated to trying to do 18 hour work days

Are you trying to say "it's easy to be financially successful by working 8 hours a day instead of 18 hours"?

like... it's "overstated" that people think they need to "work more/work harder" to become successful?


Easy, no. Easier, yes. People absolutely overvalue putting in more time/effort, which actually has pretty poor returns.

I'd say you'll probably spend more money on medical bills I'd you were to work 18 hour days 5 days a week for any meaningful amount of time. Or one might be sorely mistaken about what constitutes 18 hour work days - does that include travel and eating time too?

That schedule seems untenable even in the fairly short run. If you really need to work 90-hour weeks, six days of fifteen hours (and just one day off in stead of two) feels much more like something you could keep up for at least a month, perhaps even more.

If nothing else, 18-hour workdays leave at the most five hours for sleep (and only one for everything else, like mealtimes and hygiene), so you'll be pretty damn bushed come Thursday and Friday. 15 hours of work would leave seven for sleep, and double your everything-else time to a luxurious two.


Define "successful".

I’m not qualified to comment on the health factor. In general striving to be healthy is good, no contest there.

But regarding working those long and hard hours (which then cannot be spent on other things) maybe we should heed the advice of the dying:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-fiv...

> 2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard. > > "This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."


I don't believe in regrets.

Regrets are a made up fiction.

As an example, let's talk about the "I missed my children's youth". You imagine an alternative life where you would have spent more time with your children, most likely idealized. But in reality, maybe it wouldn't have been a better life. You did things when you weren't with your children, some of them good things or at least leading to good things, these would be lost in your alternate life. And is it that much a difference seeing your children 4 hours instead of 2, maybe it will just make you regret not having 6 hours, a problem is if you are framing your alternative life in the context of your real life.

You only have one life, you can't see alternate realities, you don't know which are the better ones. But one thing for sure, if you regret "not living true to yourself", rest assured, nothing is more true than the life you actually lived, it is in these alternate realities that you are not yourself.

Don't take advise from the dying, take advise from the living. If someone has decided to spend more time with his children and feels better now, it can be valuable advise, because it is real life, not a fiction.


Where I live, dads spend much more time with their kids than their dads ever did, thanks to a shifting culture.

I'll hear them nag occasionally about not being able to play enough golf (they're also very young dads, and that gets better with time). But I know them well and I do not feel a single one of them is miserable because they spend too much time with their kids - they are very deeply fulfilled.

I'm sure the opposite is still perfectly possible - men that would prefer a traditional model where they could focus their time in energy on work, while the woman or extended family takes care of the kids. But this is not what I'm observing around me, in my small universe.

You also may not believe in regret, but regret very much exists - it is a universal human emotion, of which deathbed regrets are a particular case. Projecting what we will think about our lives in our final moments is as old as the stoics, and a very valuable exercise for many people.

Indeed, maybe a dying man may never have had the makeup or propensities to live the alternative life he fantasises on his deathbed. But if you believe in free will at all, then their insight is no less valuable.


Maybe you don't but as everybody is caught in his own world it doesn't matter...

What this thought expresses in my opinion is: I wish I lived a more balanced life!

what everybody seems to miss as it does not fit in the grand dream beeing sold: chance is the largest part of being successful. you can tip the scales marginally by working hard, but in truth the most important part is just luck...


Regrets are real because there is nothing more clarifying about life than when it’s about to end.

For anybody who is just scrolling by and not clicking any links:

Top five regrets of the dying

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.


This list has been circulating forever, following the publication of the book, and I believe they should be called "top five very theoretical and after the fact and with no empirical evidence they are regrets and they would do something different if in the same position of the dying".

Now, think of those who like to eat until they are full, those 7k calorie meals. There are many such cases, especially in the United States. After such a large meal, which would frighten weaker stomachs, if they were asked, "Do you regret eating like that?" they would almost certainly say yes. But they would do it again tomorrow, some would say because they have a medical condition, others because they love to eat and don't mind having problems with walking, diabetes, and all the assorted ailments that go hand in hand with overeating, or alcohol, or any combination of the two.

In a moment of tremendous weakness, of fear of crossing the Acheron, when asked "do you regret working so hard?" even the laziest worker the world has ever seen, the anti-Stakanov, would say, "yes, I do, it's one of my biggest regrets."

Some of my friends did not continue studying after middle school and sometimes say, "I would have/should have continued studying," regardless of the fact that at that time they were not inclined to open a textbook even with a gun pointed at their head. But in their minds, if they had a chance to go back in time and armed with motivation that they did not have at the time, they would study, of course they would. But they only like the idea, not the action. They are the same people. And it's the same for those five regrets, the "if I had $10 million, I would give $9.5 million to charity." But they don't have that $10 million.


Opposite list:

1. I wish I’d have cared more about others than my own “truths.”

2. I wish I had applied myself more and realized my potential.

3. I wish I’d had the discipline to hide my feelings instead of burdening my friends and family so much with drama.

4. I wish I hadn’t let my “friends” dominate my life.

5. I wish I hadn't been so obsessed with happiness, and had appreciated contentment instead.


>but could you expand on why people who want to be healthy + productive "have it wrong"

First, because both healthy and productive have long become a rat race.

In that sense, it's not about some e.g. obese person wanting to lose weight anymore, or about some lazy person wanting to get their act together and be more productive, but increasingly about an obsession with dieting and working out, or with working all the time to "make it" and hustling constantly.

Second, because for many those aren't even their own goals, just things instilled in them by influencers, productivity and health peddlers, the media, and co, as a substitute for a meaningful work and a balanced way of life.

Third, because even those dubious goals are often not followed anyway, instead people obsess with productivity and health "porn", todo systems, micro-managing their day (or meals), measurbating, and so on, as opposed to a simple, natural approach to those things.


Parent poster is referring to the people that take "healthy and productive", condense it, distill it, then shoot it into their veins.

At some threshold it becomes an obsession, which is not great.


why would anybody want to be unhealthy and unproductive? what is to be gained from those two characteristics?

I don't think that's a reasonable take on the comment you're replying to.

The answer to mindless obsession with health, productivity and success fads for entrepreneurs is not to become unhealthy and unproductive.

Though, on that note, what do these "productivity" and "success" even mean? Why is being extremely productive a worthy goal? Leisure is good, too.


Fun. The answer is fun.

But obviously, it's not that you have fun eating because you're unhealthy, it's that you're unhealthy because you eat stuff for enjoyment.

Similarly, being unproductive isn't fun in itself, but having fun means almost by definition not being productive. If a hobby is productive, it's not really a hobby.


There is a whole world of lucrative fun out there.

One thing about a livelihood though: it's never fun all the time.

The same is true of many serious hobbies however.

Fun certainly doesn't have to be productive, nor is it an antonym.


What is fun these days? Maybe fun is being productive, working out, and making money.

How many hobbies really beat the dopamine hit of ADHD-tweaked TikTok?


"Fun" is a too short termed word i think... "happieness" would perhaps be better:

Riding a sailboat hard on the wind, watching the foam of the waves splatter onto the deck...

Reading a book in a comfy chair, only accompanied by the sounds of a fire...

Learning something new that changes your worldview completely...

Cooking together with your partner...

Watching your children grow...

"Fun"... "fun" is short lived like the buzz you get from a glass of good whiskey, i would say its better to strive for happieness


> What is fun these days?

Fun can be many things, and it's definitely not constrained to being "productive".

What does being productive even mean to you?

If you do everything productivity porn tells you to do, you probably won't be "successful" anyway, and you'll live an empty, Patrick Batesman life.


The more interesting take to me is that to live a meaningful life, you probably want to do a lot of things that are not labeled "productive", and take paths that are not labelled as "healthy".

For most of us the core of our life doesn't fit into neat categories, and trying to throw away stuff that aren't "productive" wouldn't help.


The opposite of these people is not necessarily "unhealthy and unproductive".

Not who you're replying to, but the problem I see with productivity porn is that it completely ignores the luck involved in success. We all have agency, but some people will work more hours and take more ice baths than everyone else and still end up poor and irrelevant. Some people are better off realizing they don't have "it" and taking a more relaxed approach to life.

A good deal of that luck probably occurs at the point of conception too.

The guy spends so much time optimizing every minute of his day that he's functionally not "living."

Also notice he has literally no human interaction.


what do we define as living?

i have many friends who swear it is more fun to work than to "sit around watching netflix/hang out with friends passing time/drinking alcohol"


Before we define living, please define what "work" and "productivity" mean to you.

Did you watch the video? Not being antagonistic or anything, it’s just necessary for my response to make sense.

It's not that any one of them is wrong. It's overdoing them, or doing them all at once to the detriment of the others.

Or more likely: the image being put forward isn't even real, because it's not enough hours in a day to do them all.


> doing them all at once to the detriment of the others.

a situation comes to mind

a father who has to ignore his wife + children because he's addicted to "the grind/hustle" of working 12+ hour days and traveling... so he can make money... for his wife + children

is there true net detriment in that case? i'm sure the wife + children appreciate the extra income?


> is there true net detriment in that case?

Yes.

> i'm sure the wife + children appreciate the extra income?

Probably appreciate the money and resent the guy. Also, the wife also probably wants a professional career for herself (or to pursue activities away from home and the kids) -- so old-fashioned of you to guess she will want to play the housewife.

The children would probably prefer a father who was available.

If this guy is ignoring them, as you put it, that marriage will probably not end well, and the family itself will be tested.

If the guy is going to spend 12 hours daily away from home working, then "hit the gym", read 5 books a day, then travel a lot for work, maybe he doesn't want a family; maybe he could just donate a portion of his money to random strangers.


It depends, there's obviously a happy medium between the two extremes. Optimising for family happiness, sure. Optimising for making money and expecting that to return family happiness, probably not.

I'm fine with these things insofar as they are factually in service to a substantial undertaking. The routine cannot be the undertaking, nor am I impressed by such a routine in search of an undertaking. The camera should only be on the routine, the 'secrets of success', rarely as a glimpse behind the scenes. As a rule, the camera should be on the worthy venture.

It's like people who spend so much time optimizing their perfect productivity system that it doesn't leave any time for doing the things. Their entire life is about managing the productivity system.

Talking about the work !== doing the work. 9 times out of 10 you're better off doing something, anything, than worrying about productivity. Go do stuff.

Doing every productivity hack and good habit in something like Ferris's Tools of Titans is literally a full time job if not more.

I have the same critique for note taking porn.


There's nothing wrong in it, if taken lightly and in a healthy positive manner.

I think he's parodying the extreme fixation with one's productivity.


If you abandon your drug addict friends and bums that only shows that somebody with a stronger character wouldn't fear aquiring their attributes nor would aquire them.

I'm open for different opinions, but in my view, being more productive for its own sake is fundamentally misinformed. Being productive means being more efficient at producing output. To get there, you need to put effort into optimizing your process. This effort is only worth it if you know that you NEED more output, in order to reach some OTHER goal. More efficiency in of itself is a misaligned goal. It doesn't lead to happyness. In fact, it seems to me, most of those gurus, and their followers seem to be about boasting their productivity dick. It's like flaunting money: a status symbol that doesn't make you happy in of itself. If you're making honey because you think just simply having money will make you happy, you'll be leading a miserable life.

That's not what the article is about but it relates to what you said.


dont forget to use discountcode huberman at athetlic greens

I really like Athletic Greens though....

I don't. Tastes like shit.

$1 million is for losers. Its just dos comas. Real success is tres comas.

https://www.russfest.net/home/tres-comas


I think that I actually 'L - O - L' at most three times a year when reading on my computer. "cut off your finger and work even harder." is the best one yet!

Swap out the financial goals with spiritual goals and that describes the daily routine of a cult member.

Most of them are designed to keep you busy with introspective or pointless busywork so you're too tired to protest or don't notice the things going on around you-- like the leader sleeping with your spouse while robbing you blind.


A just-out-of-college co-worker of mine pops into my LinkedIn feed regularly following people talking about “hard assets” and retiring from their corporate job by 40… I don’t know him well enough to say it, but I wonder if he realizes they now have the job of being a landlord and influencer… and anybody can yell numbers about revenue streams on a video (which they probably learned in their time in corporate America)

I see what you are saying but I, and some others I know who try to live this way, find it fun and fulfilling. So what is the problem?

Sounds like the beginning of a Radiohead song.

All of this, plus - don't forget to have fun! Work hard, play hard.

It is quite tough. What are your thoughts on if it is worth it?

It is really hard to type without a few fingers now.

You are Andrew Tate and I claim my five pounds.

Or Russ Hanneman.


“You can always be thinner, look better”

that's why I'm Doraemon now

This comment was f-in poetic.

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