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Do things fast
Why you should practice moving quickly
Programmer’s log. Epoch time 1694390867. It’s officially autumn season because the pumpkin spice latte is back on the Starbucks menu! Can you believe the drink is almost twenty years old? It was first launched on October 10, 2003. But it’s not quite PSL season in the Bay Area. We are still in the summer heat, with the average temperature in Oakland hovering around 75-80F. My tomatoes are finally ripening all at once in the raised bed, loving all the extended hot weather…
Here are recent articles and websites that were interesting and fun:
The Sterile World of Infinite Choice (Culture Study)
What are Dreams For? (New Yorker)
I finished reading Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and The Deep Origins of Consciousness. Highly recommend for a deep dive into the evolution of large-brained creatures and the philosophy of consciousness. Peter Godfrey-Smith’s writing is also so beautiful:
Cephalopods are an island of mental complexity in the sea of invertebrate animals. Because our most recent common ancestor was so simple and lies so far back, cephalopods are an independent experiment in the evolution of large brains and complex behavior. If we can make contact with cephalopods as sentient beings, it is not because of a shared history, not because of kinship, but because evolution built minds twice over. This is probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien.
From the blog…
The latest writing on the blog is about why speed matters and how it’s possible to push yourself to do things faster. Eventually, once you do things fast and deliberately for long enough, the mental burden of doing the task gets lighter. Then you can focus on the parts that keep making you come back to the thing itself: because it’s rewarding and fun.
I’ve been trying to keep the do-it-fast mentality towards this blog and newsletter. Funnily enough, I’ve had this writing topic in the backlog for more than a year when I first read the original James Somers’ essay, the original inspiration for the subject. So it hasn’t been exactly the fastest turnaround time from inception to finished blog post.
I did write the blog post rather quickly. But the writing time happened a full week ago. I’ve been procrastinating finding images, formatting it for the website, and actually putting together this newsletter issue. So now here we are, a week later, finally sending it out to you lovely readers.
Well, progress over perfection. As nutritional coach and founder Meredith Root says in this inspiring video:
The hard things never get easier, you just get better.
Check out an excerpt of the post below!
Why you should practice moving quickly
Reminder to self: do things fast.
Starting a new task requires a high level of activation energy. It can feel easier to just not do it. My lazy, animal brain will complain about the effort, even if the task something I’ve done dozens of times before.
I’ve been writing this blog for more than five years. At this point, I have a long list of writing topics that are in my backlog, so writer’s block itself is not the problem. And I know I will be satisfied after structuring my thoughts into a cohesive, written narrative. It doesn’t even matter if anyone ever reads the writing! I still am happy to have going through the process of writing.
And still, every time I sit down on a weekend afternoon, there is mental resistance to getting started.
· · ·
The only thing that has reliably got me to keep up a writing habit is by doing it quickly. As James Somers writes,
Slowness seems to make a special contribution to this picture in our heads. Time is especially valuable. So as we learn that a task is slow, an especial cost accrues to it. Whenever we think of doing the task again, we see how expensive it is, and bail.
That’s why speed matters.
And as you practice doing things quickly, it becomes the default mode. The mental resistance, which never fully goes away, shrinks until it stops overpowering the pull towards the reward and satisfaction of doing the task. Eventually being fast and good at something becomes inherently fun:
That doesn’t mean be sloppy. But it does mean, push yourself to go faster than you think is healthy. That’s because the task will come to cost less in your mind; it’ll have a lower activation energy. So you’ll do it more. And as you do it more (as long as you’re doing it deliberately), you’ll get better. Eventually you’ll be both fast and good.
Being fast is fun.
(Click here to read more)