Good and Bad Procrastination | Paul Graham

In this essay Paul Graham argues that it’s worth putting off errands to do important work, even if the errands then take up more time to complete because they are delayed. He thinks that not having one’s time interrupted by errands is the only way to make progress on big projects; bad procrastination amounts to letting ourselves be interrupted in order to sabotage our chances of working on the big project, because it’s scary. He says that one should energy and enthusiasm for hard work is very precious, and we should put aside the errands until it’s used up. This is good procrastination.

I should stop sabotaging my chances in the way he describes as I have often done. One of the reasons to try to do hard stuff early in the morning is that you reset your interruptions by sleeping, in a similar way to how you reset your supply of willpower, as people have been fond of writing recently.

It’s very difficult to know, though, what the hard projects should be. Graham says go straight for the top hard problems in your field. I am of course nowhere near that stage in any of the things that I am interested in. Almost everyone, in fact, is in no position to tackle such things. I should just get going with my reading or coding, not worrying about it being super-effective. Along the way I’ll find the really effective things.