Sebastian Marshall's Lifehacker post on the cognitive cost of "doing things" is a really interesting look at all the hidden "costs" that keep you from doing stuff, and that you pay when you make stuff happen. I'm especially interested in "activation energy" -- "starting an activity seems to take a larger of willpower and other resources than keeping going with it," particularly this: "Things like having poorly defined next steps increases activation energy required to get started." I get a lot email asking me to help out with stuff, and I certainly notice that the more nebulous the request is, the more likely the email is to sit in my inbox for days or weeks as I try to figure out what to do about it. I'm certainly going to keep this in mind the next time I try to get someone else to do a favor for me.
Ego/willpower depletion - The Wikipedia article on ego depletion is pretty good. Basically, a lot of recent research shows that by doing something that takes significant willpower your "battery" of willpower gets drained some, and it becomes harder to do other high-will-required tasks. From Wikipedia: " In an illustrative experiment on ego depletion, participants who controlled themselves by trying not to laugh while watching a comedian did worse on a later task that required self-control compared to participants who did not have to control their laughter while watching the video." I'd strongly recommend you do some reading on this topic if you haven't - Roy Baumeister has written some excellent papers on it. The pattern holds pretty firm - when someone resists, say, eating a snack they want, it makes it harder for them to focus and persist doing rote work later.
Bruce Sterling’s new short story, “Sgt. Augmento,” is an eyeball-kicky post-cyberpunk story full of Sterlingian zeitgeist: in the robots-took-our-jobs future, the narrator joins the army to augment his guaranteed minimum income, but finds that overseeing robot combat isn’t to his liking, so he musters out into a precarious existence clinging to the side of the […]
After we realized that Merlin Mann had tricked us into adopting Getting Things Done as Boing Boing’s operating manual, we started using the CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual (1944) and are getting more things done than ever before! Organizations and Conferences Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order […]
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