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June 3, 2008

how to fail

by sven at 12:37 pm

Sometimes I find it useful to write myself reminder lists like this:

10 ways to destroy your mental and physical health as quickly as possible... while still ensuring that you miss your deadline

1. Success
Don't allow failure to be an option. Work yourself as hard as possible, no matter what the cost. Product is all-important; process doesn't matter. You can think about a sustainable lifestyle after the big job is done.

2. Quitting time
Don't have daily quitting times. Give the project everything you've got -- your first waking thought, your last moments before falling sleep... And let it hover in your subconscious with worry even while you sleep.

3. Time Goals
Don't set goals for how much time you're going to invest. Just work as hard as you can. Follow the level of motivation that you feel at the moment -- and if motivation is flagging, then berate yourself. Remember, if there's a set limit on how much time you're going to put in, then you might miss out on putting in a few more hours for your maximum possible output.

4. Calendars
Take one day at a time. Stop looking ahead on the calendar. Lose all sense of context. Let your time horizon narrow down to just this day, just this moment. Nothing matters except how good or bad you feel right now.

5. Other Responsibilities
Let go of all other responsibilities. Do nothing except this one project, day after day until it's done. When it's all over, you can catch up on bills, emails, dishes, relationships.

6. Planning
Don't spend any time planning -- looking at the calendar, collecting to-do lists, figuring out goals and plausible schedules. That takes away time that could be spent working productively.

7. Food
Snack on candy. Give yourself little treats for motivation and get into a cycle of mood crashes.

8. Sleep
Ignore sleep. Get into a habit of staying up late. Or repeatedly cheat sleep by going to bed late AND getting up early... That way you can develop a significant sleep deficit in just 2 or 3 days.

9. Alarm Clocks
Don't use an alarm clock. Just follow your body, going to bed when you're tired, and waking up whenever you do so naturally -- even if that's after noon. (And don't bother to keep notes tracking your sleep patterns.)

10. Exercise
Don't exercise. Stay glued to your chair until you start feeling chest pains. Instead of walking several times a day, wait until health becomes a crisis.

posted by sven | June 3, 2008 12:37 PM | categories: writing