Coffee Shops

September 28, 2007

For some reason, I really focus on my work when I’m at a coffee shop. I’m considering a cellular modem at $60/month. The only problem is I don’t want to commit to a 2 year plan. I want to try it for a few months to see if I really do get stuff done. There’s nothing on


Lazy Geniuses

September 6, 2007

An article in the New Yorker mentions Hunter College Elementary School (HCES), which admitted only the very brightest kids and provided an excellent education. It turns out that the average IQ was 157. A study surveyed graduates from 1948-1960 to see how they turned out. They nearly all turned out to be good upper middle class professionals, but there were few exceptional people as was expected of such gifted children. Why not? The study’s author guesses, “after noting the sacrifices involved in trying for national or world-class leadership in a field, H.C.E.S. graduates decided that the intelligent thing to do was to choose relatively happy and successful lives.” I’m no genius, but I completely agree with this sentiment.

Office Space

June 5, 2007

I’d like to rent a small office in the New York City area. I just need to get out of my house and concentrate on work. Regus offers furnished short-term offices with shared facilities. Unfortunately, it’s $1000/month for 120 square feet (including T1 Internet) at an older building, and $1600 for the same in a new building. This site lists some other cheap, short-term rentals, though these are mostly just a desk. I’ll check this place later. For this amount, I could rent a bigger apartment and use the extra bedroom as an office. However, I’m hoping that an office environment will help me get work done, especially if I’m paying for it. Perhaps I’ll hang out at coffee shops first.

Slacker Manifesto

May 3, 2007

I usually put the minimum effort required for reasonable success. I decided long ago that the marginal cost of increased success was not worth the very large increase in effort. Without trying at all, I earned a doctorate and was offered some fairly good jobs. I would have had to bust my ass to compete with other PhDs for academic positions at top schools. Those guys are much smarter and work much harder. If I failed, I’d be right back in my current position anyway. So I determined that it’s easier to avoid that stiff competition, relax and coast right into my current spot. But I’ve been slacking off for so long that it’s hard for me to get motivated to do anything. That’s one reason why I procrastinate: I rarely feel like anything is terribly important. And that’s how I became a slacker.

The Buddy System

April 30, 2007

Alcoholics Anonymous uses a “buddy” system to help alcoholics stop drinking. I think the same idea would work for procrastinators. Imagine a web site where you enter some short-term, realistic goals. Then you add the names of one or more buddies who will monitor your success. You check off a goal when you’ve finished, then you must show your buddy you’ve finished the task. The goal is complete when your buddy agrees and checks off the goal, too. If you’re late on some goals, the system sends an email to your buddy to nag you to finish. The idea is that it’s too easy to lie to yourself or make excuses for not finishing. But it’s harder to lie or make excuses with your friends. Also, there’s some small measure of shame in not finishing a task when your friends are watching. Hopefully, social pressure will help procrastinators finish their goals. I’ll mull this over for another month and, if it still seems like a good idea, try to build a little web site for it. But I’ll need a buddy to nag me to build the site. Could be a Catch-22.


April 2, 2007

I have a severe problem with procrastination. I’ve read books and tried various tricks to no avail. I do manage to get things done eventually, but it’s always a crazy sprint to beat a final deadline. I’m sure it’s just a stupid psychological avoidance technique so I don’t have to admit that I’m not as good as I wish I were. If I do things at the last minute, then I can say my work was good enough, but I could have done better if I weren’t so damn lazy. I need to quit doing this. I need some discipline. So I’m inaugurating a new tag to think about procrastination and a solution. I’ll bottle the solution and sell it for $19.99 on the Home Shopping Network. Now I need to get started.