"2 Shitty Pages" - Tim Ferriss on Lowered Quotas and Efficiency

Author Timothy Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef) at the 5:06 mark talks about how in daily tasks, lowering quotas allows you to achieve higher productivity. Lowered quotas help lower the inertia of starting tasks, which can be particularly difficult to overcome if you don’t really like the task.

His example is writing, which I personally hate doing in a systematic way. He mentions a particularly prolific friend who would consider the day a win if he produced “two shitty pages.” This is great, because often times it’s just the process of getting through that is difficult - we tend to want to edit as we are writing instead of after the fact. Perfectionism sounds great, but can be debilitating in terms of habituation. This mentality negates the need for perfection.

Programs like NaNoWriMo are particularly successful because they advocate the process of just getting the words onto the page whether they are good or not. Editing comes later, but is less psychologically debilitating than having to write words that need to perfect from the start.

The program I’m fiddling around with now, 750words, advocates the same thing in the form of “morning pages” - a practice that can equally be used for professional writing or to break out of writer’s block.

I’ve noticed that with most of my writing, it’s the act of just getting started that takes forever.