Day 16 — Stalling for Efficiency



December 2020

Premature optimization is a term in computer science that refers to making code more efficient before necessary. It’s not always bad, but in general, it tends to lead to wasted effort and a false sense of progress.

This applies to other areas of life too. Perfectionists tend to optimize prematurely to make sure they don’t waste time or effort. Ironically, this is counterproductive since it also makes them postpone taking immediate action.

One reason this happens is because Type A personalities tend to set huge, binary goals. All or nothing. “If I don’t meditate daily for 60 min, I won’t do it at all.” But if you miss one day, it elicits a sense of failure, creating a negative feedback loop.

By stalling for efficiency, you stop taking action to develop the perfect environment. You could postpone for days or even months. The best way to counteract this is to ask questions & develop systems that prevent you from prematurely optimizing.

The questions you ask could be as simple as “Is this the most important priority right now?” Instead of designing a logo, build the product first.

Build simple systems where you find the smallest immediate action you can take. Want to start working out? Do one pull-up. Finding ways to stay accountable (like a partner or social proof) also helps.

Adopt the mindset of iteration. Consistent iteration is more reliable than finding the perfect solution from the start.

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by Amaan