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Originals may have been the most dangerous thing I read this year


I've been trying to get back into the reading habit. I finished the Originals (rather quickly) in March and I think it may be the most dangerous think I read this year.

There's a number of ideas in the book, but the one that really resonated with me is Adam Grant's endorsement of procrastination (his NY Times write-up here).

My quick summary is that he finds that often waiting till the last minute to finish any work results in the best output. You still need to start early, but waiting to finish means you've been mulling the project for a while and iterating on it mentally. I've found this to be so true for things that I work on - in particular presentations and talks.

Starting early means, you have a framework in mind and start the wheels turning how what you want to say, but by holding off on finishing the thoughts you don't commit to your initial ideas and are more open to exploring other avenues. I find by the time I'm putting together the final talk (generally the night before), I'm actually on the third or fourth iteration instead of flushing out the first idea.

I can't say I've been doing this strategically - I just naturally like to keep pondering things and need deadlines to finish them - but social science research that proves that this is actually a good idea means I'm just going to keep doing it with more confidence.

So if you're waiting on a preso from me or collaborating with me on one... I apologize in advance. :-)

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