The Cult of Not Done Manifesto

It seems to me that hacker culture seems to be focused too much on doing lately. There’s nothing wrong with doing things. In fact, I like doing things quite a bit. However, not a week goes by when I don’t see another blog post about how to be more productive and get more done.

I sometimes wonder if hackers are the new teenage girls in a certain sense. Teenage girls are constantly bombarded with images of women who are so beautiful in ways they’ll never be. Of course, we’ve all heard of the negative effects this has. Girls become anorexic and go on unhealthy diets just so they can be beautiful. They’re too caught up in being like supermodels that they have difficulty accepting that they really don’t have to be supermodels to be beautiful.

Us hackers are a lot like that. Hacker news is constantly bombarded with stories about hackers getting amazing things done. Everytime I’ve been to a hacker meetup of some kind, the first and only question is always some variant of “So what are you working on?” Of course the answer is supposed to be either you’re putting in hours and hours on your startup or you have a day job and another “job” that is your real passion.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with some constructive encouragement. However, I think we’re collectively going down the wrong path. The path of having spent our youths solving a ton of problems that people probably won’t even care about 10 years from now anyway.

So in the vein of the “Cult of Done Manifesto”, I present the “Cult of Not Done Manifesto”. This something I’ve been unconsciously writing my entire life because that’s all I’ve had:

  1. There are two stages of being: not done and less not done.
  2. Accept that no programmer has ever died from having their project be in the not done status for too long.
  3. Sometimes good things take time.
  4. Slack off. Spend time you should be spending being productive reading a blog or conversing with a friend.
  5. Your project will be there for you tomorrow. And the next day. If it isn’t, are you sure it was such a big deal anyway?
  6. Ask yourself a question: is it really that important? Will peoples’ lives be better 10 years from now because of what you’re doing? Chances are good that the answers to these two questions are the same.
  7. Just make sure to at least get something done. The Cult of Not Done isn’t an excuse to be a worthless bum.