by Will Schreiber

Unlearning school

It’s taken me years to unlearn things I learned in school.

I used to write introduction paragraphs first. I used to reference the thesaurus. I used to drink eight cokes a day. Those were easy enough to fix.

But the most damaging thing school taught me was the “Herculean All-Nighter” folly. Unlearning it has been a slog.

In school, semesters are only four months. Tests come every few weeks. Homework takes a couple hours. “Huge Tests” mean studying all day instead of starting after dinner.

I got used to being able to finish projects with one up-until-dawn push.

By the time I was in college, I knew it took me exactly one hour to write one page of an essay. At 8am the day before my Economic History of the U.S. paper was due, I stopped procrastinating because I was down to the exact amount of time it would take me to finish: 25 hours.

There was a certain satisfaction in these heroic pushes, in chugging Coca-Cola and cramming for tests and walking across campus with a coffee in hand and sliding a paper onto the professor’s desk.

When I first started building apps, I applied the same Herculean mentality to the challenge. I binged PHP tutorials and stayed in Central Library until they shut the lights off, trying to properly release objects in pre-ARC Objective-C.

I always thought apps were one all-nighter away from being finished.

One time I told a guy I’d have an app I was working on finished by the next morning. “Easily,” I thought. When we met up for coffee the next day, I had massive bags under my eyes. It messed up my sleep for a week.

Process goals have finally replaced the Herculean strategy I used to carry around. I wish I’d learned about them a decade ago.

The most rewarding things in life - wealth, health, sourdough pizza - cannot be built by brute condensed force. They all require consistency.

Doing things (n) < Doing things well (2n) < Doing things well, consistently (2n^2)