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This article was published on April 25, 2015

Stop consuming, start acting

Stop consuming, start acting
Paul Jarvis
Story by

Paul Jarvis

Paul Jarvis is a best-selling author and designer. He writes weekly for his popular newsletter</a. Paul Jarvis is a best-selling author and designer. He writes weekly for his popular newsletter</a.

Paul Jarvis is a best-selling author and designer. He writes weekly for his popular newsletter and runs an online course on becoming a better freelancer.

We live in a world of tips and tricks, listicles and deep thoughts (in 140 characters or less). This is a world we actively perpetuate by continually showing how eager we all are to consume this type of information. It lures us in with promises of saving time, building better habits, retiring early by working less, etc…

“19 ways to optimize the way you learn about productivity!”

Like ravenous dogs, we refresh our feeds – even though we just spent the last 20 minutes reading some life-hacking article. Maybe a new one will appear with even more hacks! We salivate for more, unsatiated by the last.

Does all this information make us more prone to act? Does it really make us more efficient? Does it move us forward in any significant way? Are our lives better for consuming these optimizations?


More importantly, is the world now a better place, a place where more action is taken and more time is saved, because we’ve got instant access to this hackery?

“5 mistakes you’re making that are slowing killing your ability to save time!”

Or, are all of these tips ultimately doing the opposite – simply distracting us?

“Declutter your mind with these 108 efficiency tricks!”

Think about it. If you’re focused on learning about productivity, you’re not technically productive at all because you’re spending all your time learning about productivity instead of working. What percentage of lifehacks do you readily apply to your life and are then much better for it? Do you simply consume these tips because it feels like you’re taking action without having to actually act?

It’s a trap. A perfect trap. And it’s one we’ve all had our foot caught in at some time.

“Feeling overwhelmed? Here are 4,539 tips to overcome anxiety – and the 675th one you’ll have to read to believe!”

While small wins can certainly be had from optimizing our lives with the help of tips we read online, how many of us are literally working four-hour work weeks, while simultaneously learning how to overcome every fear we’ve got, and unlocking ultimate happiness?

We’ve somehow put ourselves in a place where “expert” advice in these types of articles holds more weight than it should. It’s become the holy grail, the secret sauce, the one thing we need to learn in order to improve our lives.

In reality, the act of figuring shit out for ourselves, becoming less afraid of looking stupid because we’re learning, and actually having a little fucking self-reliance in our attempts at greatness can take us much, much further. Not just because hacks on the Internet are distracting, but because they’re a crutch.


“23 inspiring quotes from cats who learned how to stop reading quotes and started taking control of their own lives… plus one funny story about a poodle in a top hat!”

These hacks circumvent our own innate intelligence in favour of letting some expert who has a way with words have all the power to lead us. Those words could lead us not only around in circles that seem like progress, but they could potentially lead us to doing something in a way that just doesn’t work for how to process information.

More often than not, there’s more than one way to boost your efficiency. Maybe you work best at night (even if experts say “morning people” are more productive). Maybe your path to happiness can’t be backed by science. Maybe the only reason you have anxiety is because your RSS feed has too many unread life-hack articles in it.

So, next time you see an article on life hackery or some list of actions you could be taking if you weren’t reading a list on taking action – ask yourself why you’re searching externally for advice/shortcuts when you could be working on taking action, in your own way, using your own brilliant mind to figure things out.

You, dear reader, already have all the tools you need to start doing what you want to do. The only thing stopping you is your assumption that what you already know isn’t enough. Challenge this assumption, realize there’s never “knowing enough to start”, and act.

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