Productivity, procrastination, discipline, motivation are topics all too common to appear on hacker forums - especially on HN where smart and (mostly) self-taught hackers gather around to discuss and learn from each other.

The below excerpt is from an article that surfaced today and unsurprisingly got a good bit of attention and discussion on the forum.

Productivity has no requisite mental states. For consistent, long-term results, discipline trumps motivation, runs circles around it, bangs its mom and eats its lunch.

In summary, motivation is trying to feel like doing stuff. Discipline is doing it even if you don’t feel like it.

You get to feel good afterwards.

How do you cultivate discipline? By building habits – starting as small as you can manage, even microscopic, and gathering momentum, reinvesting it in progressively bigger changes to your routine, and building a positive feedback loop.

Motivation is a counterproductive attitude to productivity. What counts is discipline.

I’m not really a big fan of the tone these writers take, which is possibly to get readers all amped up but I did find myself feverishly nodding to most of what I read. The major issue with the article is the fact that things aren’t actually that black and white. You do absolutely need motivation to be disciplined.

The TL;DR of the article basically boils down to -

  • Build habits
  • Start small
  • Keep at it

which is something I completely agree with.

As someone rightly wrote - Let motivation tell you what you want, and discipline let you get there.