Paul Graham在其个人网站最近发布了名为《How to do great work》的文章，给仍然雄心勃勃的年轻人提了一些建议，适合每位对自己仍有期望的朋友反复阅读。下面是本文的第四部分摘录：
Even when you’ve found something exciting to work on, working on it is not always straightforward. There will be times when some new idea makes you leap out of bed in the morning and get straight to work. But there will also be plenty of times when things aren’t like that.
You don’t just put out your sail and get blown forward by inspiration. There are headwinds and currents and hidden shoals. So there’s a technique to working, just as there is to sailing.
For example, while you must work hard, it’s possible to work too hard, and if you do that you’ll find you get diminishing returns: fatigue will make you stupid, and eventually even damage your health. The point at which work yields diminishing returns depends on the type. Some of the hardest types you might only be able to do for four or five hours a day.
Ideally those hours will be contiguous. To the extent you can, try to arrange your life so you have big blocks of time to work in. You’ll shy away from hard tasks if you know you might be interrupted.
It will probably be harder to start working than to keep working. You’ll often have to trick yourself to get over that initial threshold. Don’t worry about this; it’s the nature of work, not a flaw in your character. Work has a sort of activation energy, both per day and per project. And since this threshold is fake in the sense that it’s higher than the energy required to keep going, it’s ok to tell yourself a lie of corresponding magnitude to get over it.
It’s usually a mistake to lie to yourself if you want to do great work, but this is one of the rare cases where it isn’t. When I’m reluctant to start work in the morning, I often trick myself by saying “I’ll just read over what I’ve got so far.” Five minutes later I’ve found something that seems mistaken or incomplete, and I’m off.
Similar techniques work for starting new projects. It’s ok to lie to yourself about how much work a project will entail, for example. Lots of great things began with someone saying “How hard could it be?”
This is one case where the young have an advantage. They’re more optimistic, and even though one of the sources of their optimism is ignorance, in this case ignorance can sometimes beat knowledge.
Try to finish what you start, though, even if it turns out to be more work than you expected. Finishing things is not just an exercise in tidiness or self-discipline. In many projects a lot of the best work happens in what was meant to be the final stage.
Another permissible lie is to exaggerate the importance of what you’re working on, at least in your own mind. If that helps you discover something new, it may turn out not to have been a lie after all.
#Paul Graham #How to do great work