Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Actually Getting Things Done

A fine post from Harry Marks on the narrow divide between passion and obsession, but perhaps a level of persnicketiness can define someone’s ability to actually get things done. Consider:

And how can I forget my first love and eternal mistress, coffee? I’m not going to worry about how long the beans were roasted or how fast I’m performing the Japanese upside-down inverted pour-over technique. Maybe all I need is a cup of McDonalds’ java because it’s fast and caffeinated and good enough.

Firstly, I’d be impressed if you could do an inverted pour-over technique, Marks. Kudos.

Second, while Marks is comfortable with a cup of McDonalds’ coffee in a pinch, I would argue that a level of obsession in my coffee is necessary for me to get things done. A while back, I was sitting in an editing suite, and someone else working in the suite brought me a cup of coffee on a whim. I’d never told this person what I do (or don’t) like in my cup, so you can imagine my surprise when it was a dark roast filled with sugar. It was so awful that it was undrinkable. I appreciated the gesture, but I simply could not stomach it.

The terribleness of the coffee was too distracting for me to accomplish the work I was trying to do.

My daily coffee takes ten minutes from the cold kettle being put on the burner to having a filled cup. That’s not short, but it’s not bad — you’d wait longer in most cafés, anyway. But I don’t weigh my beans or water. I don’t check to ensure the grind is absolutely consistent day-to-day. I’m a snob, but a lazy one.

So perhaps the challenge is finding the level of passion for things that matter, in a way that doesn’t impede your life. I know I’ve found my perfect pen: it’s any ballpoint with ink in it.