Cold showers for the sake of productivity

July 19, 2009 by Jared Goralnick

Shower (a strobist photo by Sean McGrath)For two weeks, I’ve only had cold showers.  I think I’m better for the experience: they’ve become a symbol for just how easy it is to get through things I don’t look forward to.

Here are a few quick lessons learned from this.

I enjoy creature comforts as much as the next spoiled 20-something, but my apartment in Barcelona just doesn’t have warm water.  Inexplicably, sometimes it’s even icy cold.  But you learn to live with certain things.

It’s painful to step in a cold shower.  It’s painful to rise from bed at the sound of the alarm.  In the former case there’s little reason to suffer.  In the latter, all logic tells us we should get up when we had planned to.  And yet…

Drawing the analogy of just how easy it is for me to hop in a cold shower (something that, admittedly, is better than the alternative of avoiding one altogether) makes it easier for me to get out of bed…and a few other things.  Here’s why, as well as some other thoughts on the topic:

  1. Life doesn’t have to be perfect.  Ever since college,c` life has gotten easier but the stakes a little higher.  In addition to cold showers this summer, I’m reading Spanish, watching movies in Spanish, and attempting to converse in it.  Much of the time, it’s either daunting or just plain frustrating.  But we forget that sometimes the process just sucks, and that’s totally okay.  Once upon a time many of us had tolerances for getting through the difficult things, but there’s less reason or motivation to get out of our comfort zone as we get older.  Bleh, move on and just do it.  Which reminds me:
  2. Sometimes it’s about the journey, but sometimes it’s about the destination.  We like to talk about how we need to enjoy the process.  And for most of our ambitions, it is important that we’re not just working to live or living to work or whatever.  But sometimes it really is about the goal, which may be worth it for a little bit of sacrifice.
  3. Waiting doesn’t help.  Some things aren’t fun, but putting them off only pisses me off.  Why delay the start of my day just because I don’t want to deal with a cold shower?  Why put off clearing your inbox?
  4. You can get used to anything.  Along with point #1, we as humans have an incredible ability to acclimatize.  Sure, the weather doesn’t get much better than southern California but we do fine wherever we are.  I’m not saying we should intentionally make our lives miserable, but there are things that matter and things that don’t when it comes to getting through the day.
  5. Pressure helps.  When things are easy-peasy we take our time.  When things aren’t, we respond to the pressure.

This may all seem like a silly analogy.  However, we don’t get to choose what motivates us.  The point is just that you get over life’s little difficulties that you have no choice about, so why not realize it is possible and apply that to the difficulties you choose to overcome.  Give it a shot.  Hop in the shower.

You should really subscribe to Technotheory via Subcribe via email email or rss.

2 Responses to “Cold showers for the sake of productivity”


  1. Victoria Pickering

    Jared -
    As usual, your advice is great – but this time especially so since I could use the reminder that “waiting doesn’t help” again and again. I’ve bookmarked this post to make sure I reread that classic phrase many times.

  2. Darpan

    Thank you for it.Its this on what i really need to work on.Your words are really inspiring.Keep it up.I have become a fan of you and am following you on twitter too.

    Thank you ,

Impart Your Theoretically Interesting Wisdom

Your Comments