How to Avoid Sucking

When I was a kid, there were several words that we were forbidden to use. Stupid was one. Jerk was another. There are seven other words that were strictly on the “you’d better not say” list as well…these words were also never heard on television, either. But there was another word we’d get scolded for if we used in any sentence.

That word was suck.

Let me clarify: we could use it when referring to the vacuum in a positive light or in terms of what said device was supposed to do. We could also use it to describe what we did with a straw. However we were not to use it to illustrate the performance of any person, place or thing. It was verboten.

Fast forward to adulthood. I’m in my thirties now – and I’ve seen my share of sucking. I’ve commented on it, taken part in it and even reveled in it from time to time. There is a ton of sucking that goes on around us every day. Avoiding it is difficult, but not impossible. From my perspective the best way to learn how to avoid “the sucking” is to embrace it first. There’s no way you can avoid it without truly knowing what it is first.

What is Sucking?

There are really two types of sucking or “sucks” in this world:

  • Something that takes away from what you should be doing.
  • The results of your performance when you were spending too much time in something that takes away from what you should be doing.

For the sake of simplification, I’ll call the first examples “sucks” and the second examples of “sucking.”

Common Sucks


It’s a suck because it rarely gives back. It robs of you of valuable time if you let it. The news used to be one of the examples where you got something in return for your investment of time, but with the advent of 24 hour news networks and the return of “yellow journalism” (not to mention the stories that tend to rely on increasing fear rather than knowledge) that has pretty much gone out the window. I’m not saying don’t watch it – I take in a few programs a week – but limit it. There’s much more out there to accomplish that involves turning your eyes and ears away from the television than there are keeping them glued to it. It’s not called “The Idiot Box” for nothing.

The Internet

Much like TV, it can be a real suck. It’s always on and offers so much to the world. When used responsibly, it can be a valuable tool. But if you spend way too much time on it, you’ll wonder where the hours went. Social media, RSS feeds and emails all have their place. Become your own moderator and use tools that help you get your best stuff out there. Unlike the television, it doesn’t have to be a total suck. It can really help you avoid sucking.

Some Other “Sucks”

Poor or non-existent planning, excessive or overly-existent video game playing, unfocused procrastination.

Common Sucking

At Work

The biggest place sucking comes into place is at work. I mean, you spend the majority of your time there, so it’s only natural that is where sucking will rear its ugly head. If you’re unhappy at work, you’ll suck at it. Maybe not right away, but it’ll happen.
If you’re not challenged at work, you’ll suck at it. Not because you’re unable to do what’s laid out in front of you to do on a day-to-day basis, but because you’ll be stuck doing the same thing on a day-to-day basis. You know what? That sucks.

When you find yourself sucking at work, you have to start questioning why. Are you bored? Unfulfilled? Disconnected from your co-workers? Sit down and take stock (yep, pen to paper, my friends!) and figure it out. You might think the prospect of doing this, well, sucks…but once you start to be introspective and really dig deep into what’s going on you’ll find a sense of relief that you’re taking steps to avoid sucking going forward. Once you’ve pinned down what is making you suck, you can start to avoid it.

Umm…Everywhere Else

Guess what? If you’re sucking at work, you’re probably sucking somewhat everywhere else…just different degrees of sucking. A lot of us identify with work as being central – not always the best idea, but it happens.

If you want to avoid sucking in these other places, do the same thing you did at work: take stock. Make a list. The great equalizer among all of us is time, and you’re wasting it if you don’t take action to stop sucking.

You Don’t Have to Suck

I’ve been reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love recently, and while it’s not the defining memoir of a generation, it does bring to light exactly what I’m talking about. Start asking yourself what you really want. Then ask yourself how badly you want it. Then find a way to do it. Be inventive. Be creative. Invest your time in yourself to get there.

No matter how much you find yourself overwhelmed by “suck” at any given moment, you can get yourself out of it if you really want to. Just follow these five steps:

  1. Avoid “the sucks.”

  2. Get to the heart of why you’re sucking.

  3. Find a way to stop sucking.

  4. If you start to find yourself sucking again, repeat steps 1 through 3. Otherwise, go to step 5.

  5. Be awesome now.

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Mike Vardy an editor on Work Awesome. We could tell you where his personal productivity parody site, Eventualism and all of his other projects reside on the web, but you'd be best served going to and following the trail of virtual bread crumbs from there.


  1. Mike Grace on the 3rd April

    What a great post! I’m definitely going to be putting some pen to paper to remove all the suck from my life that I can. Thanks for the great article.

  2. Julius on the 5th April

    I realize that distractions such as using social networks too much and unnecessary procrastination are the major factors that make me suck at work. Having a noisy and cluttered work area used to also be another one, but I’m glad that I’ve changed my work area and it’s much better now. It’s just now down to the two factors above.

  3. Anne on the 7th April

    Getting out the pen and paper now to look at the sucking factor!

  4. The Simple Machine on the 8th April

    Lets see where I am at in living a minimalist life style.

    – I have been television free for 7 months now! I do watch a couple show online, but its effective as no 5 minute ads in the shows. So I can finish them in 40 minutes flat rather than an hour.

    – I have been video game free for almost 3 years now! I am scared buying any console, because I know how fast I get addicted to video games!

    – I am trying to master my time spent online. However, since I started writing my blog, I find that a lot of my time spent online is productive (I am learning new things) not so mindless. But of course there is still time spent just “surfing”!

    – But I agree, work is the biggest suck and the suck that sucks the lives energy out of me. It has definitely impacted other areas of my life, including my health somewhat. I do not find that I have the energy to push myself to the gym. However, I am fighting to get that back.

  5. arnold on the 14th April

    love the post! and also the thumbnail picture XD …
    back then , I do lots of social networking stuff . and it really sucks

  6. Michael on the 28th April

    Great post, like all the other articles on the web site.

    I suck as I get bored easily at work. I build web sites for a living, but there can be large gaps between projects and waiting for designers/clients can take its toll.

    I really want to improve on the following: do my own podcast, do video work, read more, cook more and learn more coding.

    Trouble is with coding, I’ll get started but don’t have the enthusiasm or motivation to push ahead with it. I think I think too much about it.

    Thanks again for this article. I intend to use my time well at work and outside from now on.

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