comment by jp ·
2019-08-30T18:20:48.824Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Some thoughts on free time
I've had discussions recently about how to spend free time. I'm blessed with a job with relatively well-specified boundaries (I don't typically work on weekends or outside the hours I'm at the office), but I often still feel like I'm sucked into "unproductive" things in my free time. Here are some things I could want to do during my free time:
1 Maximize global utility directly
2 Maximize moment-to-moment hedonic happiness
3 Maximize long term hedonic happiness
4 Maximize mental recovery for later productivity
5 Use a virtue heuristic for doing things that seems "worthwhile"
6 Do whatever one feels like in the moment
7 Try to accomplish things that sound cool
(1) Seems penny-wise, pound foolish, and paradoxically hurt my altruistic efforts. All of the ones with maximize I endorse caring about to some extent, but not maximizing. I'm especially interested in 4. I feel like 5 has led to some great victories for me. 6 obviously guides a lot of what I do. I'm happy that I do it, but I don't want to elevate it the way some people do. I like doing 7 sometimes, but often it trades of against 1, 2, 4, and 6, in which case I mostly end up not doing it. Thus I think most of my accomplishments have come during work hours. I'm basically ok with this.
Sometimes 6 ends up tanking efforts to do 1-5,7. Here's a list of some things that I don't endorse doing:
1 Binge watching netflix, youtube etc.
2 Scrolling through facebook, twitter, etc.
3 Playing a videogame that grows to consume my time
4 Writing code < 1.5 hours before I'd like to go to bed
5 ~Half of the times I stay up late at parties
I claim that these are usually bad for essentially all of the other goals.
Here are some things that I endorse doing:
1 Visiting individual blogs are reading through what I've missed
2 Churning my personal Evernote todos
3 Trying to answer something I'm curious about
4 Hanging out with friends/boyfriend
There's a gap here where the unendorsed list has a bunch of things I can do even when I'm exhausted, and the endorsed list usually requires at least a little bit of awake-ness. This often makes me very reluctant to take stimulant holidays. The problem I think is that zero effort things are very low points in the energy landscape. This is what makes individual blogs so useful. They're pretty low energy, but they run out of content quickly.
I'd be interested in other recommendations for low energy but finite activities and additions to the goals list. Replies from: Viliam
↑ comment by Viliam ·
2019-08-30T21:26:53.546Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Would it be useful to examine what exactly "low energy" means? For example, if you do not have enough sleep, then you could simply go sleep sooner, or take a nap in the middle of the day. If it's just mental fatigue, you could take a walk in a park.
My personal objection to reading web is that it requires almost zero energy to do, but on the other hand it does not let you replenish the energy. You start reading tired, and you end up just as tired. That's why talking a walk is better, because it liberates your mind a bit.Replies from: jp
↑ comment by jp ·
2019-08-31T15:04:02.605Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
For this purpose there are two related dynamics. How much activation energy it takes to start, and how much energy it takes to leave (usually inversely related). Like an object in a potential energy landscape, being in a low energy state makes it harder to move to a high energy state. I agree there's a surprising lack of correlation between low energy states and relaxing states. Meditating is a clear example of a high energy state, but it is pretty restorative. I don't find binge watching restorative after maybe the first episode or so, but I do find reading a blog for 10 minutes to be so*.
*Possibly because by "blog" you're thinking "intellectual blog like SSC", and I'm talking about what's half the time a tumblr blog.