Group rationality diary, 7/9/12

post by cata · 2012-07-10T08:35:27.873Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 66 comments

This is the public group instrumental rationality diary for the week of July 9th. It's a place to record and chat about it if you have done, or are actively doing, things like:

Or anything else interesting which you want to share, so that other people can think about it, and perhaps be inspired to take action themselves.  Try to include enough details so that everyone can use each other's experiences to learn about what tends to work out, and what doesn't tend to work out.

Thanks to everyone who contributes!

Academian put up a wiki page with links to the prior May and June threads for reference.  Good idea, thanks!

66 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-10T14:45:02.290Z · score: 23 (23 votes) · LW · GW
comment by aelephant · 2012-07-10T23:05:36.627Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is a corker of a 1st post. Motivational.

comment by Nisan · 2012-07-10T15:59:59.530Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's impressive! Don't forget to pat yourself on the back for keeping up your habits.

comment by MileyCyrus · 2012-07-10T13:31:37.880Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Last month I was looking for remote hospitality work in Australia. I was just about to settle for a fruit picking job, but then I found work at a remote petrol station/convenience store.

I have to the say, the job is everything Louie said it would be. I'm getting the $15.79/hr, with only $6/day living expenses. I get a bedroom to myself and I only have the share the bathroom, kitchen and living room with one other person. Internet is reliable and available all day, as long as I save the high-bandwidth stuff for night. I also have access to satellite TV, an Xbox 360, and a couple hundred dvds.

The job itself is easier than when I was working on petrol station in America. There's no odd hours; I just work 9:30 to 5:30, five days a week. My coworkers are more mature and the customers are more patient than when I was in America. Really the only hard part is trying to talk to some of the aboriginals who don't speak English.

comment by maia · 2012-07-10T13:48:26.073Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What's your hourly wage after taxes? (Curious to compare it to that of my programming internship here in the States.)

comment by MileyCyrus · 2012-07-10T14:08:16.866Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Right now I'm paying 31% taxes out of my $15.79 base pay rate. (Edit: this will probably be reduced if I become a resident for tax purposes.)

(Base pay + superannuation + unused holiday pay) - (taxes + meal deductions) = $10.89/hr

comment by shokwave · 2012-07-10T16:56:46.167Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Significantly reduced. Not sure if residency differs from citizenship, but the first $18,000 you earn is tax-free, then 19% between 18,000 and 37,000, then 32% up to $80,000 (followed by 37% up to 180,000 and 45% from there on). Source

This averages out to something like 7.5% overall? Pretty decent! What's involved in becoming a resident?

comment by MileyCyrus · 2012-07-10T23:28:54.560Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's not exactly clear. The most plausible way I could become a resident for tax purposes is

are visiting Australia for more than six months and for most of that time you live at the same place, and you either have or establish ties in the local community.

The fiscal year starts July 1st. So if I work here another five months, and then get another job near Alice Springs for a couple months, I could pull off the first requirement. Not really sure what having or establishing ties in the local community would entail. Louie managed to get resident status, so maybe I'll ask him about it.

comment by shokwave · 2012-07-10T23:40:55.182Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Probably? Making a few friends, not being shunned. I suspect that clause is mostly there to prevent someone from gaining residency on a technicality.

comment by maia · 2012-07-10T16:51:22.674Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not bad. Subtracting commute costs, my pay just barely clears that (and I live at home, so I basically have 0 cost of living right now).

Thanks for doing this as a data point for the rest of us-- sounds like it's working out well for you, too :)

comment by Xachariah · 2012-07-10T09:26:55.831Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Last week I engaged the Odysseus Protocol and lashed myself to the metaphorical mast. I deleted every videogame on my computer and blocked the IP of every website I go to for pleasure except LessWrong and Youtube. Predictably, my LessWrong time has ballooned, but even at inflated usage my overall internet use is a fraction of what it was before. I'm currently contemplating blocking LessWrong too. My productive time on the computer has quadrupled and I'm vastly more diligent with my Programming, Rosetta Stone, Creative Writing, and Anki. I'm also spending more time off the computer, it takes significantly less willpower for me to do free time activities like go to the gym or clean the house when I know that videogames/internet are not an option. Overall, great success.

Something surprising to me is how ingrained videogames and time wasting websites are to my habits and routine. I'll open up the browser to look up something on google and I'll still immediately click on my bookmarks that have been giving nothing but 404 errors for a week now. In retrospect, there was absolutely no way I could have "willpowered through it," and I can see how all those previous attempts were silly and doomed from the start.

There's a universal principle for realizing potential: things will flourish spontaneously when the conditions are right. Instead of relying on willpower, create those conditions in advance.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2012-07-10T12:55:35.798Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Anecdotally, I did end up having massive productivity during my Media Free March experiment, and completed a C++11 roguelike tech demo game. But I was also interviewing for jobs that month, and that always makes me go manic (the productivity run literally started when I got a phone call that the interview for that day I had been psyching up to had to be moved to next week). Also, I didn't have anything I was procrastinating on, no day job and the game thing was a hobby where a couple of technical problems that had been bothering me previously happened to click early in the month.

The hosts file trick has never worked for me in an actual procrastination situation. I sorta think the entire desktop PC location is the problem, it doesn't really provide an affordance to lean back and think slowly about a complex design issue. The desktop gets associated to quick feedback cycle activities, and when I end up with a problem that involves research, leaning back and thinking slowly about the design for a solution, things don't work out that well. Can't force myself to do a thing before I have figured out just what the thing that needs to be done is.

I could go sit on a sofa with a notebook to get rid of the expectation for a rapid activity cycle, except for the fact that the complex problems also tend to involve dozens of large files of legacy source code. Maybe I should start abusing the office printers?

comment by handoflixue · 2012-08-09T18:57:34.633Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I use my TV as a monitor for my media server - great for watching TV and video. I've found that sitting on the couch with my large-screen laptop and using the TV as a secondary monitor when I need to hold some extra material works very well. Juggling between two controllers helps push me towards a much slower activity cycle. On the other hand, it's very frustrating when I actually want a rapid activity cycle (such as when troubleshooting the Ubuntu install on the media server >.<)

comment by mstevens · 2012-07-11T15:40:37.839Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would be interested to hear more about the media free experiment.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2012-07-11T16:15:45.753Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Basically, no fiction media of any sort (the original Black March campaign focused on copyrighted media, I mostly just went with all fiction), no web sites mainly used for killing time with random links and forum fun, such as Reddit, MetaFilter or TVTropes. I did keep reading LessWrong (questionable, since I pretty much treat this as entertainment, but it's low-traffic enough here that you can't use this as an inexhaustible procrastination source), and I did keep reading my RSS feeds (also questionable, but again those are quickly exhausted). I didn't try to change my IRC use in any way. Nonfiction books (acquired earlier and in the reading queue, to go with the Black March non-consumption idea) were allowed, but I only ended up finishing one popular history book during the month, and don't remember trying to read anything ambitious.

I ended up breaking the media fast twice for social movie-watching. Didn't otherwise miss games, TV or novels so that I'd notice, I don't think I was using those much before either. I do think the silly fun website avoidance did matter.

I've been back in a day job since and haven't really thought about repeating the experiment yet. Might try it again at some point.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-11T14:11:37.612Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My hostfile:

127.0.0.1 lesswrong.com
127.0.0.1 789chan.org
127.0.0.1 4chan.org
127.0.0.1 boards.4chan.org
127.0.0.1 img.4chan.org
127.0.0.1 news.ycombinator.org
127.0.0.1 reddit.com
127.0.0.1 tigsource.com
127.0.0.1 tvtropes.org

Works pretty well, tho my lesswrong habit seems to be strong enough to overpower the host file. Here I am, procrastinating.

comment by aelephant · 2012-07-10T11:51:16.205Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I had to Google the quote because it is so striking. It took me to a post by Dr. Alex Benzer that I'm glad I read. It reminds me a lot of things I've read over at All Japanese All The Time about creating the environment for learning a language.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-11T08:22:24.713Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Please, please use “July 9” rather than “7/9”: the latter usually means ‘7 September’ on this side of the Atlantic. (While you're there, “July 9-15” would be even better.)

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-07-19T15:54:16.603Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The ISO dating standard is generally a good option for avoiding ambiguity. It's sorted from largest to smallest, e.g. 2012-07-18.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2012-07-10T16:55:55.555Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I have discovered a lower bound of cost and inconvenience that will cause me to shoplift. As part of a larger purchase I was trying to buy four boxes of assorted painkillers at a self-service checkout. There are limits on the number of analgesics you can purchase in a single transaction, and I went over it. I was advised to ring the last box through as a separate transaction. Rather than make a second debit card payment for a 19p box of paracetamol, I put it in my bag and walked out.

I am largely a law-abiding citizen, and have never been motivated to shoplift before. This has got me thinking about the circumstances under which I'll transgress other societal norms I'm otherwise in agreement with.

comment by aelephant · 2012-07-10T23:03:25.319Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why is there a limit to the number of boxes of paracetamol you can buy in a single transaction?

The quote:

"Good people disobey bad laws."

comes to mind, although I'm not sure if this is a law or just some stupid rule at the store you went to.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2012-07-10T23:29:27.774Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's a law, and it's to limit opportunist suicide overdose attempts.

Also, it's not the law I broke. I committed an act of theft because I wasn't prepared to go through the inconvenience imposed caused by the supermarket complying with the analgesic sale law.

comment by aelephant · 2012-07-11T13:21:43.722Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're right, the law applies to the seller of the item, not to the purchaser.

If you consider the limit on boxes of paracetamol to be a bad law, the store owners should disobey the law and sell them to you anyway.

Is there a good argument for limiting the number of opportunist suicide overdose attempts? Are these kinds of laws effective? Aren't there almost infinite other ways you could kill yourself that aren't prevented by this law?

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2012-07-11T13:36:59.417Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Another entry for the rationality diary: today I realised I'm not obliged to enter discussions just because I wrote the parent comment they spin off from.

Sorry, but I'm not especially interested in talking about any of these things, and they don't have any bearing on my original comment.

comment by aelephant · 2012-07-11T23:16:43.034Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No one is obliged to enter any discussion ever, as far as I know.

My questions were mostly rhetorical; thinking out loud so to speak.

Regardless, I assume you were trying to be sensitive to my feelings with your apology, so, I appreciate your tact.

comment by GoldenWolf · 2012-07-11T02:56:19.994Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in the military and have strict standards of appearance with regards to hair, uniform, etc. I've spent most of my life believing that spending any time at all on your appearance is a waste of time, as it has no effect on your ability to get stuff done. I've played along with Army regs because that's the rules, but I half-assed it a lot, because I really didn't see the point.

Then I realized (after thinking about it for 2,000 miles of driving) that "society expects it" is actually a really good reason for doing something. A lot of social norms seem stupid and contrived, and I still kind of resent doing stupid things just because everyone else does it, but there are benefits to not being an arrogant prick who's always fighting the standard.

Now I'm going to go spend 10 minutes preparing my uniform, and I don't feel bitter about it at all.

Also, I got tired of packing everything up and then not being able to find anything for a couple weeks. So I wrote down where I packed everything. Why did it take me an entire year to think of that?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-11T14:26:15.860Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I realized the importance of dress when I noticed how much more I respected a man because he was wearing a suit.

We can try to pretend like that stuff doesn't matter, but it does.

comment by duckduckMOO · 2012-09-06T20:58:38.450Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

his point is that it shouldn't matter not that it doesn't matter. Did you until that moment think other people didn't do that sort of thing because you hadn't noticed yourself doing it?

Not that you thought that sort of thing is unfair or silly? In which case it kind of sounds like you suddenly upped your estimate of the rewards of conforming to the shitty standard (due to what could be an unusually high tendency to respect people based on their clothing) and decided to call your abandoning the principle "not pretending that stuff doesn't matter." Now obviously I think this is a shitty way to be and I'm not going to expand on why but what is simply false is the idea that people who dissaprove of the practice of wearing e.g. suits to impress are pretending stuff like that doesn't matter.

I'm completing the pattern here: I'm not sure if that's what you meant. But other people might read it like that and a lot of people would use those words to express that sentiment and I really don't like that sentiment. Hence the comment.

There probably are people who pretend stuff like that doesn't matter but i assume it would have to be just as a soldier argument against people judging people for wearing businessman (or other) costumes or respecting others for doing so. Because, obviously it does matter, right? People discuss these kinds of judgements openly and without shame to the point of internalisation. The only other way that comes immediately to mind to not think it mattered would be to not come across people like that in positions of power (edit: over you) which I'm pretty sure is really rare.

same-edit: but in any case they could notice that this effected other people.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-09-07T15:01:17.374Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure what you're getting at. My comment looks to me like it was voicing agreement to his conclusion from my experience. I have no feelings of "that's as it should be" or "that's stupid" wrt to the fashion thing, it's just how it is.

Before I had that experience, I didn't think dress mattered all that much. Now I do. Looking back at my cognitive state and justification for believing what I believed, it looks like I was pretending it didn't matter, at least on some level.

comment by gwern · 2012-09-07T02:12:10.473Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I spent today reading Dyson's Turing's Cathedral. One point he made in passing a number of times, but which I had generally ignored, was that the socialite Von Neumann almost always wore a suit. I also learned he managed to marry an heiress before correctly cutting all ties with Europe well before 1939, and Dyson seems to imply he arranged for no patents to be taken out on his computer work due to his hefty consulting contracts with IBM.

Epistemic & instrumental rationality: Von Neumann has it.

(Except for his wife reporting that he was superstitious about closing drawers and turning on lights but that sounded like OCD-like tendencies to me, and there is his dying conversion to Catholicism - but his son argues that it was a Pascalian move on his part, so...)

comment by duckduckMOO · 2012-09-06T21:18:17.971Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Fighting standards, especially shitty ones does not make you an arrogant prick. Are those your words or are you just repeating someone else's bullshit way of labelling anyone who resists their standard? You can play along without selling your soul you know. You can even take all pride in the careful preperation, the niceness of the diligence and the cleanliness and discipline, the oppurtunity to meditate etc etc whatever people like about cleaning uniforms, without hating people (like yourself very slightly previously) who think its silly. Why swallow the negative with the positive?>

comment by aelephant · 2012-07-24T12:32:20.374Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Brigid (I assume also a military man) posted in the "Useful maxims" thread that the Marines have a maxim:

-If you can’t get out of it, get into it.

I think it applies beautifully in this case.

comment by moridinamael · 2012-07-10T18:07:04.623Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In September 2011, I moved away from where I had been living for about eight years. I had been working on various writing projects with a close friend for almost that entire span of time. We both wanted to continue our friendship by some means, and we were mutually dissatisfied with the volume of actual writing we had produced in eight years.

We started a blog with the following rules:

  • I had to post an entry Tuesdays and Thursdays. My friend had to post Mondays and Wednesdays.

  • An "entry" is a piece of short fiction in practically any form.

  • Nobody else is allowed to see any entry of the blog without explicit permission from both of us.

  • At the start, we had a firm rule that no "negative criticism" would be allowed.

  • Fail to post on your day and you accumulate a 1000 word "penalty" to be written in the future, on top of your normal writing duties.

I believe that the story of this project has been an important demonstration of instrumental rationality concepts.

I'll briefly describe our results. The highest number of entries posted in a month was 18, which was actually more than the required number of posts in that month. The lowest number of posts in a complete month (before May 2012) was 6, and then the post count for May, June and July of 2012 has been 5, 3, and 0, respectively. All told, our average was 11.1 posts per month, with a total of 111 pieces of short fiction of various forms written in this 10 month period, between the two of us.

Many of these entries were good. Some few of them qualify as the best things either of us had yet written, by some metric. For example, I completed a short story over the course of five consecutive entries - this was the longest piece of fiction I have ever completed. Some single standalone entries were themselves surprisingly powerful. Some entries were "chapters" in a book that we were writing together, and these were generally some of the most fun.

Many of the 111 entries were "churning," or, just getting something down on the page, getting some sticky idea out of our heads to a place where we could play with it, and discover whether it was worth saying anything more about. A few of the entries were baldly "fake" attempts to avoid the 1000 word punishment, and we usually had the good grace to make up for these atrocities on our own recognizance.

We agreed to the "no negative criticism" rule because we were more concerned with being motivated and establishing frequent writing as a habit, than insisting that all our writing be "good" from the start. Furthermore, when you squeeze out a piece of writing in two hours before bed for the purpose of entertaining your friend, you already know it's not very good along some dimensions, you don't need to be told what its flaws are. It's actually much more interesting to discuss what did work, what was interesting about the piece despite its flaws.

Now, I'm not ready to say that we've failed, but we are definitely in a slump, and I'll tell you why. My friend moved away from our former residence recently, and this severely disrupted his habits. He has no Internet access where he is now, for one thing. And when he stopped updating regularly, I stopped updating regularly. I did not decide to do this. I did not rationalize it, there simply "stopped being enough time" for me to fit in writing. Somehow, even on days where I surfed the internet for two hours, there wasn't enough time to write something for the blog.

I think the reason this blog worked so well as a motivational tool are reflected in the reasons why it stopped working. I needed to be able to rely on my friend reading my works, and then giving me positive feedback about the work. And I needed to know that my friend would be disappointed if I didn't post an entry on my assigned day. And I knew that I would feel guilty if my friend was keeping up his end of the project and I was dropping the ball. And I wanted to keep reading his highly entertaining stories, so I was motivated to motivate him with my own stories. And there was probably an element of friendly competition as well. When my friend stopped being able to read and post stories, I stopped wanting to post them!

This blog was a very important part of my life for almost a year. My wife could tell you how dedicated I was to the project for most of its run. It is fascinating to me how my motivation and passion disappeared almost the moment I knew that my partner wasn't going to be able to participate fully.

comment by listic · 2012-07-10T19:43:02.134Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for sharing.

I think doing more of the work (writing) as punishment was a wrong move. It carries the notion that work is punishment, which is not what you want, I think.

Is writing easier for you now?

comment by moridinamael · 2012-07-10T20:29:55.467Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree. In fact, we eventually dropped the whole idea of having a punishment when we realized that letting your partner down is the real punishment. (Also, at one point, one of us had racked up 5000 words in punishments and this became something of a disincentive to work on the project at all. At that point, we wiped he punishment record clean.

Is writing easier for me now? YES. Largely because I destroyed a lot of false beliefs/aliefs I had held about what writing requires. Here are some false beliefs I no longer have: "Writing requires long periods of intense concentration." "You have to be in the right mood for writing." "Writing dialogue is hard."

Some of my entries were written on my phone while I commuted. This means some parts were written as I walked between the subway train and the bus that went to my apartment, entailing a near-constant state of interruption. Previously I had held onto the notion that writing required a special quiet place with no distractions and a solid chunk of time. This may be necessary for editing a piece of writing into something really good, but I no longer believe it's necessary to get a decent first draft.

I'm now much more likely to write out an idea that I have than I ever was before, and that by itself makes the project a success in my mind.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-11T18:19:48.265Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I tried adderall. It was terrible. My reaction to it was the complete opposite of what it should have been. It put me in a negative emotional state. I felt depressed and stressed, like there was something constricting my chest and throat. I felt on the verge of crying/screaming for large portions of the evening.

It made it harder to concentrate on a single task. I was trying to do reading, and I had to also be singing along with music as well (I normally work with headphones on, but singing along is NOT a norm.) or I would get antsy. I was reading something that I would normally find really interesting, but on adderall it couldn't hold my attention at all. It (and everything else) seemed boring and like an undesirable task. My motivation to do things like "take the dog outside," or "do ANYTHING" also plummeted. (Don't worry about my pup. Of course I DID take him outside. It just took more effort.)

My reaction was weird enough that I double-checked that the pill wasn't a placebo, and that my dosage was strong enough that it shouldn't be explainable by "I just happened to have a really bad day that day."

So, adderall....never again.

comment by evand · 2012-07-13T19:10:36.613Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you don't mind my asking, what dose did you try? I've used adderall regularly at low to moderate-low doses with very typical responses, and find myself curious about atypical responses.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-14T03:04:55.321Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I took about 7 mg of it.

As an aside, I used modafinil to go without sleep last night, and it was AMAZING! I'll write more on it later, after it's over.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2012-07-18T16:36:23.619Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm glad that you like it! I feel the same way about it and its enactiopure cousin r-modafinill which doesn't have much of an uncomfortable body high even in higher doses like 300mg.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2012-07-11T21:34:23.340Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My advice is try a safer stimulant like modafinil. Mymodafinil.com is a good souce that will also help you try the enactiopure version which has been know to produce less body high like effects you described above.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-11T21:56:15.466Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Most definitely. I'm trying modafinil on Friday. It was just timing/convenience that I happened to try adderall first.

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2012-07-10T16:37:01.252Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I recently began flossing every other day. I've also been managing to maintain my exercise program, a very un-ambitious schedule of running 2 miles twice a week; I had a long break during the spring when I was much troubled with allergies.

comment by tgb · 2012-07-11T02:30:34.204Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

On flossing, I want to note for others that my dentist said once every other day was sufficient. I like once a day so that when I forget it shouldn't matter. I haven't done any research to confirm or deny this, though. Also, the number I was given was that flossing increased your life expectancy by two years - prior to hearing this I had never motivated myself to floss.

comment by gjm · 2012-07-11T10:07:54.908Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I would be interested to know how carefully the analysis that produced that number dealt with, e.g., the likelihood that people sufficiently concerned and conscientious to floss their teeth regularly are also more likely to be taking good care of their bodies in other ways.

comment by tgb · 2012-07-25T01:27:30.964Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A little old now, but I just noticed this comment. My recollection of the dentists words were that it increased your life expectancy by two years. That is, if you were guessing how old someone would live, knowing that they flossed would put them at two years above an average person. In other words, there isn't necessarily the slightest bit of causality in this assessment. I still find this sufficient motivation to floss, so I don't care. It would be a good idea to not take this on faith if you were interested in the truth, rather than in just motivating yourself to floss.

Edit: the other thing that helped convince me was the dentist telling me that the bleeding you get when you start isn't that you haven't developed calluses or whatever, it's that your gums are swollen/irritated due to bacteria living off your teeth. Getting past the bleeding is a sign that your flossing is working and gums are no longer irritated.

comment by hamnox · 2012-07-12T21:14:58.497Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Last Time I wrote about completing 1 rationality checklist item a day. That... has not panned out. Some of the habits are reactionary and can't be sought out very readily, and I've also just been forgetting to do it while I'm at work and school.

comment by maia · 2012-07-13T02:55:45.826Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For the ones you're just forgetting: could you remind yourself somehow? (e.g. write it on your hand, Post it notes, some binder you use a lot during the day, etc.)

Reactionary ones are tricky though.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2012-07-12T23:36:48.514Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Keep Trying!

comment by OrphanWilde · 2012-07-13T20:09:48.560Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I've realized I have a conflict between my political beliefs and my hierarchy of ethics; I've long held that law, morality, and etiquette were distinct (but potentially overlapping) sets, but have just realized that my political views are "conveniently" identical to my ethical views. Which means I either need to reformulate the hierarchy or reformulate my political beliefs.

Which is messy, because that hierarchy figures into my metapolitical beliefs about what law should and should not be.

comment by maia · 2012-07-16T13:14:19.207Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wait a minute. Would you rather your political views not be consistent with your ethical views?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2012-07-16T13:22:34.976Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

They should be consistent, -not- identical.

If I'm to hold the position that law and ethics are distinct matters for other people ("You shouldn't legislate morality," more or less), it becomes problematic when they are not for me. Law should be ethical, yes, but shouldn't encompass ethics.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-11T08:21:14.566Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was fed up with my insomnia, so I started taking melatonin (5mg pills about an hour before going to bed). It doesn't seem to work for me.

comment by MatthewBaker · 2012-07-11T21:39:30.704Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Melatonin has a U shaped dose-response curve. I have found that lower doses will always work better until below 1mg with no tolerance.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-11T23:45:24.844Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My pills can easily be broken into two, so I'll try taking 2.5 mg instead.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-07-14T00:51:01.401Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Still way too high.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2012-07-12T00:30:35.135Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I never take more than 2mg. I bought 1mg pills. I'm no longer a regular user but the effects are noticeable (mainly waking w/ early light; the feeling of being tired could easily be placebo)

comment by maia · 2012-07-10T17:54:42.209Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I started the habit of taking a walk every day after work, because I suspected that not getting any exercise was a drain on my happiness. I also started rewarding myself for noticing my posture and straightening up (and put a reminder in my cube to do so), and it seems to be working so far.

I also started doing GTD-style weekly reviews again. Only done it once so far. I've previously failed at this because other commitments came up and it became impossible for me to do it at the same time every week, as I was trying to do. So this time, I decided to treat it like an appointment with another person: somewhat negotiable in the exact timing, but still high-priority. I'm very reliable with those, so hopefully the remapping will make me more likely to do it.

comment by GuySrinivasan · 2012-07-10T17:13:55.815Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Per orthonormal's suggestion I started recording every time I noticed any sort of lack of productivity-conducive activity at work. We'll see how it goes. Yesterday I made 17 notes. Also I looked up how to insert the date/time in Evernote. It's CTRL + ;. Also I did note this instance of interneting already.

I finally took my bike out for a ride.

I'm using ActiveInbox per lukeprog's suggestion. I like it a lot. I'm not sure how far back in my 15,000 emails I want to go before bulk archiving all the remaining emails, but going back over the past month I found about a dozen dangling threads I wanted to follow up on with an email or task.

Yesterday I tried to drive my remaining GMail tasks down to 0. I instead went from 13 to 10. Then up to 13 again.

comment by Despard · 2012-07-10T16:52:04.660Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Fashion update: many people have complimented me on how good I'm looking!

This last couple of weeks I've started using RememberTheMilk to manage my tasks a bit better. It's coming along. I'm probably not using it to its full potential yet but I'm actually GTD so that's a start.

I've also experimented with Pomodoro to increase productivity; the couple of times I used it it seems to work. More data required.

comment by aelephant · 2012-07-10T11:55:13.601Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I recently tried and failed at maintaining the habit of flossing my teeth. Prompted by suggestions in that thread, I purchased 2 rolls of dental floss instead of 1, so that next time I finish a roll of floss, my habit doesn't get broken while I procrastinate on buying a new one. I think I'm about 3 days in flossing twice a day.

comment by gwern · 2012-07-24T14:44:10.267Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

When I was reading the remote researcher submissions on the psychology of habit formation, I noted that trying to form a habit after a disruptive life-change like moving somewhere was considered one of the best times to do so by the researchers. I merely noted it down for later thought since I wasn't planning to move anywhere.

Unexpectedly, I moved down to Maryland a few weeks ago, and my dentist the day before the move strongly urged me (on account of various worrisome regions on my teeth) to start brushing twice a day, flossing, and using fluoride mouthwash. I can't do that! I thought, especially with the chaos and disruption of a move! But I decided to give it a try anyway - since it matched the literature recommendations exactly. And I've managed to do all 3 every day since.

Who knew that sometimes psychology could be right and practical?

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2012-07-10T14:26:17.997Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Dental floss is not expensive. Why not buy many rolls? I have one in my work drawer, one on my desk at home and one in the bathroom.

I wish I could say this was motivated by clever psychological foresight. In fact, I routinely buy duplicates of consumables like dental floss, deodorant, sticking plasters, painkillers, etc., because I forget where I put the ones I already have. It actually works out quite well.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-07-10T17:28:27.383Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I finally just bought enough scissors so that all the places scissors go were filled up. At that point, at least one pair of scissors has nowhere to hide.

comment by aelephant · 2012-07-10T23:09:39.213Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I only ever floss at home, in the morning after breakfast (if I eat breakfast) or after finishing my coffee and at night after dinner, so I don't feel like I need them scattered everywhere. If I put them all at home, they're taking up space and I'm not actively using them, so I feel like having 2 is enough at this point. I suppose I'm also less forgetful than you are: my dental floss has exactly one "home" so I always know where it is.

comment by mstevens · 2012-07-10T10:20:52.043Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Doing the ST101 stats course. I'm not sure if I like the style, but I'm learning a lot, and think it would be valuable for all lesswrongians not already familiar with stats.

We did Bayes Rule last week, including doing a python implementation.

I went and saw my dentist about something that's been bothering me for a while, but I was irrationally delaying treatment for.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-11T01:51:00.748Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I used to have lots of tabs open in my web browser. Sometimes more than a thousand. I've installed the Tab Utilities plugin for Firefox and enabled "multi-row tab bar", so that all the tabs are all visible, which covers up the browsing window if their are too many. After installing it I quickly reduced my tab count and have since been fluctuating around 100 +/- 20 tabs. I previously tried "Tree Style" tabs, which didn't fit my workflow and had some bugs (which probably just manifest for hundreds of tabs).

I'm still looking for a way to reduce and limit the volume of my document directories.