↑ comment by Viliam_Bur ·
2014-06-03T22:42:08.261Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Do we know whether akrasia is just one thing?
I suspect that it's not, and that treating different situations as the same thing just because there is a surface similarity ("something should be done, but either isn't done or is done too late") means ignoring the details which are critical for understanding the situation and fixing the problem.
Seems to me there are at least three different situations:
a) There is a task that I would enjoy doing, and I would actually do it if you locked me in a room without internet access for an hour or two. But in normal situation I am likely to start reading something on internet, and then it's too late and I have to sleep.
b) There is a task that I hate doing, and I already have serious "ugh field" around it. I would do anything to avoid it. Even if I can't escape and do something else, I would prefer to just close my eyes and pretend the task doesn't exist. In reality I do a small part, and then I find any excuse to run away.
c) The task is not done for objective reasons, e.g. I originally extremely underestimated the amount of work it would take, and overestimated my amount of free time.
And then of course it could a combination of two or three of these points. But I think they are not reducible merely to one (and therefore one solution will not fit all of them). For example, sometimes what feels like an (a) may actually be a (b); there may be a hidden "ugh field" we don't want to admit. Like, I want to program a computer game, my self-image tells me that I should love programming games, but I am actually afraid that I would fail, but I don't want to admit this fear to myself. On the other hand, sometimes I procrastinate on things like watching movies, which doesn't seem like a hidden fear.
Also, not all work is equivalent. It may be easier to work on something that feels meaningfull, than on something that feels completely useless. Or it may be easier to work when I know my friends are working too. Etc. There may be important things that we even don't suspect of being important, so we don't include them in the description of them problem. And these things may differ between individuals, because they depend on personality (whether they care about friends are doing) or beliefs (whether they consider the same work meaningful).
Replies from: NancyLebovitz
↑ comment by NancyLebovitz ·
2014-06-04T13:04:12.852Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I suspect there's a physical component-- sometimes doing things feels like I have to haul myself over a high threshold to get started-- and it probably won't be easy to continue, either. (Some people find it hard to get started, but easy to continue.)
In any case, the difficulty with starting might be a serotonin/dopamine thing, or at least it sounds like a very mild version of a Parkinson's symptom.
Replies from: Viliam_Bur
↑ comment by Viliam_Bur ·
2014-06-05T23:31:42.090Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
It seems to me that sometimes my ability to do things correlates with weather (high/low pressure), but I don't keep records to prove or disprove this hypothesis. Just writing it here as an example for a hypothesis I would usually not think about. It doesn't explain why person X is more productive than person Y, but it could explain why person Y failed on a specific day.