Five Whys 2021-06-07T08:01:02.810Z
The 10,000-Hour Rule is a myth 2021-02-01T04:47:03.868Z
Theory Of Change As A Hypothesis: Choosing A High-Impact Path When You’re Uncertain 2020-11-28T04:38:19.981Z
Being Productive With Chronic Health Conditions 2020-11-05T00:22:50.871Z
Noticing Wasted Motion 2020-09-17T02:30:28.273Z
Five Ways To Prioritize Better 2020-06-27T18:40:26.600Z
Self-Experiment: Does Working More Hours Increase My Output? 2020-04-03T21:36:21.628Z
How Long Can People Usefully Work? 2020-04-03T21:35:11.525Z
High Variance Productivity Advice 2020-03-01T07:05:36.544Z
How time tracking can help you prioritize 2019-12-16T17:07:17.045Z
How to Improve Your Sleep 2019-10-27T23:28:44.228Z
How Much is Your Time Worth? 2019-09-02T06:19:28.511Z


Comment by lynettebye on The 10,000-Hour Rule is a myth · 2021-02-05T23:04:22.777Z · LW · GW

But Ericsson's research found that one group of expert violinists averaged 10,000 hours. Another group of "expert" violinists averaged 5,000 hours, and other numbers he cites for expertise range from 500 to 25,000. So really, it's generalizing from "you should have 10,000 hours of practice by the time you're 20 if you want an international career as a violinist" to "you should get 10,000 hours of practice if you want to be an expert in anything".... 

Comment by lynettebye on The 10,000-Hour Rule is a myth · 2021-02-03T19:45:50.681Z · LW · GW

So I put that example because one of the things that felt like a breakthrough in cooking ability for me was seeing a post listing a bunch of world cuisines by spices (I think it was a post by Jeff Kaufman, but I can't find it now). Having a sense of which spices usually contribute to the flavor profile I want made me a better cook than my arbitrary "sniff spice and guess whether that would be good" previous method. 

Comment by lynettebye on The 10,000-Hour Rule is a myth · 2021-02-03T19:37:12.842Z · LW · GW

So while you're spending your 10k hours on some creative pursuit, maybe it's worth spending one hour brainstorming these "other means".

Arguably a great example of deliberate practice for finding better methods. 

Comment by lynettebye on The 10,000-Hour Rule is a myth · 2021-02-03T19:34:24.713Z · LW · GW

That seems likely. I'm not calling Gladwell out - I also haven't read the book, and there's probably a pretty defensible motte there. However, it seems likely that he laid the foundation for the popular internet version by overstating the evidence for it, e.g. this quote from the book: “The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours." 

And the rule-run-amok-on-the-internet generally assumes necessary and sufficient, e.g. this quote from Ericsson "The popular internet version of the 10 000 h rule suggests that attaining expert performance is all about getting more and more practice and experience in a given domain of activity and then reaching an expert status at 10 000 h."

Comment by lynettebye on How to Improve Your Sleep · 2021-02-03T19:06:46.671Z · LW · GW

Interesting. None of the sleep doctors I spoke to recommended data sources. However, they seemed to consider even at-home professional sleep tests with skepticism, so this might say more about the level of accuracy they want than about the potential usefulness of personal devices. 

As for age, I tried to focus this post on actionable advice. The non-actionable factors that influence sleep are simply to numerous for me to cover properly, and, unfortunately, however impactful aging is on sleep, reversing aging isn't (yet!) in my repertoire of recommendations. 

Comment by lynettebye on How Long Can People Usefully Work? · 2021-01-21T17:46:13.024Z · LW · GW

Sounds like you're describing autonomy, mastery, and meaning - some of the big factors that are supposed to influence job satisfaction. 80,000 Hours has an old but nice summary here  I expect job satisfaction and the resulting motivation make a huge difference on hours you can work productively. 

Comment by lynettebye on How Much is Your Time Worth? · 2020-12-10T21:11:06.005Z · LW · GW

For retired and homemaking folks, I think that's really up to them. I don't have a good model for external evaluation. For a student who wants to do impactful things later, I think the calculations are similar. 

Since I can't link to it easily, I'm reposting a FB post by Rob Wiblin on a similar point: 
"There's something kinda funny about how we don't place much value on the time of high school and undergraduate students.

To see that, imagine that person X will very likely be able to do highly valuable work for society and earn a high peak income of say $100 an hour by the time they're 35. As a result they'll work a solid 50-60 hours a week.

But today, as a 19 year old undergraduate, X is only able to earn $15 in hospitality. They also feel they quickly hit declining returns on studying and so, like many undergrads, spend a lot of time goofing off and having fun, because it seems like the opportunity cost of their time is really low.

That's fine as a lifestyle choice, but the whole scenario is also... weird. 

If their career advancement is purely determined by how quickly they learn what they need to learn, and generally become fully-fledged adults, then the true opportunity cost of each hour should be closer to $100 than $20. 

That's because each extra day of training they do now should bring forward the day they reach their peak productivity by about... a day. Their opportunity cost being low is an illusion stemming from it not yet being tangible and measurable.

If we model career progression as literally just a linear series of steps that take you from zero productivity up to a peak plateau productivity, before then going back down due to the effects of ageing, then the opportunity cost at the outset, before you've learned anything at all is... the productivity at the peak.

Of course many things interfere with this simplified analysis:
• Becoming more productive is partly just a matter of growing older in calendar time, as the brain, body and personality mature.
• Lots and lots of career capital is gained through 'goofing off', following random interests, exploring the world, working on yourself & your mental health, and socialising. People who skip these parts of life often face problem later on. So what looks 'unproductive' will often be as good as or better than formal training.
• If you're on an inflexible path (e.g. becoming a radiologist) there may simply be no way to speed up the rate at which you learn or can start working. You have to go through a series of predetermined steps that suit the average participant, using materials you can't access yourself, and which occur in calendar time no matter what you do.
• People also want to have fun — work and productivity are far from everything.

The main lessons I draw from this are:
• The true opportunity costs of talented young people are higher than they initially appear, maybe much higher.

• When young people can't afford the tools they need to learn most effectively, this is no joke. Rather it's a heartbreaking waste of human capital.

This kind of thing includes: a great laptop, peripherals and desk; ability to commute quickly; a quiet house or room to study in; connection with colleagues to form a study group; a great bed and other things that improve sleep; help with mental and physical health when required; etc. Basically all the stuff that's 'profitable' for 40 year-old professionals who earn a lot and so value every hour of their time.

• Having training systems that allow people to choose to work harder and advance faster are good. At least if they don't eat into valuable informal learning.

• It can be a real waste of society's limited human capital to have high school, undergrad and postgrad students waiting tables to pay the bills, just because they have no collateral with which to borrow against their likely future income." 

Comment by lynettebye on Theory Of Change As A Hypothesis: Choosing A High-Impact Path When You’re Uncertain · 2020-12-01T03:50:00.371Z · LW · GW

Maximization of neglectedness gives different results from those of maximization of impact.

I don't disagree, but my point is that you can't directly maximize impact without already knowing a lot. Other people will usually do the work that's very straightforward to do, so the highest counterfactually valuable work requires specialized knowledge or insights. 

Obviously there are many paths that are low-impact. Since it's hard to know which are valuable before you learn about them, you should make a theory-of-change hypothesis and start testing that best guess. That way you're more likely to get information that causes you to make a better plan if you're on a bad track. 

Comment by lynettebye on Theory Of Change As A Hypothesis: Choosing A High-Impact Path When You’re Uncertain · 2020-11-29T22:29:44.601Z · LW · GW

As I understand it, your objection is that "being the best" means traditional career success (probably high prestige and money), and this isn't a good path for maximizing impact. That makes sense, but I'm not talking about prestige or money (unless you're trying to earn to give). When I say "best," I mean being able to make judgement calls and contributions that the other people working on the issue can't. The knowledge and skills that make you irreplaceable increase your chances of making a difference. 

Comment by lynettebye on Five Ways To Prioritize Better · 2020-07-19T01:16:14.470Z · LW · GW

Honestly, the main thing was to start treating my life as an experiment. Before that, I was just doing what the doctors told me without checking to see if their recommendations actually produced good results. For me, experimenting mainly meant that I 1. tried tracking a bunch of things on my own and analyzing the results, and 2. was willing to try a lot more things, like caffeine pills and antidepressants, because the information value was high. (I first did my research and, when relevant, checked with a doctor, of course.) I think there was a mindset shift somewhere along the way explicitly rejecting that the status quo was innately good. If I was unsatisfied with something, I could try to change it, and I was effective if it got better. After I started experimenting, I prioritized experiments to deal with the bottleneck of fatigue and it was fairly straightforward.

Comment by lynettebye on Five Ways To Prioritize Better · 2020-07-01T17:31:41.369Z · LW · GW

I used a Lights sheet ( ) to track the variables alongside my daily habits, to reduce overhead.

Comment by lynettebye on How to do remote co-working · 2020-05-18T00:04:51.087Z · LW · GW

I also shared the PayPal link out of fairness to Dony, who organizes the group.

Comment by lynettebye on How to do remote co-working · 2020-05-18T00:04:24.692Z · LW · GW

Yes, that link is the first reply.

Comment by lynettebye on How to do remote co-working · 2020-05-17T23:27:57.142Z · LW · GW


Comment by lynettebye on How to do remote co-working · 2020-05-17T23:27:17.089Z · LW · GW

Comment by lynettebye on How to do remote co-working · 2020-05-17T01:21:18.280Z · LW · GW

There's a group for Effective Altruists on Focusmate:

(Dony Christie) "The Basic plan creates the group, and any member who has not subscribed to the Focusmate service for unlimited Focusmate sessions ($5/month) will be able to do 3 free sessions a week with either members of the EA group or the general public. Basic costs $50/month total, which rounds out to $2.50/month per person we currently have interested, and we will get even more people once the group exists and is popularized.

If you wish for unlimited sessions with other EAs (imagine a highly focused 9-5 virtual workweek with a gamut of likeminded people!), then you can upgrade to their plan at your leisure. This looks like the better option to me as the cost of crowdfunding it in order to provide unlimited for everyone seems strictly inferior to people individually getting it themselves, especially as probably not everyone will choose to do more than 3 sessions a week or even continue using the service.

To donate to help cover this, you may or Venmo me @Dony-Christie. Suggested amounts of $2.50/person if you're willing, $5.00/person if you're enthusiastic; send whatever's comfortable for you. If I receive more than the first month's amount then I will put the extra money towards the next month (assuming we continue the subscription to future months; I'll pay it back if not).

Here is the link to join. On the dashboard, under 'My Groups', check the box on the left to toggle between showing sessions for just our group and normal Focusmate. I personally booked a bunch of sessions for next week that I'd love for you to join me at; the times are 12pm, 1pm, 4pm, and 8pm Pacific time/UTC-7 each day this Sunday to Friday. You might not see my name show up because some of the sessions have me booked with normal Focusmate users, but if you book one of those aforementioned times it will switch the booking to me (or any member of the group who's booked at that time). You can also book any other time and other EAs may probably join you by seeing and clicking on your session, or if that fails to happen then you will be booked with a normal Focusmate user unless a member of the group then books that time as well and switches the normal user out.

Let me know if you have any questions, especially if you're new to Focusmate! I will check in with all of you to make sure everything's working, and write a user's guide with best practices. Let's work on big things together!"

Comment by lynettebye on High Variance Productivity Advice · 2020-03-08T18:41:18.572Z · LW · GW

Thanks for noting this. I suspect that many people suffering from fatigue-esque depression symptoms would benefit from Wellbutrin in particular, but I want to be very careful about recommending a particular drug given that I'm not a psychiatrist and I may be missing important caveats.

Comment by lynettebye on High Variance Productivity Advice · 2020-03-08T18:30:43.072Z · LW · GW

This tip was intended for those things were you can really truly never do them. E.g. Since thinking more about this, I stopped folding my pjs, and found I'm just as happy this way as I was folding them perfectly Marie Kondo style.

Comment by lynettebye on Affordable Housing Workarounds · 2019-11-20T15:02:02.190Z · LW · GW

I'd expect that too many people apply for most units for it to be worth that much effort to game. A quick search indicates that 40-500 people might apply for a unit. If it takes someone several years to successfully apply after they are eligible, that doubles the lost earnings. They also can't resell the unit for several decades, so they are locked in for a long time. The option value of moving in the next 40 years seems significant.

Comment by lynettebye on How to Improve Your Sleep · 2019-11-15T23:49:05.867Z · LW · GW

Sounds possible, though most people who snore don't have sleep apnea.

Comment by lynettebye on [Personal Experiment] Counterbalancing Risk-Aversion · 2019-11-15T23:48:03.858Z · LW · GW

I'm curious if you're willing to share the 30 decisions, or at least ones that aren't too personal?

Comment by lynettebye on How to Improve Your Sleep · 2019-11-14T18:25:40.204Z · LW · GW

Sleep apnea is when your airway is blocked so you’re not breathing during your sleep, which results in lower oxygen in your blood and repeatedly waking up to restart breathing. This fragments your sleep and leaves you feeling tired.

For a home test, I think the patient has to set up the equipment themselves, which I expect is more likely to result in bad data. Since doctors treat sleep apnea as a chronic condition, I would be surprised if sleeping in another bed caused it.

Comment by lynettebye on How to Improve Your Sleep · 2019-11-10T23:03:03.973Z · LW · GW

That sounds like what I heard – one doctor told me that home sleep tests were useless but insurance companies try to push people to use them instead of in-lab sleep tests because home tests are way less expensive. From reading elsewhere, it sounds like a home test might work if one has severe sleep apnea.

Comment by lynettebye on How to Improve Your Sleep · 2019-11-10T22:57:17.457Z · LW · GW

The purpose of Stimulus Control Therapy is to avoid implicitly associating the bed with being awake. Just guessing, it seems reasonable that greylag is correct about sexual activity being a concession to practicality. I suspect that most people would resist any advice to switch their sex life to the living room.

Comment by lynettebye on How to Improve Your Sleep · 2019-11-10T22:51:56.472Z · LW · GW

They don’t have RTCs of just sleep timing in everyday settings; that’s not the same as not having evidence. Sleep specialists have a theory of why sleep timing is important, RTCs of sleep hygiene that show a moderate effect on insomnia, and personal experience working with patients. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have research in finer grained detail, but there is evidence supporting the doctor’s recommendations.

Does that mean it will work for you? Not necessarily. Based on the overall performance of sleep hygiene, I would expect at most a modest improvement in sleep quality. It’s your call whether poor sleep negatively impacts your life enough that a modest improvement in expectation is worth leaving parties early for a month. It’s totally fair if the information value isn’t worth that cost to you.

Comment by lynettebye on How to Improve Your Sleep · 2019-10-28T15:13:56.431Z · LW · GW

Good question - I don't think we know as much about that as would be ideal.

In laboratory studies and among shift workers (people working during the night and sleeping during the day), there's a bunch of studies that find negative effects if your sleeping/waking schedule is misaligned with your circadian rhythm (see the sleep timing section here However, I don't know of studies testing just sleep timing in real-world normal populations.

More broadly, sleep hygiene is helpful for insomnia, but much less so than CBT-I (e.g. this meta-analysis However, according to the doctors I spoke with, sleep hygiene is often used as a first-line treatment because people can easily test it at home, and they should get results within a month of consistent use if sleep hygiene will help. It sounds like most people who have insomnia have already taken care of basic sleep hygiene, though both of the sleep specialists I interviewed (Dr. Bertisch and Dr. Barger) emphasized consistent sleep schedules as one of the most important sleep hygiene tips people commonly miss.

However, that doesn't address the specific details of what counts as consistent times. For people with insomnia, Stimulus Control Therapy indicates you shouldn't go to bed until you feel sleepy but should wake up at the same time. So if that's you, I expect setting a consistent alarm time regardless of when you went to bed might be good.

Comment by lynettebye on How Much is Your Time Worth? · 2019-09-11T01:11:45.236Z · LW · GW

I interpreted it as overall average productivity drop, which makes sense since I wouldn't expect most people to report productivity losses at the lower end of this scale (75°F). Rereading it, my interpretation still seems more likely, but it's not totally clear which one the authors meant.

Comment by lynettebye on How Much is Your Time Worth? · 2019-09-10T02:12:38.591Z · LW · GW

Good points - these heuristics are much better than nothing, but probably shouldn't be taken at face value without some additional thought.

Comment by lynettebye on How Much is Your Time Worth? · 2019-09-10T02:08:09.692Z · LW · GW

I agree that the time cost of shopping can eat at the calculation. Looking at Wirecutter and Amazon top reviews for ACs can help make a quicker decision for many such purchases.

Comment by lynettebye on How Much is Your Time Worth? · 2019-09-10T02:02:08.596Z · LW · GW

If you dig deeper into the first link, you'll find these numbers which indicate that the productivity loss increases as a function of the temperature increase: "In addition to the prevalence of productivity loss, seven studies reported precise changes in productivity as a function of environmental heat stress. These studies suggest an average 2.6% productivity decline (individual study estimates: 0.8%, 1.4%, 1.8%, 2.2%, 2.8%, 4.4%, 5.0%) for every degree increase beyond 24°C WBGT.”

Still, I'm all for running an experiment to check how much your personal productivity responds to temperature! Individual variance might be high here.