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Comment by optimal on [Requesting advice] Problems with optimizing my life as a high school student · 2014-04-15T13:21:22.341Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hey, thanks for your comment; it's provided me with some very helpful insights. I'll now be responding to each of your points in turn.

  • I appreciate the optimism. Often I feel proud of myself when looking back over the past year, but I can never stop stressing over current issues. I still predict that, even if I never further optimize my habits, I will indeed be in a good position in a few years.

  • As I said in the discussion, I've tried a lot of things; the things that worked are my current habits. I've had a sort of exercise regime from the beginning (early on, I was mostly dedicated to improving my health) that has evolved over time. Based on the article you linked, it could certainly use some optimizations, however; I'll be changing some things around.

  • I've never tried using a 'point system' or productivity rubric before; those seem like good ideas. I definitely need to make myself (in the short-term) want to accomplish things rather than log hours. I'm thinking I'll create some kind of productivity log that I can also use to summarize what I just read/worked on.

  • That book you just mentioned is so extremely relevant I wonder how I have missed it. I'd like to thank you for including it. Anyway, I'll also look into experimenting with different structured break activities aside from leisure computer use/reading, like another form of meditation. If I can successfully implement some of the studying tactics I'm talking about, I think I'll be able to more easily partake in fun time.

  • Indeed one of my medium-term goals is to pass AP exams; I will only be focusing on the most relevant ones, however. I haven't tried formally analyzing topics to see if I should study them or when; that seems like another good idea. I'm planning on studying all the topics presented in the MIRI recommended course list, but I will most likely major in CS. I've already sent an email to Cognito Mentoring, actually; I'm optimistic about their potential to help guide my self- education.

  • I agree with you here. Most of my game programming skill came from working on my own projects. My reply to another comment in this thread is very relevant. I'm going to take some MOOCs (not just the ones in the MIRI course list), but I'm unsure of how I should fit them into my longer-term study plan. I'm also interested in experimenting with studying lecture notes. A lot of the courses/lectures available are probably above my level, though, so I might have a hard time finding some that I can use.

I didn't mention it in the discussion, but most likely I won't attempt to transfer to Stanford OHS. It's too much of a rush/gamble, I want to keep my total control over my education, and I believe that I will (eventually) become an acceptably efficient autodidact.

Comment by optimal on [Requesting advice] Problems with optimizing my life as a high school student · 2014-04-15T11:26:42.280Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I often had to force myself to do/learn game programming, but it still could be very enjoyable and motivating.

it became something that was both productive (relatively, because it taught me general programming skills) and fun (enough that I could do it all day for several days straight, driven by excitement rather than willpower)

This is a near-perfect description of it. Around 5-7 months in I was skilled enough to start working on more difficult projects. I often became completely obsessed with what I was working on, trying desperately to maximize my time spent working on it. This ranged from being super exciting to painfully disruptive. It allowed me to get things done, but often made it hard to continue studying after I finished the project.

As for including AI in games, that's something important that I have considered. I won't be giving up game development completely, partially for that reason. There are books like 'Programming Game AI by Example' that could greatly increase my programming skill and knowledge of AI-related topics. Also, having a portfolio of completed game projects, especially ones with AI in them, would be highly favored by colleges.

I linked the recommended MIRI courses page in my discussion; you must have missed it (that's okay, it was in the most boring part.) I have already considered that several other topics, aside from programming, are essential to know about when dealing with the creation of AI. So I already plan to learn functional programming; I will begin dedicated study of it within a year, whenever it will fit into my short-term studying plans.

Comment by optimal on [Requesting advice] Problems with optimizing my life as a high school student · 2014-04-15T11:04:52.653Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I take Taekwondo class and will have a black belt before I enter college, does that count? There are other methods of meeting/working with people that I have looked into, but I can't seem to find one that I can get engaged in. There aren't are local LW meetups, but there are a few that would be practically accessible; I will be considering them as well.

Comment by optimal on [Requesting advice] Problems with optimizing my life as a high school student · 2014-04-14T14:57:44.377Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Funny story: I actually did try tracking daily 'social interaction time' for a while. It's much harder to track than anything else, because it is such a fluid and unpredictable activity, and I don't have access to my spreadsheets while socializing.

I've had moderate social anxiety for many years, starting because of issues (mostly inside my head) in early public school. It was severely exacerbated when I switched to online school because I spent so much time, locked in my room, on pleasurable activities.

I have a small group of friends who I met in public school; we still meet once every couple of months to play video/board games. This results only in casual interaction centered around the game, never anything serious that involves personal issues or philosophical debates. And of course, the entire time, I am thinking that I could be doing something more productive or fun-efficient. Those friends are not exactly positive influences: they spend a lot of their time on video games (CoD etc.), and they are constantly laughing at internet memes or terrible sex jokes. I've tried meeting other people online, but I never really can get engaged with them, also because I feel that I am using time inefficiently. So, in the social interaction department, I am not really making any progress. That could be considered another big problem in my life; I probably should have included it in the main article.

Comment by optimal on Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013) · 2014-04-13T21:52:54.758Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Nice to meet you, person with above-average intelligence. My name is Optimal, because I am always seeking optimal outcomes. I'm 16 years old and currently enrolled in an online high school that provides me with an exceptional degree of educational freedom. I've been lurking around here for a few weeks, but I just now decided to join in because I could use some serious life advice.

Based on the contents of the article above, and on other discussions I have observed, I think it would be better to explain and discuss my situation in a discussion. Actually, I've already written the discussion article; I'm commenting here to get 2 karma points so I can submit it. My article looks something like this one. Please don't hate me, I promise that my submission will be found mildly interesting by at least one person.