Week 2

This one was a doozy.


last week’s methods:

  • Apply the problem-solution/effective-ineffective/interruptions/thoughts (how about we call it: Real Time Task Notes?) framework/method thing
  • close all non-focus windows
  • no music
  • write up days tasks properly
  • keep skype/IRC closed

The effects:

  • I didn’t actually apply these very well. Skype/IRC stayed open for the most part, although I did end up doing a few pomodoros.
  • Real Time Task Notes were very useful in identifying additional issues and problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Honestly, more issues were identified that I can possibly list properly so I’ll just copy-dump the whole thing below
  • Massively ineffective productivity – especially school stuff
  • Failure to apply usual methods

Methods to apply this week:

  • Do not immediately go on skype/IRC/videos – write these down to do during pomodoros
  • Daily method
  • Buckle Down
  • Pomodoros
  • >7.5 hrs sleep every night
  • No naps
  • steep-time metric
  • Use Rescue Time to measure time spent on programs
  • No neurontin
  • RTTN again


Getting 1000 words in via Rping

Math assignment:

  • If there is a single shot question, study it properly until you are out of time. Truly understand it rather than guessing.
  • Khan academy helps a lot


  • Entering flow state
    • Writing down equations and taking verbal cues when they were walked in front of
    • Anticipated where the equations would lead and wrote ahead
    • Asked “What is she actually doing right now” to get the big picture
    • I believe I entered flow because I recognized it was difficult
    • I had to actually work or risk falling behind
    • The need to get an A and master the material
    • Idea of ‘fix errors before they become bugs’
    • Drank lot of soylent before that
    • Lasted three hours
    • Haven’t been able to replicated properly
    • Left me burnt out rest of the day
  • In this state was when I lost my pencil pouch…
  • I wrote that there seems to be a bubbling/flowering function, and a selection function. That the flow state seems to bring the bubbling function into full focus and selection function into full control. Discrete objects are made much more present.
  • I remember being able to take note of everyone in the street at once, and their conversations, although I had to actually choose which one to listen to kind of
  • During Math this let me focus down each part of the thing being said, and actually capture its meaning and apply it elsewhere.

Magnesium Citrate – fixed bowel problems entirely

Xnote stopwatch is a decent timer program


  • provides very good discussion about topics that are relevant to me
  • If I ask a question I can get a pretty thorough answer immediately most of the time
  • Immediate external brain power for arbitrary things
  • If there is an interesting discussion going on I want to capture I can set a timer to go off every 30 minutes and then copypaste it (or just mark it down and look through logs later)


  • During CS
  • Before Class Starts for Statics
  • Pony expressions based around a theme (such as, tongue out)


  • Work very well to begin focusing
  • Will often interrupt flow and focusing once I get into the swing of things.
  • 2 Pomos seems ideal?


  • Powerwalk out of math + front door is 5 min faster to get to CS

ENGR recitation:

  • As a group we blazed through the recitation assignment, taking a mere hour or so to do it when I know it would have taken at least three on my own even though I know everything.


  • Very very good for pomodoro breaks
  • Gets 1000 words for writing out of the way easily

Buckle Down

  • Effective for 1000 words habit
  • Choose task
  • Remove all inputs other than task
    • Close laptop and second monitor
    • Full screen
    • Close skype
    • Possibly close all tabs and non-focus windows (or just make new workspace?)
    • One screen per important active window
  • If taking breaks, set a 30 minute timer, and a 10 minute timer for breaks

Real Time Task Notes

  • Writing good and bad things as they happen, and recording my solutions or attempts for future reference
  • Three categories to write under: Effective/Inffective/Thoughts
  • Making and copying a template each day rather than posting
  • The structure ‘taking action has or hasn’t particular effect’ produces clear thoughts and a chain of causality, and removes arbitrary things
  • Weekly Summary
    • Condensing everything to bulletpoints & general topics
    • Should do this for both effective&ineffective, then combine both into a giant topic sorted list

Paper system

  • Notecards are a lot more processable- I have to deal with each piece of paper
  • Always put new papers in front to maintain chronologalness
  • Drawing pony expressions

Math textbook productivity:

  • Buckle down
  • Book on main screen
  • One note on tablet
    • Equations on left
    • Explanations and important facts on the right
  • Pomodoros
  • Working out example problems

School hour break

  • Can do reading/hw on library computers

Trying a lot of different things

  • Even just changing my system or strategy allows me to look at the tasks afresh and get stuff done.

General productivity strategy:

  • Write down fun thoughts
  • Daily Method
  • Buckle Down
  • Just having a ‘be productive’ mode to enter seems to be the vast majority of utility here. The specifics of the system may be largely irrelevant so long as everything is in front of you. Doing or not doing the tasks is what eats up so much time and energy.


  • Writing up real time task notes each day, and combining them. This eliminates a lot of the noise.
  • Big rocks
    • Pull from calendar
    • Update projects
    • Pull from stones
    • Update master todo tasks by steepness and dueness
    • Move big rocks into master todo with red/orange dueness


  • Assigning 3 most important tasks seems more effective than random lists


  • Feel a lot more rested and capable after two full nights of sleep


One glass of soylent lasts barely four hours

Trying to push past useful hours- there is

Literally no point or produtcivity gained

Paper system

  • Very quickly run out of notecard space
  • Taking paper-notecard out of binder out of bag is slow and annoying and hard
  • Winco notecards are just paper, barely cardstock
  • Very hard to read
  • Notes taken nearly entirely worthless

Summary of Day

  • Pointless- upon review no value is gained.
  • From this I generalize: do not write without a return on investment, unless the act of writing is itself the return.
  • Many of the metrics I used including Energy, Happiness, Tasks Set, Tasks Done, ‘did daily method.’
  • I am not correlating my methods to my metrics very well- there are no crisp defined strategies laid out for each week. I think this may be to be expected initially.
  • Writing things that happened well/poorly without providing method/reason they did
  • Have been posting text blocks- needs to be short and concise. No one is going to read through piles of text
  • To be useful it needs to be simple straight forward and clear.


  • Unless you are specifically trying to improve something there is no reason to measure it
  • Should eliminate all other than directly relevant metrics
  • Re-write getting started?


  • Having so many screens up at once  is bad
  • Even just the light being there makes it harder
  • Half-rping half-chatting seriously negatively impacts productive work


  • Trying to be productive after midnight even after twelve hours sleep that day
  • Even while properly rested, I seem to lose serious focusing ability at 10pm
  • Unable to do more than one school assignment a day?
  • Utterly completely failing to apply Do method. Far too often I’m trying to multitask or have my tasks interrupted. I don’t sit down and say ‘I will do this task for at least X minutes’ or anything of the sort
  • Doing fun stuff first rather than writing them down
  • Not doing daily metrics
  • Failure to assign tasks in the first place
  • Many tasks I’ll start on, and then get distracted, forget what I was doing and return exactly to the task and end up in a loop. Not sure how to deal with these.
  • Failed to assign appropriate most important tasks, and school tasks tend to turn it into ‘one most important task which won’t actually get done’
  • Sleep loss increase total time available to be productive, but reduces speed and effectiveness.
  • Playing games does not recover steep-work time
  • Tiredness massively reduces steep-work time
  • Not applying systems means work doesn’t get done.
    • Should write out distractions in morning if I want to look at them later that day & do pomodoros to get bits and pieces of them


  • Napping means I’ll fall asleep later, thereby pushing me past midnight, which is bad.
  • Napping inconsistently doesn’t seem to mitigate effects of tiredness
  • Less than 8.5 hours sleep is the cause of productivity loss
  • Staying up past midnight ever
    • Just don’t do it


  • Pizza doesn’t count as food anymore
  • Buying sweets at store- utterly fails to make me happy every time


  • I need to ask permission for things I know I should ask permission for. It’s a truly horrible thing, I know.

Real Time Task Notes

  • I’m not entirely sure why, but my RTTNs were low in data the past few days,
  • I wasn’t collecting much metric data.
  • Seem to run out of time at midnight
  • Reading previous task notes is slow and annoying- too much noise
  • Writing up weekly notes seems to take far more time than I’d like
  • Trying to condense these at the end of the week/day is too slow and misses the point
  • There are too many of these after a week to deal with properly


  • Forgetting to set a timer to end break

Trying to locate lost item via brute force.

  • Should have thought about route
  • Should have contacted locations via phone

Having IRC and skype open at all

  • Just opening it utterly derails my thought process

Do Habit:

  • Easily distracted
  • Not choosing a task in the first place
  • Not choosing to focus & remove distraction possibilities
  • Write down any interruptions

Daily Method:

  • Habit portion utterly fails
    • should treat this like any other thing, perhaps?
    • Perhaps move habit stuff to the weekly method

Thinking Sessions

  • Basically totally forgot about these


  • Barely touched at all


  • Spent 8 hours- nearly all my productive day, but I watched youtube videos and IRC’d before actually getting started on my day.
  • Do not do problems on tablet. Most of them were wrong, and then I had to redo all of them anyway to write them on paper. Just write them up properly the first time.
  • Difficulty of doing homework wasn’t based in difficulty, but in my structure of approach- IRC and Skype utterly devastate this.
  • Took very few breaks, but I had distractinbg things up. Doesn’t really count. Should pomodoro next time.

Changing my system rather than applying it

  • Very bad. Should ignore the impulse and write down my reasoning.

Closing tabs itself becomes a distraction

  • Copy-dump or make a new tab and ignore
  • Do just enough to be able to focus on the task.

Music while studying/working

  • Do not watch videos
  • Listen to familiar stuff
  • No lyrics
  • No attached videos
  • Possibly don’t listen
  • Ignore the want-to-feel-good-pony-is-good idea.
  • Instrumental/foreign vocals only

Writing notes during task

  • Ask if it is actually important enough to write down or not
  • Immediately write it up and immediately return to task
  • This does actually seem to improve big picture thinking

Stomach/Throat pain

  • No neurontin
  • Don’t drink soda
  • Don’t eat ice cream

Math reading

  • Even when I have no further distractions I’ll get distracted by my own mind



  • Extract suggested changes
  • Combine into one giant list?
  • Make blogpost
  • Update method
  • RTTN blank
  • Wikidata entry with third party tool instead. Manual entry is abysmal.
  • Have indepth conversations with: Act, Madplatypus, Olivia, Logos01… everyone else in #lesswrong is interesting too! Doing group chat is fun, but talking to people one on one builds more interesting interactions often
  • Things to try week after next?
  • Methods -> topics
  • Master list of method effects

RTTN Weekly

  • Method applied this week
  • Effects of those methods
  • Method to try next week

Next week:

  • Daily method
  • Buckle Down
  • Pomodoros
  • >7.5 hrs sleep
  • No naps
  • Measure steep-time
  • Using Rescue time to measure time spent on programs
  • No neurontin

I should use a small piece of paper beside my work to focus on the explicit task at hand- perhaps a phone application with notes pushed from computer?

Most of the issues from this week revolve around executive functions. I’ll copy what worked well rather than targeting the ineffective things.

90% of the issues could be solved by

  • Sleeping for at least 8 hours
  • Buckling down
  • Doing daily method
  • Avoiding IRC/skype/video watching first thing
  • Writing down distractions every time and only visiting those when tasks are over/on pomodoro breaks

Effective instrumentality is specifically targeting things you want to change

Renamed high-work to steep work, mid->mild, low-> flat. This better fits my mental model of difficulty.


  • Root cause of throat/stomach pain
  • May or may not still be needed to avoid knee pain

What is the ideal amount of sleep?

I need some kind of a system for tests. I’ll look at the things I’ve thought of before, try it, see the effect. This seems to happen mostly in real time, or I’ll want to try something and then just not.

Quality of results seems identical to value for methods and is just as wishy washy unhelpful

“There is no sense in trying to fix problems in broken systems. Find something that works, then keep doing that while making small changes. Do the version that yields the best results. So if your system is breaking down, drop it and make something simpler.” …alternatively, revert to the system that did mostly what you wanted and try to modify that again.

What techniques do corporations use

To improve their members?

Study management

Methods have major issues:

  • Lack of clarity where/when to apply
    • Link them on the relevant pages
  • Instructions are bad
  • Clarity of use
  • Value of use


  • Do people with it know the actual color of the thing they’re looking at?
  • Is it monochromatic or does it vary with the shading?
  • What if you slowly change the shape, does it keep or change color?

Need to make a method for real time task notes & buckling down

Real Time Task Notes

  • One column for Effective, Ineffective, Thoughts, Interruptions
    • Effective – things that worked well
    • Ineffective – things that worked poorly
    • Thoughts – random bits and pieces
    • Interruptions – anything that would make you change tasks
  • Write down things as they come up in each
  • This will allow you to get real data on what did/didn’t work and why
  • Trusting your memory after the fact is bad
  • Weekly summary: collect the notes and post them

Could I use hypnosis to enter flow?

How to write like SSC – is there a post already on this?

Things to try:

spend X minutes on each task and cycle through each until done

Measure total steep-work time

Do method properly:

  • Turn off all screens but main screen
  • Turn off skype
  • Refuse to look at IRC or web
  • If you need internet, make a new tab and only work from there.

Thinking sessions after each task

Do pomodoro properly

Apply habit support structure to own habits

Whenever you fail a habit, mark it down. Add these up at the end of the day and use that as a daily metric- see which methods produce the results you want

Each pomo with clear subgoal/tasks?

Pomo with thinking session at end rather than RTTN

Daily method sorted by brain capability

Set steep, mild, and flat work for each day and slowly move downward as attention wanes


  • School stuff
  • Projects



  • Sequence posts
  • Weekly


  • Video watching
  • Resource extraction


  • Don’t even bother just…rest.
  • If you reeaaally want to do something, make it mindless and visually straight forward
  • Room cleaning
  • Nap?

Focus on expanding steep-work hours/productivity with metrics

  • Class-hours versus steep-work?
  • Sleep hours versus steep-work?
  • Number/length of breaks? (make sure to subtract break minutes)
  • Flow-concentration intensity? (need to be able to replicate this)
  • Nap-hours & num naps versus steep-work

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