Week 4

Was sick last week, so it kind of messed things up.



  • I used to think I always needed ten hours of sleep. As it turns out, as long as I don’t get less than eight for most days I am perfectly fine.

One Note

  • Using multiple computers on the same page leads to issues.


  • Many of my posts end up reading like complaints. All of these should be in the form:

“Tried Y expecting X, Z happened.”

  • Many things are obviously in the wrong column

Tried posting my weekly summary to #lw-instrumental

  • Seemed valuable to them.
  • Increased social pressure to make future updates better and clearer.


Tried setting up alarm for starting Buckling Down upon reaching home

  • eliminated the skype/IRC issue because it allowed me to check them without getting sucked in.
  • Discouraged starting anything big because I know I only have a half-hour to work with.
  • My weekends

Buckling Down with pomodoros

Tried minimizing windows and turning off unused monitors, working and focusing for 30 minutes at a time broken up with 10 minute breaks

  • Was sick for a lot of this, but…
  • Sems to solve RPing skype problem
  • gives me the ability to goof off with media without worrying
  • Keeps me on task
  • provides a clear signal for ‘work’ and ‘non-work’
  • Seems to have made me forget all about my one note daily
  • Starting this also shifted me away from most important tasks of the day

Drawing/1000 words

  • These two have fallen by the wayside because I’ve not been doing my one note daily method.


I tried letting the container sit out in my room and ferment rather than cleaning the pitcher.

  • This was a terrible, horrible mistake,
  • Even after four washes it still smells like… well, death.


tried drawing during CS

  • Seems to be a wonderful way to get drawing out of the way
  • …but it just goes to show how useless that class is that I don’t even need to pay attention

Tried putting class files on dropox

  • Dramatically reduced my worry about losing assignments or the like. I can access them from anywhere


Tried to do the impossible

  • I had three math assignments to do- each of these would normally take me a whole afternoon. (Pathetic, right?)
  • I set those three assignments up as literally the only thing I’d do the next day and precommitted (with… no penalty other than the innate major one of not finishing the assignments where this is a class I want an A in)
  • Using a combination of the math learning center tutors and eventually locating a friend who had all of the answers, I managed to get it done
  • I was… really rather loopy by the end of it. Pushing myself hard and forcing myself to continue doing math when my brain had utterly given up (despite it being… really quite straight forward with my friend) was taking a massive toll on my cognition.’
  • I had also the idea of compiling a library of examples and making generic solutions for each type, but I didn’t end up doing that.
  • Oddly, the day after doing the impossible I still felt focused and effective rather than brain dead.
  • Totally vanquished Akrasia/entered generic flow state in math with the following:
    • recognizing there was no other choice but to drop my regular pattern and win
    • limiting my day and focusing down literally just that one thing
    • dedicating my entire brain and all my resources toward making it happen (fortunately, only a mere $50 was lost)
    • putting myself in a situation where that was the only task to do
    • It also helped that I decided to start thinking of myself as an AI with the utility function of ‘complete this work’ and based every single decision that day around ‘does this help me complete the work’

Tried using wolfram alpha to solve differential equation problems

  • 30-40% success rate! Not only that, but it has step by step instructions if you get pro (I did because desperation)
  • Allowed me to figure out what I was doing wrong

Went to math learning center to see if the tutors could help

  • Massive success! It is basically the go to way to get useful hints and generic solutions to arbitrary problems that actually help you understand what is happening.
  • I’d say I learned the material from them 3-4x as effectively, and a heck of a lot faster than on my own or from class.
  • I’d generalize this by saying other people physically being there who have the skill already are much better at teaching a skill than trying to figure it out from a book or on one’s own.

Tried using a friend with all of the answers to help me out

  • While I did get the answers, by that time I’d been thoroughly exhausted so I didn’t actually learn much from the encounter… bad mojo, methinks.


  • Trying to do math on my tablet leads to the wrong answers, and then I simply redo them anyway when writing on paper.
  • HW seems to take about 4 hours


  • Phone snoozing for alternating 10/30 minute alarms is simple and easy to work with
  • I really, really hate the structure of the alarm system, the sound of my ringtone, and the awkwardness of setting up a 30 or 10 minute nap using fingers rather than a mouse. I hate it even more because it works so well.


  • Found myself sick for a week and a half
  • Going to bed 90 minutes earlier than usual massively improves overall feeling. Definitely worth the risk of increasing difficulty of falling asleep.
  • Although it was quite difficult to pay attention, focus, and remember… I still found myself quite productive at times because I had a good system in place.


Tried reading

  • The main problem here is each post tends to take more than 10 minutes, or you end up stopping at a weird point
  • seems mostly

Tried gaming expecting to recover ability to do more work

  • Does not appear to have that effect
  • ironclad tactics seems like a decent way to spend 10 minutes

Tried RPing

  • Seems to be perfect way to spend the whole length of time
  • …but it means the other person has to wait a half-hour between posts rather than a mere ten minutes


  • Cookies from Winco… are very satisfying of the urge to snack
  • Sticking treats behind monitors means I don’t eat them all up so quickly


  • Tried using hard tip rather than super duper light
  • Much clearer on my desktop
  • less smooth
  • seems to encourage more creative results with many drawings
  • compared to the ultra light which gives very clean results for a single drawing, but is much harder to see on my desktop

Rescue Time

  • Tried running rescue time in the background and took the number of productive minutes as a metric at the end of each day
  • Primary function seems to be for detecting bad time use
  • Made clear how much of a problem each was
  • Gave me a very clear idea of how I’d actually spent the day
  • Broke down very clearly into how much time each day I spend on productive things
  • seems to correlate to subjective productivity pretty nicely
  • One major flaw is that it cannot track time spent on non-computer things.

No Neurontin

Tried to go two weeks with none of the anti-knee-pain drug in my system

  • pain in my knees is negligible
  • no more throat/stomach pain
  • hypothesis: it takes 4-5 days for an increase in exercise to produce pain.


  • My mind was able to do some very odd things while sick. Like being able to feel the location of thought generators in my head, and peel them off. If I tried to touch anything vital or actually useful I got a negative sensation. It was really strange.
  • My creativity seemed to increase a lot


  • Tried letting myself stay awake past midnight
  • Fucked over everything I know and love
  • Tried going to bed at midnight when used to sleeping at one AM
  • Stayed away for 1-2 hours trying desperately to fall asleep
  • Tried getting 10 hours of sleep three days in a row
  • shortened my day overall, and only perpetuated the cycle of staying up late, having difficulty staying asleep, and then sleeping in,
  • I conclude from this I should never stay awake past midnight, and if I am already in such a cycle I should go to bed later than midnight, then wake up at 8-10am


Non-linear conversation method:

Take a chatlog, copy-paste the points you’re responding to into google docs. Respond to each point, and highlight your additions so they don’t get lost in the familiar looking text. Ask them to respond.

  • This worked really, really well. At least, for my purpose of finding all of the points and sending them out. I haven’t gotten any back and forth going yet.
  • would make for a hard conversation to follow for anyone else
  • would keep track of every thread of the conversation without allowing any point to perish that both people cared enough to continue on.
  • Can go point by point down everything someone else has said
  • This may be sufficient for all of my desires of a non-linear conversation

Things to try later:

All RTTN should be in the form:

“Tried X expecting Y, Z happened.”

Multiple desktops- one for productivity focus, one for break focus.

win ~ command more

computer based alarm

thinking sessions

Study idea: Because you want to study as close to the real test as possible, take old tests and try taking them. This will show you where your faults lie and where to study (I know I read this somewhere, but I’ve never actually done it… seems like 90% of the ‘studying’ I should have done but didn’t.)

I should go through Fun With a Pencil, taking each thing presented and toying with it as much as possible before moving on. This seems to me to be the proper way to learn something- actually doing it. Getting through a book is itself a worthless task. There will always be more books.

Use steep-time idea more properly

track percentage of Rescue Time productive/non-productive rather than hours spent on productive perhaps? Why? What value does that really serve?

Alarms on the weekends- never sleep in later than 10 am! Always sleep at midnight.

Ought to experiment with the amount of soylent I drink and my relative productivity levels- it is unfortunate, but I hadn’t kept track of that earlier. Really should have.

number of pomodoros as a metric

lengths of pomo break/work times as a metric

Generic math homework algorithm:

1 hour reading each major section

2 hours maximum trying the homework on my own

go to math learning center, get hints, spend another 1 hours trying homework before asking for more hints.

post productivity:

  • spend reading easy learning stuff
  • drawing/writing/creative?
  • Personal projects
  • media should do’s
  • internet sites
    • imgur
    • reddit
  • endless amounts of stuff on hard drive


I had also the idea of compiling a library of examples and making generic solutions for each type, but I didn’t end up doing that.

do a whole bunch of book homework (5 min on each problem, no more), mark specifically what you don’t understand, and then take the ones you don’t understand to the math tutors for improved learning

look through solution manual for explainations
New policy/metric k

Knobs / day

Absolutely refuse to stop doing work until pomo is done – write in distractions

(unsure how to deal with RTTN- maybe write stuff up after the fact unless it is really short? Write note in interruptions to expand fully? Transaction costs there.)

Zentodone habits again

New metric: +- hours after midnight gone to bed

Pomodoros until 7pm, “things I should do” or projects until midnight

weekends ought be made useful

should have some program that disables high intensity programs if I don’t have them in focus for long enough. That oughta be kinder on my hardware. Especially on my tablet’s battery life


How often do I get sick? I ought measure this.

Steep-time idea fell by the wayside as I didn’t actually use my todo properly this week

What did people use before tissues? Were their noses just disgusting for their whole lives?

My notes in class are simply awful. Bitterly terribly useless. I ought look at someone with much better note taking and ask them how they do it.

I’m wondering if I will need to do a better job communicating how to

Do the Daily Method, or it is clear enough. Will people actually

Use it? Perhaps I could record myself using it to show them how to

Achieve the same results I do? If my results are worth attaining at all?

Failure to precommit to doing things seems to be my major failure on the weekends. I just kind of let myself crumple and do nothing. I’m not sure if this is a habit, or my brain telling me that it needs a break.

I wonder if I’d gotten better faster if I’d been on an all Soylent diet. Probably given most of what I eat has basically no vitamins or anything.

Doing the impossible brought home a few things for me. Instrumental rationality is all about specifics.

Goal, exploration of the solution space, subgoals, actions and the expected value of each, improving capability to perform each action.

There is some point in the day (usually ~7-9pm) that I just can’t do any more work. I’m unsure how to use that time productively. I can do things like reading the Sequences, so maybe reading easy science stuff or whatever would be a good way to do that. Haven’t been doing many projects since school started, so I don’t have data there.

This Week’s Methods:

  • 30 min alarm upon getting home or waking up for buckling down
  • one note daily method again
  • RTTN form “Tried X expecting Y, Z happened”
  • Always go to bed at midnight
  • +- diff from midnight bedtime metric
  • multiple desktops: one for work, one for break
  • computer based pomo alarm
  • weekend alarms – never sleep in past 10am
  • write distractions in interruptions
  • Buckle Down with Pomodoros and RTTN
  • no naps
  • one note daily method 
  • no neurontin

Generic math homework algorithm:

  • 1 hour reading each major section
  • 2 hours maximum trying the homework on my own
  • go to math learning center to get hints
  • spend another hour trying homework before asking for more hints.


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