Fortnightly 11



This fortnight I failed to achieve my methods. Things went really, really downhill. This partially due to being sleep deprived in the middle, but except for a brief moment in the middle, I’ve been feeling simply awful. I’ve found all of my tasks becoming exponentially more difficult. Even just sitting down and studying is hard.

I had largely solved my attention issue the previous week, so I figured it would become even easier to do more work. It became much, much harder. As if by pushing past my attention issue I uncovered a deeper horror. Probably the reason why I’ve developed such an attention issue in the first place. As a safety mechanism from it. Attention was the first major mental resource I’ve uncovered, and now the second I’ll call by its absense: burnout. (I don’t have a word for it, so but luminosity springs to mind- it’d be great were it not already used elsewhere.)


My systems are designed with myself not-being-burnt-out in mind, so once I hit that state they stop being effective. I know this because using hypnosis, I made myself feel really good and relaxed. For about fourty eight hours afterward I was able to operate how I am supposed to. I found my system just works. Further shuffling around of it is just me trying to be meta-productive instead of productive. This is the same failure mode most self-help people seem to fall into. The tools are fine how they are. It is you who isn’t using them correctly. Basically any system will work. Just spend significantly more time using it than managing it.


‘relax’ command at the start of breaks really is incredible- I stop fidgeting and start daydreaming almost immediately. I fixed my attention problems entirely with this. (At least, until it redoubles after the two-day glow wears off. I only tried it for the two days.)


I was so full of energy and felt like doing much. Explored and investigated and made connections between things I hadn’t noticed after months.


It is very strange how much I could feel the shift in my mentality. Things that previously were avoided or non-options have been opened up. Places I would expect myself to deflect and do nothing suddenly have a ‘nope- gonna do work’ feeling instead. I find myself acting towards my betterment automatically. Simply put it seems to have caused a ceasing of self-destructive behavior. Like a floodgate of whatever resources I had been hording previously. The difference between scarcity and abundance is as night and day.


Had a particularly productive two days. I got lots of stuff done felt so good while doing it. Burnout correlates incredibly heavily with shit done. Definitely felt more alive and happy for its nameless negation. Much more excited to talk to random people and do everything- like my weight had been lifted. It kind of felt like the hypnosis never really turned off for that entire time? I always feel a weird feeling in my scalp whenever it is going.


On Friday I mostly just felt tired. Not in the same way as burnout. Just, utterly exhausted. At least during burnout I feel like I am physically capable of continuing. This seemed like a level beyond, yet neutral rather than bad.

Now I feel atrocious. Simply, awful. I’m barely getting anything done and even keeping focus on doing my daily is hardly working. This is how I’ve felt all weekend compared to being magical and alive on Wednesday and Thursday. I didn’t try it again because I wanted to see how long the fallout lasted, and it hits hard. Is that nocebo? Maybe?



The really strange thing is how it just completely went away with a little hypnosis. The difference between how I felt then and now feels like the difference between my expectations of myself and the daily reality. That, if I could eliminate this issue I would become the person I ought be. What pressure forces me down when I should be soaring?


Not too long after, I experienced rather high levels of anxiety. A great deal more than usual. Anxiety hadn’t even been on my radar of issues until the past year or so. Has it been with me this entire time as a silent phantom? If I eliminate it will burnout go away? Will my capacity to do work improve dramatically? It definitely felt in opposition to the effects of the hypnosis. Maybe all of this is caused by simple stress.


One thing I’m noticing in retrospect is that my nature breaks were far fewer (replaced often by browsing internet things or RPing) and had basically no daydreams in them. That is a serious confounder here given how much nature breaks help out. It wasn’t that they were non-existant, but they were not applied in the same ways and amounts. I will keep that in mind for the following week.


Now that I’m thinking back, this has been a recurrant issue throughout my life. Always caused by school. I’ve never quite seen it in this clarity before. I know it goes away during breaks, and that it was the primary reason I spent my childhood playing videogames instead of anything else. It is the difference between actively exploring my world and desperately clawing for a scrap of awareness.


Gonna go read up on how to fix/prevent it later, but for now I’ll leave my thoughts and impressions so that they’re pure and unaffected by my reading.



  • Improved by
    • Sleep
    • Time
  • Seems caused/worsened by
    • doing homework/studying difficult things/hard work
      • extended studying past what I feel I can do
    • learning/interpreting-integrating other people’s information
      • Updating my models of the world for the inside seems fine
      • suggests I should learn things slowly and consistently
      • unsure if it affects how much I learn, just increases the difficulty of getting myself to do so.
    • doing too much on one day
      • If I push past my soft limit of psychological pressure, the ceiling for both the soft and hard limit lower.
    • stress
      • exercise (After doing anything major I seem to use don’t do any regularly, so any worsens it)
      • worrying worrying worrying (I don’t do this with any frequency)
    • eating junkfood
    • seems chemical in nature (my mental state/opinions don’t seem to affect much beyond the soft limit)
      • maybe there is an imbalance or something? Should go to doctor perhaps and see what’s up
      • Might just be homeostasis- I push it hard, so it pushes back.
    • It lingers
    • affects attention span and memory
    • School perhaps occupies too much of my time and focus, so maybe this is the brain getting bored to death and rebelling
  • It isn’t fixed by not doing work
    • at least, it doesn’t rebound as much as it dropped
      • stay under the soft limit
    • Uncertain if doing minor amounts of work makes it worse or not
      • seems to get worse/better randomly
    • Videogames/reading seem to leave me just as poorly off as I was before, but that may be due to guilt or the fact that I choose challenging games and heavy books
  • Measured by
    • pomos done
    • rescuetime productive minutes
    • pomos set/done
    • A problem with the above metrics is there is no way to easily       distinguish difficulties of tasks.
      • Therefore it is assumed most pomos and minutes are of roughly the same difficulty. This assumption won’t hold, but as a rough metric it seems reasonable.



Before I seemed quite able to put the time after 9pm to okay use- a pomo of cleaning, eating food, and then drawing. Now I’m just so burnt out at the end of each day that it hasn’t happened like that for two or three weeks.


Possible burnout cause: Not enough sleep. 7.5-8 hours every day may not be enough. Nap/slightly-earlier-bedtimes may fix everything. Certainly I can afford to lose ~ an hour given I already seem to lose 7-9pm most days anyway. The effect should be most obvious if I start now instead of waiting for next term.


Powdered soylent isn’t all that much more expensive than non-soylent when I factor buying fruit and junk in. $220 for a month’s worth versus ~$170 which is what I spend now. Then I only rarely have to go to the store.







  • Failed to regularly check email/inbox
    • Fixed! I now am checking these semi-regularly. Not quite daily.
  • Not strictly following work/break structure
    • Couldn’t manage it.
  • Inaccurate task assignment
    • Task length estimation plays poorly with multi-day tasks.
    • pomos set/done correlates heavily to pomos done
      • suggests I fail to guess when I’ll have a low pomo day.
      • I usually overestimate
  • Not studying
    • Barely keeping up with the homeworks again
  • Keeping the week of buffer
    • Big fat noooope.
  • Unhealthy eating
    • I ate two boxes of cookies over five days. Not going to do that again.
      • Bought a box of poptarts.



  • 100% Nature during breaks
    • I failed to do this. My breaks would often bleed into chatting and browsing the internet and I would have to reset them. I blatantly skewed my perception of.
  • treat things like they’re due 7 days before they are
    • Was sleep deprived for a week, lost my ground. Couldn’t quite recover.
  • No non-nature breaks at all.

No non-nature breaks at all

  • This worked for about the first week.
    • Started playing Starcraft 2
      • no excuse
    • Went back to watching Gamergate youtubes
      • no excuse
    • browsing imgur
      • no excuse
    • RPing
      • I hate to leave people hanging when we’re in the middle, and I also don’t like turning people down
    • chatting
      • The problem here is that I’m entrenched with other people, so I can’t just cut myself off from all contact forever
  • It may be a better idea to get X pomos out of the way and then do useless anime/RPing/bumbing about/whatevers? It doesn’t matter that they’re not break material if I do no more work that day.
    • On the other hand I want to be able to relax by doing fun engineering projects, not anime and the like.
      • But is that even possible if it draws on the same resources as schoolwork?


  • When pomobox says break, stop chatting.
    • This is a promise to myself.
      • broken
    • This is actually making the assumption that I’ll be chatting instead of working or breaking all of the time
  • virtual desktop #3 for nature
    • confuses rescue time
    • seems superior otherwise
  • tasks set/done is now used as pomos set/done
    • no- I kept it as it was and made a metric for pomos set/done.
    • Will remove tasks set/done and expected pomos and only use pomos set/done
  • Before taking any action, ask if this is really truly the best action I can take to succeed. What else is a better use of my time and effort?
    • didn’t do this at all!
  • fruit every non-oatmeal day
    • I’m not sure I’ve actually seen any benefit from doing this
    • if anything I feel worse- but finding the source of burnout is difficult
  • email/inbox as part of daily before pomos
    • This helped a bit. I tried not to use up too much time each day.
  • Study mostly new material
    • Kept me moving forward
  • minimum: 3 pomos homework, 3 pomos study
    • didn’t do this
  • study/homework roster
    • Quite helpful for keeping track of everything
  • Weekend mornings: 2 hours free, eat breakfast, then nature break
    • Kind of did this. Often ends up becoming 3-4 hours without a nature break.
    • Pomos set/done metric
      • may be an even better way of tracking productivity than pomos done AND tasks set/done
      • it scales to time available
      • is task agnostic.
      • It is both a way of measuring my ability to estimate what I am able to do, and also works as a productivity metric in an of itself.
      • It correlates very heavily with pomos done,
        • which implies I cannot predict how bad bad days will be.





old methods:

  • pomo predictions
    • nope
  • pomo structures 25/5/10 and 30/10
    • didn’t RP enough to change
    • 25/5/10 – chatting needs frequent posts.
  • setting pomo when I sit at comp
    • nope
  • washing dishes while microwaving
    • yep! Still liking the efficiency
  • oatmeal M/F
    • yep!
  • attention cleaning
    • Mostly cleared desk
  • attention questions
    • nope – I’ve pretty much gotten my distractions covered. There aren’t really any surprises here.
  • problem noticing
    • what problems?



Worked really well: Setting myself to do something every single day. Made it a challenge to my basic ability to apply myself to do one dumb thing no matter how awful every single day

  • I found myself compelled to draw for two weeks after my goal was over because it was easier to keep drawing than to stop.
    • And then I stopped caring.
      • I’d proven to myself it was possible to do the task I set out to do.
      • I stopped on a whim, and stayed stopped
      • I didn’t really want to continue unless I was going to really go hard on art. Just one fewer thing to deal with and think about.
  • In a way, this was very much in opposition to burnout.
    • I felt compelled to work instead of compelled not to work

“<Regex_> Today I break my daily draw streak for no particular reason after over a hundred days of not breaking it

<Regex_> Feels very strange to do so

<Regex_> In fact I feel compelled to do it even though I’ve decided not to- almost like anti procrastination

Really, really quite strong that habit has become.”

  • Considering how strong the compulsion to draw is, I can conclude that assigning ‘do x of any quality’ is a very highly effective habit builder, and yields motivation to do something
    • possibly because it feels good to accomplish- perhaps especially because there is no correlation to anything beyond that. I do the task, but care not for the result. So some good results.
    • Can I generalize this to make me feel good about studying and maybe it’ll become the anti-burnout? Definitely good for hobbies.




Worked really well: setting metrics for something highly mesurable (drawing, sleep amount)

  • #hours in bed per night (time to fall asleep is another metric entirely )
  • Over the course of four months my sleep schedule went from erratic to incredibly regular.
  • This occurred primarily with the institution of a set bed/wake time, but the very act of measuring it made the issue a lot more obvious and malleable




Listening to this music gets me all bouncy dancy excited, but it is distracting during productive hours. Possibly very good to start the day with!


playing games first means I lose the ability to do any more work


Took a nap – seemed to increase my overall productive percentage and time spent on productive things despite being sleep deprived.


Occasionally I find myself working past the pomo timer. Sometimes to prove my predictions closer to correct, other times because I didn’t quite spend all of my attention from earlier. This does not occur during burnout.


Slack masterminds

  • talking about my productivity generated TTT


It seems my attempts to force myself to follow the structure I’ve laid out has gone awry. I underestimated the impact of burnout as it hadn’t been this bad at the start of the term. I would blame the nature breaks, but this actually happens every term. I just hadn’t fought against it nearly so hard before.


I think I tried too many problems at once. I might have been able to do them if not for the far larger problem of burnout.


I graphed the number of pomodoros over the last few months here. The term started around day 80, so the general trend seems to confirm that I do fewer and fewer pomodoros over time as I burn out. That said, it definitely was fairly consistent in Februrary.


I am uncertain if feeling like I cannot be productive is the same as being incapable of being unproductive. They seem highly correlated, but that is because of a pressure to not work.

  • Does working when I don’t want to make it harder to work in the future?
  • Should I not listen to myself when I don’t want to work?


Tried sitting nap during nature break

  • nearly fell asleep many times
    • kept nearly falling out of my chair
  • felt weird after I stopped
  • felt more rested than a regular nature break


# pomos off is utterly worthless. Incredibly difficult to correlate anything as many tasks are multi-day affairs. Much, much better to keep track of them separately with pomonotes- then at the end of the biweek I can see how long the tasks took and my estimates all in one place. Metric unhelpful anywhere else.


Because System Idle Process is captured as ‘productive’ by rescuetime I can’t really trust its numbers. Too oftne have I found unproductiveness on my productive desktop. There have definitely been 0 productivity days with 4 hours of productivity marked. If pomo*30 > productive minutes, then it should be highly suspect.


Went on a walk thinking about fortnightly

  • had a whole bunch of ideas for it the next morning


<done/set> This structure for tasks

  • combines pomonote and MITs
  • easier to calculate total done
  • visually more appealing


It occurs to me that my daily method is a kind of wedge where I shove unproductive things. On one hand it guarantees that some set of things will get done every day, but on the other it seems to increase the difficulty of actually getting started.

Without it

I get home, take a shower, nature break, and then get started. I do as many as I can and then stop.

I however forget to do things like clean my inbox or check my email

With it

I definitely do particular things

I waffle a lot on wither to actually get started or not or just what the rules are for today or how much I can get away with before starting

I think switching between daily before and daily after pomos may be helpful in keeping things fresh. Maybe an every other week kind of thing?


Either allergic to strawberries, or strawberries gone bad. Further testing is required.


Cortex podcast

  • caused me to clean up tablet start screen





Over 3 weeks rather than the usual two:


fortnightly: 7

pillows: 2

dynamics reading: 6

dynamics exercises: 3

dynamics homework: 5

EF hw/lab: 26

EF reading: 7

ENGR hw: 17

ENGR reading: 4

ENGR exercises: 4

ENGR test studying: 6

mth reading/notes: 12

math homework: 4

slack archive: 2


Problems & Methods:


Unhealthy Eating:

  • Buy no delicious junk hence forth
    • srsly just don’t. It brings no hedons, and usually actually goes negative for various reasons


  • hypnosis relax/feel good commands every day for every break.
    • See how long the glow will last if I keep at it every day.
  • RPing, chatting, imgur, reddit, youtube, and gaming are off limits before getting 6 pomos in (3 study, 3 hw).
    • If done for the day, then they’re okay.
  • email/inbox/shower set AFTER 6 pomos
  • Inaccurate task assignment
    • pomos set/done metric updates
      • do not count dailies, email, inbox, or shower.
      • Count total pomos done, not just those set for particular tasks.
    • aim lower in general
      • want to roughly over and undershoot the same amount
      • and especially on days that feel kind of bad.

Fortnightly time intensity

  • Continually add to fortnightly instead of all at once
    • do during cleanup pomo every third night

Rescue Time inaccurately measures productive time

  • – apparently works with rescuetime
  • new virtual desktop setup
    • #1 misc
    • #2 work (current task)
    • #3 break (nature)
    • #4 control (one note)



  • fruit + oatmeal regularly
  • study/hw roster
  • weekend 2hr morning break, food, nature break
  • attention cleaning




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