Fortnightly 13


I change rules a lot in the middle of the week, but don’t note the minor changes. If you compare the ones at the beginning to the ones at the end they’re often quite different.

Is there a way to come up with an ideal task state? I always just end up staring at walls mindlessly.

Every move to cut

  • efficiency of movement
    • fewer mistakes
    • practice common skills to improve executution
    • time of day
  • highest order bits
    • what can I drop?
  • proper valuation of time/money
    • Are you properly weighing your time/expenses? Acting too rashly or too slow? Do you really need to do this? Is this really the most important thing you could be doing right now?
    • Is it worth doing twice?
  • catalog of failures to learn from
    • overvalue time, undervalue money: bed, drill, lung
    • not looking for alternatives: bed, drill
  • Cutting the prominant hypothesis
  • accurate modeling
    • all inputs, especially emotional
      • exhaustion
      • not wanting to
      • time of day
  • multiple models
    • contrast each to all
    • what are its assumptions?
    • How else could the issue or situation be viewed?
  • general epistemic questions
    • Is it even worth worrying about?
    • did I think through an example?
    • has it ever actually happened?
    • what do other people think?
    • What tangible evidence do you expect?
    • what evidence would you not expect?
    • who do you think would agree with your conclusion?
    • Who do you think would disagree?
    • Do you trust your conclusion? Why?
    • How much would you bet on being incorrect?
    • On being correct?
    • Were your answers to agree and disagree it all friends and all enemies or people you think highly/lowly of?
    • Is your analysis thorough enough to actually show to other people with confidence?
    • Go ask the people you thought of, providing each the precise same information (word document or video. Not in person.).
    • Have you really truly honestly thought it through?
    • What probability would you ascribe your position?
    • What would you expect an expert would say? A skeptic?
    • How might it all go horribly wrong?
    • What are the cheapest, fastest, and easiest pieces of evidence to get?
  • primary problems
    • chatting/RPing
      • just say no
    • open browser windows
      • dump ’em

Pomo pondering was in the right direction, but it isn’t quite there. Tiips and tricks built up from experience are good, but I only keep a couple of them and throw away so much information each fortnightly. I believe that it needs to produce something actually useful. That is to say, I ought use it as much as I build it.

I think what I really need is a strategy guide for my life.

The major issue here is the interface of how to write out useful information. When I sit down to do something I should be able to ask of it ‘Have I done this before and how did that go? What other things did I not try? What is the crucial information I need to know to make this go as smoothly as possible?’

That quality needs to be increased with time. I ought crystalize information as useful by using it repeatedly.

That is to say exactly enough of the correct information. Too little and it isn’t helpful, but you also don’t want to give out too much or it will simply be bloat, or lizardmen that impersonate you will be able to do too good of a job.

I’ll be using Evernote for its searching capabilities. May change it later.


Problems being solved:

  • being distracted by non-work. Sometimes an idea to google something, often tabs being left open.
  • reviewing methods is ineffective
  • Lack of knowledge of object-level problems
    • aka looking for where my tasks go wrong or could be better/faster/easier

ingrained rules

no GG/imgur

no eating/buying treats (unless offered within the past 6 hours, no asking)

2hr break on weekends

Green: pomo pondering.
Red: remove headphones

flash: Dump & pick tabs, increment pomo, if blue: rule review, press button.

5 minute break, 25 minute work, 3 minute pomo pondering

until done with work (min: 6 pomo, (3hw/3study))

no non-work activities

desktops 2-4

distractions: write up, or move to #1

discarded rules

Brief chat (1-3 replies) allowed during green.

Yellow: linkdump & pick post-pomo

chat during flash

until done with work:

  • no non-work
  • desktops 2-4
  • distractions written up or moved to 1
  • This seems to be the fundamental piece of getting stuff done. Only do the things that actually require your attention, don’t go to those areas where there are distractions, if distractions appear in your work area, move them out or take a note for later

No GG/imgur

  • I have utterly crushed this habit. Avoiding automatically going to mindless entertainment sites that I already agree with. My attention is better served elsewhere.

No eating/buying treats

  • There have been a few minor gray areas, but I’ve narrowed it down to: only if people offer it to me, and I’m not allowed to ask for it.

2hr break on weekends

  • Seems to help get over the initial morning hump. It isn’t that much easier to work afterward, but this has a comparative advantage for anime. Bettter to watch that then than during productive hours.

Green: Pomo pondering

  • What was/is my task’s goal?
  • Reflect. What happened?
  • How does the task or do my actions suck?
  • What can I change to reach the goal with less sucking?
  • How did the changes affect things?
  • brain stack dump
  • While ever so slightly in the correct direction, this has been largely an exercise in trying to figure out how to apply the structure to tasks where it really doesn’t fit.
  • When I use with with things I know well, been doing for a while, or have a clear understanding of the effects and outcomes, it produces clear and interesting insights.
  • More effectively than the direct question ‘what is working well and poorly?’, but still not great.
  • If I try to use it for something new or that has unclear consequences or a singular possible action I just get back noise. Not much to say about reading a textbook. Doing the exercises is a little better.
  • If I didn’t have anything to say I just took a slightly longer break, which was nice because breaks were reduced to 5 minutes
  • At its best it allows me to look at what I was doing and ask where the issue actually are. I am no longer limited to what was on my mind while I was doing the task. Combined with rule review my behavior can change very rapidly.

Red: Remove headphones

  • removing headphones at the start of my pomodoro
  • meant I wouldn’t hear chat messages and so wouldn’t stop my task in the middle. Drastically improved pomo efficiency.

flash: Dump & pick tabs, increment pomo, if blue: rule review, press button.

  • Looking at it now this is actually clearly a method- aka a checklist.
  • Dumping tabs helps to keep my workspace clean. It doesn’t always balloon with tabs, but I don’t usually fix that problem immediately.
  • I don’t think I’d forget to increment the pomo tbh, but its there to keep it in sequence.
  • Blue rule review to be covered separately,

5/25/3 break/work/pondering

  • Breaks definitely felt shorter, but the work periods also felt more meaningful.

Blue: Rule Review

  • Go down the list for each rule, what am I supposed to do and what did I do?
  • ingrained: any surprising effects?
  • not following: apply rule framework
    • failure of:


  • problem:


  • Solution:

ideas for midweek TTT

  • alter rules with solution
  • I have my pomobox set to go off every three pomos. (It’ll flash blue rather than the usual yellow)
  • Because this is every ~2 hours I can ensure I haven’t broken any rules.
  • In the case of me breaking a rule I can figure out what behavior was wrong, and then take steps to keep that behavior in line in the future.

Brief chat allowed during green

  • I often would have no one to chat to
  • I didn’t want to start a chat and then be caught up in it during the pomo
  • green light has a set duration

Yellow: linkdump & post-pomo

  • Linkdump was removed and then put back in, and post-pomo became pomo pondering and was given green
  • I reused the term post-pomo to mean after 8:00pm

random things that worked really well:

  • Writing up my problems & solutions when doing calculations on homework and example problems.
  • Very frequently I would take a break from an engineering problem and when I came back to it I would be able to pinpoint the issue within one attempt.
  • Once or twice I woke up focused and willing to work. This happened on the days when I took a while to fall asleep or woke up repeatedly in the night. I suffered for it the next few days afterward due to reduced sleep.
  • Alternating between doing reading and doing a homework or example problem. That way I never get too much mental pressure of either, connect the knowledge better, and still make progress in each.
  • First using tablet to write out the relationships of variables along with graphs, and then using excel for calculations instead of google. This ensures I can work out the problem cognitively and keep a label for my data, and have all of the calculations right there. It is also very easy to replace a variable provided I mistyped it- all my equations automatically update.
  • Committing to do a particular number of pomos during a particular timeframe and promising to absolutely ignore distractions.

Problems & Methods:


  • Neck/shoulder tension and pain
  • consistently low pomodoro numbers
  • lack of object level information


  • 7 pomos every day

New system: Life Strategy Guide. I’m unsure as to its specifics, but I wrote out a whole bunch for it. It will take a while to figure out, but it should prove to be revolutionary in the improvement of all of my most important tasks once I get it going right and proper. I promise I’ll actually explain this system before I move on to that one though. It is just that I’ve got three midterms next week. Yikes.

That said it should also solve the I’ve-got-all-these-rules-ingrained-but-I-don’t-care-to-look-at-them-all-the-time issue I’ve got. Also keeping track of all of my methods that I no longer use but might want. Tracking down those things is a pain.

New rules:

slouching: butt & blades in back of chair, shoulders down and back

post-pomo: assign tomorrow’s tasks

4-8pm: productive time. Nothing but pomos. No pomo-breaking actions. Do it right.

2 hour break every morning

No pomo pondering

old to ingrain:

flash: Dump & pick tabs, increment pomo, if blue: rule review, press button.

It is unclear how I should treat the gaps in my schedule between 8:30am and 4pm, but so long as I actually do pomos from 4pm to 8pm anything is permissable. That’s more than I’m doing most days currently, and so an improvement. There is a whole half hour extra in there to do rule reviews and to account for button pressing slowness.


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