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Chriswaterguy comments on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2012) - Less Wrong

25 Post author: orthonormal 26 December 2011 10:57PM

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Comment author: Chriswaterguy 08 January 2012 10:14:21AM *  5 points [-]

I'm 41, working on a wiki project for sustainability and development, which I love (and part-time on a related project which I like and actually get paid for). I use the same username everywhere, so if you're curious, you won't have trouble finding the wiki project.

I'm a one-time evangelical Christian. I think it was emotional damage from my upbringing that made me frightened to let go of that, and I stayed a believer for 9 years, starting in my late teens. I took it extremely seriously, and there were good things about that. But with hindsight, I would direct people to other places for their personal growth than becoming a believer. Later, just a few years ago, I did the Landmark Forum, which was very powerful and mostly very positive, though I wouldn't recommend that as a first step in working on personal development, unless you're already pretty successful and mature. I'm also a big fan of Nonviolent Communication, and I'd recommend that to anyone.

I learned about Less Wrong a year ago (from someone else on the wiki project) and loved it. I've been meaning to join, but the thing that prompted me now is that I need help, in the form of accountability, and this seems like a good place.

I do a lot of work, but I find myself distracted from the work I most need to do. The persistence of the problem leads me to carry out a "lifestyle experiment" for the next 3 weeks. I'm calling it my "3 week Serious Focus experiment", and the key ingredients are:

  • Being sensible: doing stuff that I need to do, that will have a big positive effect on my life, before doing other stuff, no matter how good or enticing
  • Being accountable: I'm posting here, and will do so on Facebook and G+, and will tell friends In Real Life.
  • Regarding it as an experiment: I'm only committing myself to 10-30 Jan 2012, so I can play at being hardline with myself, like it's a bootcamp. I can extend or make new decisions at the end, but the time limit means it doesn't feel like a trap that I'm desperate to escape from.
  • A focus on (a) livelihood - the stuff I'm already getting paid for, and (b) taking the wiki project to the next level, i.e. strategic work before maintenance or putting out fires.

The rules for the Serious Focus experiment are:

  • Plan each night before bed - up to 6 items to work on the following day
  • 3 hours solid work on the one or two top items (livelihood and strategy) before looking at email (except perhaps work related - I have email filters for that) or at work-related social media, or at messages I get on the wiki site. (Only exception is if it's so urgent that a colleague on the wiki project calls or IMs me - which is very rare.)
  • Any work I'm tempted to do on secondary things (not among the 6 items, and taking more than 5 min) to be written down and put aside until the 3 solid hours are done.
  • After the 3 hours are done, I loosen up a bit, but still focus on getting those items done.
  • All items must be done before checking personal social media at all. (I'm allowed to post any time, but not look at replies or other people's statuses.) If I don't get all 6 items finished, that's ok - going without Facebook will do me good, even if I don't get a chance to check it for the whole 3 weeks!

I'm going to start now, but I'm making my official start date 2 days away, so there's time for feedback on the plan and to adjust it if needed, before I launch the experiment.

Glad to join you all at Less Wrong!

Comment author: orthonormal 18 January 2012 05:27:56AM 2 points [-]

How's your Serious Focus experiment going?

Comment author: macronencer 11 January 2012 01:12:36PM 1 point [-]

I like this experiment! Maybe I'll do something similar myself; I'll be interested to hear how it turns out for you.

One of the major difficulties I have with the way my mind works is that although it's possible to identify the causal link between actions taken now and the results they bring about in the long-term future, unfortunately it's very hard to keep this connection in the forefront of the mind and take daily actions that are motivated by it. In other words, the problem of delayed gratification (I haven't read the Sequences yet but I think there's something in there about that). Have you ever taken a look at David Allen's GTD system? I've found it useful because it prescribes a cycle of doing/reviewing, which helps keep you on track even when the long-term objectives may be shifting.

Your reference to "work-related social media" is telling. I'm beginning to work in media music where networking is vitally important, and I am finding that the rationalisation of "it's important for work" significantly exacerbates the distraction caused by the temptation of such things as Facebook.