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Kaj_Sotala comments on The Power of Reinforcement - Less Wrong

97 Post author: lukeprog 21 June 2012 01:42PM

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Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 21 June 2012 11:14:47AM *  14 points [-]

Does this mean that we should stop punishing ourselves for procrastination?

My personal experience strongly suggests that "stop punishing yourself for X" helps avoid X, for most if not all X. For instance, becoming a vegetarian was much easier when I didn't try to go cold turkey, but rather was fine with the fact that I would succumb to the lure of eating meat every now and then. When I did, I felt a little guilty, but then shrugged and thought that I'd try better the next time. I still fall victim to that temptation occasionally, but it's much more rare now than it used to be.

This might have something to do with the fact that if you punish yourself for trying and failing, you stop wanting to try in the first place, as it becomes associated with the negative emotions. Also, accepting and being okay with the occasional failure makes you treat it as a genuine choice where you have agency, not something that you're forced to do against your will.

See also It's okay to be (at least a little) irrational.

Comment author: Vladimir_Golovin 21 June 2012 12:05:24PM 5 points [-]

Perhaps this is why I like Autofocus better than GTD. "It is fine to have incomplete tasks in your task list".

Also, non-punishment for failures may be one of the distinctions between play-like work and work-like work.

Comment author: Caspian 18 July 2013 01:35:29PM 1 point [-]

I think I even have work-like play where a game stops being fun. And yes, play-like work is what I want to achieve.

Comment author: Vladimir_Golovin 19 July 2013 06:29:36AM 1 point [-]

In case of work-like play, I have a resolution: stop playing immediately. It doesn't mean quitting the game for good, but rather "end the session now, if a game permits that". Also, this is why I generally don't play games that punish me for leaving early (e.g. WoW raids, DOTA2).

Comment author: CAE_Jones 18 July 2013 02:06:39PM 1 point [-]

Anecdote: I've made suggestions to someone on how he might optimize the time he spends writing for his various projects, and more than once he's responded that a given strategy would make it feel too much like work (I don't remember off hand if he said explicitly that this would be an instrumental problem, or if that was only implied). I'm not really sure how I feel on how I might go about applying this concept, mostly because of my extremely vague definitions of work / play, but I do find that having certain restrictions--something as simple as paper size, for example--tends to make it much easier to work on something. (I wrote a shortstory by specifying what it would need to fit in, and measuring books I'd made in the same format years earlier; I made a large number of maps for a game by using a format restricted to 32 tiles across, etc. I haven't found good ways to apply this strategy to most of what I try to do, though.).