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Akrasia Tactics Review 3: The Return of the Akrasia

12 Post author: malcolmocean 10 April 2017 03:05PM

About three and a half years ago, polutropon ran an akrasia tactics review, following the one orthonormal ran three and a half years prior to that: an open-ended survey asking Less Wrong posters to give numerical scores to productivity techniques that they'd tried, with the goal of getting a more objective picture of how well different techniques work (for the sort of people who post here). Since it's been years since the others and the rationality community has grown and developed significantly while retaining akrasia/motivation/etc as a major topic, I thought it'd be useful to have a new one!

(Malcolm notes: it seems particularly likely that this time there are likely to be some noteworthy individually-invented techniques this time, as people seem to be doing a lot of that sort of thing these days!)

A lightly modified version of the instructions from the previous post:

  1. Note what technique you've tried. Techniques can be anything from productivity systems (Getting Things Done, Complice) to social incentives (precommitting in front of friends) to websites or computer programs (Beeminder, Leechblock) to chemical aids (Modafinil, Caffeine). If it's something that you can easily link to information about, please provide a link and I'll add it when I list the technique; if you don't have a link, describe it in your comment and I'll link that. It could also be a cognitive technique you developed or copied from a friend, which might not have a clear name but you can give it one if you like!
  2. Give your experience with it a score from -10 to +10 (0 if it didn't change the status quo, 10 if it ended your akrasia problems forever with no unwanted side effects, negative scores if it actually made your life worse, -10 if it nearly killed you). For simplicity's sake, I'll only include reviews that give numerical scores.
  3. Describe your experience with it, including any significant side effects. Please also say approximately how long you've been using it, or if you don't use it anymore how long you used it before giving up.

Every so often, I'll combine all the data back into the main post, listing every technique that's been reviewed at least twice with the number of reviews, average score, standard deviation and common effects. I'll do my best to combine similar techniques appropriately, but it'd be appreciated if you could try to organize it a bit by replying to people doing similar things and/or saying if you feel your technique is (dis)similar to another.

I'm not going to provide an initial list due to the massive number of possible techniques and concern of prejudicing answers, but you can look back on the list in the last post or the previous one one if you want. If you have any suggestions for how to organize this (that wouldn't require huge amounts of extra effort on my part), I'm open to hearing them.

Thanks for your data!

(There's a meta thread here for comments that aren't answers to the main prompt.)

Comments (46)

Comment author: drossbucket 10 April 2017 07:10:30PM *  5 points [-]

Cool, I like these sorts of lists! Here's mine:

  1. (Mostly) giving up caffeine. 7 points, ~5 years. Much easier to get up in the morning. I have a single cup of tea maybe once or twice a month if I feel like I need waking up more, and that's enough to do the job now. Best used in combination with another elite lifehack, highly recommended if you can manage it:

  2. Getting enough sleep. 7 points, ~5 years.

  3. Pomodoros. 8 points, ~9 months. Really excellent and not sure why I resisted the idea so long. Turns out lots of half hour blocks really add up, and it's significantly changed how I work. This is a relatively recent thing so probably still overexcited about it.

  4. Keeping my desk clear of paper. 6 points, ~2 years. I used to be awful at having stuff piled up everywhere, which would put me off working at home and convince me that I had to go to a library or something. This works by having box files so that the paper never ends up there in the first place.

  5. Lot of calendar reminder email alerts. 4 points, ~3 years. Not exactly life-changing but I have fewer birthday present buying panics.

  6. Todoist. 3 points, ~9 months. It has Gmail integration so I do check it, and it sort of works, but gets clogged with stale stuff too easily. I generally find todo lists hard though so this is good by my standards.

  7. Beeminder. 5 points (but hard to attach a single number to), used for ~4 months 2 years ago and then stopped. Extremely effective way to simulate the stress of having a lot of external deadlines. It worked brilliantly on a time-sensitive project I had, but too stress-inducing for me to want to use permanently. It did do an excellent job of reminding me what being a productive person felt like, and I'd use it again if I really needed to, but mostly it just made me realise I needed to get my internal motivation working better.

  8. Leechblock type browser extensions. 4 points, used them on and off for ~4 years up to about two years ago. I think the one I liked most was called Crackbook, which added a delay to the page load time instead of outright blocking it. They tend to work OK until they don't. There's no particular reason I stopped using them, except that the problem doesn't seem so urgent now I have a normal full time job and value my free time a bit more.

Comment author: moridinamael 11 April 2017 04:18:19PM *  3 points [-]
  • Daily journaling, -2 points, consistently for stints of a month or so with large gaps. I tried to keep up a morning journaling practice of gratitude journaling, priming myself on a number of important meta-level questions, and keeping track of what I was planning to do that day in pursuit of my high-level goals. In the end, all this really did was take up a lot of time every morning and leave me with a sort of scattered and unsatisfied mentality about how there's so much to do.

  • Monthly journaling, +7 points, pretty consistently for 3 years. At the start of each month I open up a new Evernote document and write in it whenever I feel like it. Some of my journal entries are ten thousand word essays. Some of them are just aggregations of links that I thought were interesting that month. Usually the entries are divided by topic, with some of the topics usually being physical health, mental/"spiritual" development, and progress on long-term projects or life events. At the end of each month, I share the journal entry with a handful of very close friends. The journal provides a nice long-term record of my thought processes regarding my life and my projects, it's really nice to be able to look back over it, and it never at any time feels like a chore. It keeps me focused and excited about my long-term projects because I like to have progress that I can write about and share with my friends.

  • Beeminder, +3 points, off and on for over 3 years. That point score might drop lower if I fully accounted for all the time I put into thinking through Beeminder goals, and for all the money I've lost by failing at them. Some Beeminder goals turn out to be good, some turn out to just make you hate Beeminder and not do what you wanted to do anyway. Just making sure your goals are SMART goals does not seem to be an adequate criterion.

  • Getting Things Done, +1 points, off and on for over 4 years. A system which sucks up a large amount of time and rarely provides a return on that investment, relative to just mentally keeping track of things. I can't really say that I drop the ball more frequently when I'm not actively using GTD.

  • Meditation, +3 points, off and on for 3 years. The utility of meditation depends very much on what's going on in my life.

  • Exercise, +4 points, random stints. While I'm consistently working out, my energy and emotional-endocrine-whatever balance seems much better and I get more done. I'm just in a better mood overall.

  • Children, +10 points, 4.5 years. You can't really not do things when you have children. That "I'll do it later" voice just kind of shrivels up and dies eventually, at least regarding kid-related stuff.

  • Following obsession energy, +10 points, 3 years. I've written a book and an iPhone app just by noticing that I was really excited about those projects and feeding those obsessions, riding those waves until they ran out. They always run out eventually, but I accomplish so much more for having let just let myself loose and not trying to constrain myself to working on what I "should" be working on.

Comment author: drossbucket 12 April 2017 05:06:39PM *  0 points [-]

I like the sound of the monthly journalling thing - normally I see reviewing included in these things as some kind of virtuous-but-dull thing people make themselves sit down to do at the end of the week or whatever, and it sounds so unappealing I can never be bothered to even try it. Your version sounds pretty enjoyable.

Comment author: moridinamael 13 April 2017 02:15:31PM 2 points [-]

In that case, I'll add the detail that I use a Blogger blog and grant specific permissions to my friends, and then email them letting them know when a new entry is posted. I also always try to post "discussion questions" at the end of my entries, where I prompt them for feedback on whatever it was I was thinking about that month. This greatly increases the odds that they actually post comments and then we can have a discussion. It's much more fun when there's two-way communication.

Comment author: IsTheLittleLion 11 April 2017 11:36:06AM *  3 points [-]
  • Mini Habits, 10 points, ~2 months. Still early to say but this seems so effective it puts it in a league of it's own. This helped me to exercise every day, eat healthy, and do mindfulness meditation each day (among other things) for the past few months.

  • Stoicism, 7 points, 1 year. Nothing can ruin your productivity as negative emotions can. Stoicism in the form of Daily Stoic proved effective for me in reducing negative emotions. Now I have a habit of reading one page of Daily Stoic per day.

  • Mindfulness meditation, 7 points, 4 years. It has been on and off for me few months at a time. While on, seems like it improves my ability to concentrate and I notice I'm procrastinating easier. Also helps to reduce negative emotions.

  • ZTD (or simply a TODO list), 4 points, 5 years. A simplified form of GTD.

  • Reducing alcohol consumption, 4 points, 1 year.

  • Nicorette gum, 2 points, 1 year. It works better than caffeine for me.

  • Modafinil, 1 point, 2 years. It makes me irritable so I use it only when I know I have the whole day for myself.

New one I invented: one-day personhood. Has similar effects as stoicism and mindfulness. Still too early to say the strength of the effects.

Comment author: lifelonglearner 10 April 2017 03:17:52PM *  3 points [-]

Ways I Fight Akrasia:

Precommitments: Positive Peer Pressure: Doing work with a friend, LW study hall, etc. +5 This is a consistent way to get work done.

Removing FB News Feed: Helps remove a large chunk of browsing time. +2

Site-blockers: Remove access to sites like Reddit, YouTube, etc. Also removed web browser on my tablet. +5 This has reduced many poor browsing habits on my end.

GTD system: Emailing tasks to myself, in addition to having “unread first” has helped me see at a glance what things I need to do. Workflowy for larger tasks. +3

Mental Tools: Internal Double Crux: Used in situations where I need to figure out my aversion towards a task. Used somewhat sparingly, but fairly effective. +3 (Search for Quick Focusing on the link.)

Reference Class Forecasting / Murphyjitsu: Used to remove bias from my planning and problem-proof them. +2

Comment author: Yosarian2 10 April 2017 03:21:42PM *  2 points [-]

I used the app "HabitRPG" on my phone. It's an app where you basically set a series of tasks you want to do every day or every week, and it basically "gamifies" them; a little RPG character earns experience and gold when you do the task and check it off and loses hitpoints if you don't.

https://habitica.com/static/front

Overall I'd give it about a +5. I used it for about two months when I was starting a new job, and I think it did help me create good habits for my new situation, although I can't say for sure since I don't have a control or a baseline to compare it to. After about 2 months I felt like I didn't need it anymore and stopped, and the good habits more or less persisted. Downside is probably that it's a little time consuming and can itself be a distraction sometimes, and you still need some degree of self motivation for it to work.

Comment author: root 10 April 2017 08:58:19PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: gworley 10 April 2017 06:01:45PM *  1 point [-]

I don't know a shorthand name for what to call this, so here's a cluster of things pointing at the mindset that makes akrasia unthinkable:

  • seeing yourself as making preference tradeoffs
  • seeing yourself as a single agent
  • not seeing yourself as composed of 2 or more subagents
  • every choice is a regret (a strange formulation of the idea that resonates for some people)
  • giving up hope (one I like but confuses most people)
  • having preferences not expectations/assumptions/motivated reasoning
  • ontology is not metaphysics (the map really really fucking does not describe the territory)

Essentially I solved akrasia completely (as in it just evaporated from my way of thinking) once I stopped expecting the world to come into particular states despite what I believe to be true. In some ways this over solves the problem, but does it because the source of akrasia, expectations about your own future state as caused by current actions, cannot hold if you don't hold on to expectations or assumptions that are not weighted to the available evidence.

Put in more woo-terms, I achieved enough Buddha-nature to free myself from this kind of self-created suffering. Through wuwei I admit only what is ziran and achieve harmonious flow with the way of the world.

+10 solved akrasia forever with no unwanted side effects.

ETA: been like this for about 4 years now.

Comment author: moridinamael 11 April 2017 04:00:00PM 0 points [-]

I can't help but read

I achieved enough Buddha-nature to free myself from this kind of self-created suffering. Through wuwei I admit only what is ziran and achieve harmonious flow with the way of the world.

as

I stopped trying to make myself do things that I don't want to do.

Which is a kind of solution to the akrasia problem, and one that I admittedly find useful. Most of the time these days I just double down on whatever project I currently have obsession-energy for and don't try to force myself to shift my attention based abstract "shoulds". Is this an accurate reflection of what you mean?

Comment author: gworley 11 April 2017 06:32:38PM 0 points [-]

I think that's a fair assessment. If I don't want to do it (I prefer something else over it), I do that instead. Put another way, I never try to do anything: I just do things or don't.

Comment author: Lumifer 11 April 2017 06:55:45PM *  0 points [-]

Akrasia's primary consequence is that you end up sacrificing medium- and long-term utility for very-short-term one.

So if you just don't do things you don't want to do (right now), how do your long-term planning and execution function?

Comment author: gworley 11 April 2017 07:34:32PM 0 points [-]

Virtue and luck.

Seriously.

Virtue is something like maximizing the balance of preference satisficing to achieve overall maximum satisfaction, and luck is something like increasing the probability of things you would like to happen to have happened. By adopting strategies that are appealing in the short term that overall increase my virtue and luck, I tend to act in directions over time that end up being how I would like to have acted and expose me to opportunities I would like to have taken.

That I do this without deliberate planning does mean I have limited control over the specific outcomes I achieve, but then I think in general people worry too much about specific outcomes anyway. As I like to put it, it's very hard to take a particular path through configuration space over time, but it's pretty easy to set your direction so you end up near where you'd like to be.

So the direct answer to your question is perhaps that they function quite well since what I want to do now is aligned with what I want to have done in the medium and long term.

Comment author: Lumifer 11 April 2017 07:47:12PM 0 points [-]

Virtue is something like maximizing the balance of preference satisficing to achieve overall maximum satisfaction

That's a... very unusual usage of the word "virtue".

luck is something like increasing the probability of things you would like to happen to have happened

Sure, probably better called "making your own luck".

By adopting strategies that are appealing in the short term that overall increase my virtue and luck

Well, but that's precisely my question. You claim you do not do anything that is unappealing in the short term. So the set of options from which you pick your actions is such that they have to be appealing in the short term AND beneficial in the long term? What happens if this set is empty at the moment?

in general people worry too much about specific outcomes anyway

Descend a bit in the Maslow's hierarchy and check if it's still a reasonable position :-)

what I want to do now is aligned with what I want to have done in the medium and long term

OK. So how does this alignment happen and how do you maintain it? What happens if it breaks?

Comment author: gworley 11 April 2017 10:29:02PM 0 points [-]

I guess my way of thinking of virtue is a bit weird. Virtue is classically described as something like balancing values, but because I take an existentialist view the only source of values I can have is my own preferences, I might as well admit I'm trading off against preferences. That I prefer for my preferences to reflect available knowledge of what worked for others (wisdom), my sense of virtue tends to flatten out as something pretty much like how 'virtue' is normally used.

As to doing unappealing things, I think that's a weird way to ask the question. It's not that I never do anything that, all else equal, I would prefer not to do, so in some sense I do unappealing things all the time. But there is always some action that, on balance, is most preferred, so I always do that one (though I must freely admit by ability to determine what is most preferred is by no means perfect and I make mistakes all the time). Sometimes the most preferred action is to just wait and do nothing. Questions of long-term and short-term outcomes don't really come into the picture here.

As to Maslow, I'm pretty sure I don't stop being self-actualized when I'm hungry, I'm just now in need of food. Same for many other necessities. And I still don't need to care very much about the specifics of satisfying my needs for food, shelter, etc. so long as I find a way to satisfy those needs. To me Maslow kind of gets it backwards in that self-actualization eliminates the ability of more "basic" needs to dominate your thinking, though to be fair because of where Maslow stops I basically have to lump all post-formal thinking about the self into "self-actualization".

Finally, as to alignment of preferences for short, medium, and long term objectives, my best answer is lots of experience at being honest with myself. I can either want something enough to take actions to get it or not; there's no need to have the form of regret we call akrasia if I end up not wanting to do something. I balanced the preferences, made my choice, and now I live with it. If it turns out I'm not getting the things I want and living the life I want to live, that's pressure to change my preferences.

Let me make this concrete. I like donuts. All else equal, I'd eat donuts every morning until I felt sick of eating them and had to stop (maybe after about 8 donuts I'm guessing). So let's say I do this. Donuts are a lot of calories but not very filling, so I'm going to be hungry again soon after eating them. Over a course of weeks, I'm going to gain weight as a result of the excess calories. At some point I'll notice and think "I'd like to be less fat" and think about how to achieve that goal. I'll notice that eating donuts is adding lots of unnecessary calories, so then I feel pressure not to eat donuts. Having experienced donuts making me fat and not wanting to be fat I'll less eat donuts. If I fail to cut down my donut consumption and continue to gain weight, then fine, I apparently like donuts more than being skinny. I'm the only one reasonable for how fat I am, so I'm the only one it really matters to how fat I am. I fully accept responsibility for myself, I'm the only person who I can control how they change the state of the world, and so I simply must act having accepted that responsibility for myself since no one else will.

So my alignment can't really break for any longer than I can fail to update on the evidence. This is maybe the whole point: having accepted radical self responsibility, I'm the only person doing anything about my preferences, so the only sense I can "break" is to choose otherwise. I have no form to break from; there's just being.

Comment author: Lumifer 12 April 2017 03:26:04PM *  1 point [-]

I understand how it works for you, but I have two associations that came up while reading your comment. One is taking the path of the least resistance -- you float to where the river carries you. The other one is treating your own decision mechanism as a black box which you refuse to peer into. The box says that it weighted the alternatives and you should do X, so you nod and do X.

I think the critical point here is the one you mentioned: "seeing yourself as a single agent". Most approaches to akrasia start with positing two yous: one which wants to find immediate satisfaction and avoid unpleasantness and effort right now, and one which is capable of planning and wants to sacrifice some utility now in the hopes of getting more utility tomorrow.

You say you transcended that, but I wonder if you just stuffed these yous into that black box and closed your eyes to their fights -- as long as the winner (at the moment) tells you what to do, you don't care about the process by which this decision was arrived at.

Comment author: gworley 12 April 2017 06:42:15PM 0 points [-]

As far as floating where the river carries me, this is in fact my position and a metaphor I like, although what most people would mean by "path of least resistance" supposes a lack of complexity. I guess if you could only reason about one preference at a time you'd always do the one thing that was most preferred, but being able to balance multiple preferences, what is "easiest" is often not obvious before composing preferences. I am of course limited by how much deliberation and memory (time and space complexity) I can devote to a decision, so I can of course make no claim to global optimality.

I think this also addresses the black box concerns. There is a way in which you could take this position without awareness that you have competing preferences and some thought process by which you resolve them. This is similar to the popular notion of what Buddhist or Daoist practice looks like, and although I have no doubt some people actually do it this way because the traditions definitely have that interpretation and present similarly if you ignore mental phenomena, there's a more nuanced position which sublimates unification and differentiation to each other to yield a complex, single "gray box" approach.

Comment author: Lumifer 12 April 2017 07:09:16PM *  0 points [-]

there's a more nuanced position which sublimates unification and differentiation to each other to yield a complex, single "gray box" approach

And we're off to Hegelian dialectics and the thesis - antithesis - synthesis triad :-)

But how is your position different from the trivial observation that everyone always does what he wants, even though he might be conflicted about it and experience regret afterwards?

Comment author: entirelyuseless 12 April 2017 01:11:30AM 0 points [-]

You seem to be answering my question after all, even if you don't ask it: the answer is that it doesn't bother you. Consider the situation I mentioned, fleshed out a bit. Suppose someone is deciding whether to clean his room or browse internet. "It would be better to clean the room," he says, and then browses the net. The normal akratic person in this situation would be upset that he did not manage to clean the room. You would say, "Actually, I wanted to browse the net instead, obviously, since that's what I did."

But then suppose it happens again day after day. The akratic person will be upset again and again, in the same way. You will instead say, "Apparently my desire to browse the net is pretty strong."

At long last the person cleans the room. He says, "I managed to overcome my akrasia." You say, "The room was messy enough that I actually preferred to clean it."

The main problem with your attitude is that it seems to depend on denying moral realism: right at the beginning, when you say that you must have preferred browsing the net, the other person may say, "Sure, I preferred browsing the net. But that's bad, because it would have been objectively better to clean the room."

Comment author: gworley 12 April 2017 02:17:49AM 0 points [-]

Sure, I absolutely reject moral realism, and see no way to judge whether browsing the net or cleaning your room is better than in terms of preference satisfaction. I've covered this position extensively elsewhere.

https://mapandterritory.org/nothing-is-forbidden-but-some-things-are-good-b57f2aa84f1b

Moral realism is simply at odds with the structure of the world as we find it, so I find it unhelpful to include it in my ontology.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 12 April 2017 03:42:21AM 0 points [-]

I disagree and have argued the point on LW at other times. But I think the most obvious problem is the fact that you talk about "ontology", as though moral realism implies the existence of moral atoms, or something like that.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 11 April 2017 02:59:06PM 0 points [-]

Can you clarify what you mean? Do you mean that you solved akrasia in the sense that you never ever e.g. spend 10 minutes browsing interesting websites when you could have productively been doing something else? Or do you mean that if this happens, it simply does not bother you any more?

Comment author: gworley 11 April 2017 06:34:49PM 0 points [-]

I mean that I have unasked the question you are trying to ask.

Comment author: malcolmocean 10 April 2017 04:02:32PM *  1 point [-]

META: Put discussion about the format etc in response to this comment

Comment author: gjm 10 April 2017 10:40:44PM 1 point [-]

If you want comments made in some non-standard way (e.g., certain categories of comments to go only under your top-level "meta" comment) then there should be some indication of this in the post itself.

Comment author: malcolmocean 11 April 2017 03:06:37PM 0 points [-]

Good call. Sorry for the messy experience in response to your question! I didn't think of it until afterwards.

Comment author: gjm 10 April 2017 10:40:07PM 1 point [-]

Is it worth giving two scores, one for "how well it worked while I was doing it" and one for "how well it worked, taking into account whether I gave up using it"? My impression is that it's quite common for an anti-akrasia technique to work well right up to the point where one becomes akratic about actually using it.

Comment author: malcolmocean 11 April 2017 03:07:24PM 0 points [-]

I think that both of those could make sense, but I'm not sure how I'd go about aggregating the scores from that. I would probably use the second one.

Comment author: gjm 11 April 2017 03:12:20PM 1 point [-]

The advantage would be not so much giving you twice as much data to work with, as giving respondents the ability to express their actual experiences. If someone tried something and it worked really well but they soon gave up on it, they may be reluctant to give it either a very high or a very low score, but you might want to treat it as one or other of those.

Comment author: lifelonglearner 10 April 2017 04:35:23PM 0 points [-]

Would it be easier for you to compile responses if we used a survey format (either LW's built-in feature) or Google Forms?

Comment author: malcolmocean 10 April 2017 04:50:15PM 0 points [-]

Easier to compile in some sense, perhaps, but much much less amenable to discussion, and also much less failproof. For example, the 2nd akrasia tactics review stopped getting its responses compiled after a short while, but at least people could still read the comments.

(Hm, maybe it would make sense to pull in some of those?)

Comment author: turchin 18 April 2017 09:32:41PM 0 points [-]

Go to work outside, like in a cafe. +5, but not everyday. Typically I work from home.

Put one task for a day, and promise myself, that I will not end sitting on computer, util it will be finished +7. This task should be first thing in the day, as my brain is much brighter in the morning.

Create a map of a problem I am working on now. It tremendously helps understanding but also it is a form of gamification. +9

Choose the way to procrastinate: reed useful things. +5 (Procrastination is natural need of the brain to rest, I should not fight it).

Giving myself balls for task. Good idea, but can't implement.

Slowly become immersed in the problem until it become really interesting. E.g.: In the beginning it is difficult to read an article on a new topic, but as I do it longer, a get more momentum, and can't stop. In the past I sometimes have been writing my thesis after presentation, as was not able to stop improving it. +7

Cycling nootropics and antidepressants. All of them work for me for a short time. The more I depressed the more I procrastinate. +7

Comment author: turchin 18 April 2017 10:25:22PM 0 points [-]

And the main one: clean only one plate in the sink. (You will most likely will clean all of them too, but you are free to clean only one of them.) +9. Similar to mini habits.

Comment author: erratio 13 April 2017 05:14:06PM *  0 points [-]

I seem to have gotten a lot better lately at getting things done, so here's my attempt at breaking it down.

  • Consistency effects from being responsible for other people/groups: +8, 6 months or so. I am responsible for membership admittance of a private group on Habitica (see below), for reminding a friend to take their meds, and for helping other friends debug their productivity. The overall effect is that a) I get practice at productivity techniques, b) It primes me to be a productive person.

  • Habitica (formerly known as HabitRPG): +4, on and off for 3 years. I'm a member of an active party in this gamification of productivity, which means that if I don't do my dailies, my teammates take damage. Being responsible for membership of a private group means I have to log on regularly anyway, so I might as well use the system. And the combination of daily and to-do lists is good enough for me to track all my tasks and make sure I stay on track (one of my daily tasks is to do at least 1 to-do item).

  • Working from home: +3, 10 months. This might come across as counterintuitive, but when I started working from home I floundered around for the first few months, and then money became an issue and I got better at consistently putting in the work. I'm still not perfect (witness me here instead of working), but I feel like I've improved my ability to get things done in less structured environments and with little to no oversight.

  • Pomodoros: 0, on and off for the last 3 years. I still find them useful occasionally when I'm having major issues getting started on something, but the enforced on/off pattern drives me bonkers. If I'm not getting into the task, 25 minutes on feels like an eternity and 5 minutes off feels much too short of a break. If I am getting into the task, I'll just ignore it altogether. Giving them a zero because I feel like the pros and cons cancel out.

  • Asking people to tell me to work: +1. Another way to convince myself to get started when I just don't wanna, by utilizing peer pressure.

Comment author: maxjmartin 12 April 2017 08:36:00AM *  0 points [-]

Leechblock type browser extensions: 7 points

I simply use an app called Hosts Editor on my phone to map reddit.com to localhost. This instantly broke a habit I had of wasting time on reddit (an activity I generally regret after the fact, but that I still tended to do whenever I had a few spare minutes) and increased the time I spent on reading more interesting content (instapaper, or books). No downsides I have noticed.

Comment author: MaxRa 11 April 2017 10:30:32AM *  0 points [-]

Since one month I do some sort of productivity gamification: I rate my mornings on a 1-5 scale with regard to

1) time spend doing something useful and

2) degree of distraction.

Plus if I get out of bed immediately after waking up, I get a plus point.

For every point that I don't achieve on these scales, I pay 50 cents to a charity.

A random morning of mine:

1) time was well spent, I started working early and kept at it until lunch -> 5/5

2) I had some problems focussing while reading -> 3/5

+1 because I got out of bed immediately

The major noticeable impact it has so far is that I get out of bed in the morning. Plus it gives me a chance to review, e.g. one hypotheses I made on the basis of the example: coffee decreases ability to focus.

Comment author: gjm 10 April 2017 03:48:55PM *  0 points [-]

[A comment that used to be here has been moved to the "meta thread" at OP's request. Please ignore this now. Thank you.]

Comment author: malcolmocean 10 April 2017 04:03:03PM 0 points [-]

(Can you recomment this on the meta thread then delete it? To help keep things organized)

Comment author: gjm 10 April 2017 10:42:14PM 0 points [-]

So far as I know, I can't delete it. I could retract it, but that wouldn't reduce clutter or anything -- it just applies strike-through formatting to all the test. I have put a copy in the meta thread, and I will edit the grandparent of this saying that that's the right place if anyone wants to reply to it.

Comment author: Lumifer 10 April 2017 11:43:36PM 0 points [-]

You can't delete comments that have replies.

If malcolmocean deletes his reply to you, you would be able to delete your comment.

Comment author: malcolmocean 11 April 2017 03:03:35PM 0 points [-]

Well now we're totally screwed I guess.