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Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 17 May 2013 04:04:22AM *  13 points [-]

Geoff Anders' procrastination advice includes a mild extension to 5, namely sometimes you ask yourself why you're doing the task and you legitimately don't have a good reason. In that case, you should wholeheartedly abandon the task instead of procrastinating. This should also happen occasionally.

Comment author: JesseGalef 17 May 2013 04:10:47AM 1 point [-]

Excellent point, thanks! I'd been using this mostly for work projects that I'd already decided were worth doing but found myself procrastinating, but that's a great addendum.

I'm in the process of learning more about Geoff and Leverage's Goal Factoring, so that might help me refine the list (or replace it with something better.)

Comment author: Dorikka 17 May 2013 02:59:53AM 1 point [-]

Thanks for sharing. How long have you been using this?

Comment author: JesseGalef 17 May 2013 03:16:27AM 0 points [-]

You're welcome! I've been using this checklist for a few months, though I've been on the road traveling for much of it. I finally applied the checklist steps to posting the checklist to LessWrong.

I've gone through it enough that I can usually remember each of the 10 steps even when I'm not at my desk. That seems like a good sign that it can carry over to other contexts. (Though I acknowledge that the process of having created it myself probably made it easier for me to remember.)

Comment author: JesseGalef 17 May 2013 02:09:54AM *  20 points [-]

Regarding the music: I found video game soundtracks to be especially perfect - after all, they're designed to be background music. But I think there's more to it than that. I've had years of conditioning such that when I hear the Warcraft II soundtrack I immediately get into a mindset of intense concentration and happiness.

Obviously it depends on your tastes and whether you have attachments to particular video games, but here are my favorites:

(non-video game music that go into the rotation)

10-Step Anti-Procrastination Checklist

32 JesseGalef 17 May 2013 01:59AM

Despite recent strides in my productivity habits, I still catch myself procrastinating at work more often than I'd like.  It's not that I make a conscious decision to put off a project; it just feels as though I wake up 20 minutes later and realize that nothing got accomplished. (Or, to avoid the passive voice and take much-deserved responsibility, I "realize that I haven't accomplished anything".)

I've been looking for techniques to improve, and got a lot out of LukeProg's articles on How to Beat Procrastination and My Algorithm for Beating Procrastination, based on Piers Steel's The Procrastination Equation.

But I also wanted a way to put the principles to use with the lowest activation cost possible.  I can't expect unmotivated future-me to be too cooperative; I need to provide him with an easy path to get in flow.

So! I developed a 10-Step Productivity Checklist, pulling the concepts from Luke's articles and adding a couple points that are important for me.  Now whenever I notice myself being unproductive I have a much easier time following the steps one by one until I get back in a good mindset to work.

Productivity Checklist:

  1. What is the task? Make sure you're going to focus on one thing at a time.

  2. Do you have something to drink? Get yourself some tea, coffee, or water.

  3. Are distractions closed? Shut the door, quit Tweetdeck, close the Facebook and Gmail tabs, and set skype to "Do not disturb."

  4. What music will you listen to inspire yourself to be productive or get in flow? Put on a good instrumental playlist! (I love video game soundtracks, further notes in comments.)

  5. Why are you doing this task?  Trace the value until you feel the benefit.

  6. What are the parts to this task?  Break things down as much as you can, until they're physical actions if possible.

  7. What are some ways to gamify the task?  Try to have fun with it!

  8. What are some rewards you can offer yourself for completing sections of the task? Smiling, throwing your arms up in the air and proclaiming victory, or M&M's all count.

  9. What's an achievable goal for this sitting? Set a reasonable expectation for yourself.

  10. How long will you work until you take a break?  Set a timer and commit to focusing.

Get into flow!

I'd love to hear from you:

  • Whether these are useful
  • Any ideas for good ways to enact these steps
  • Steps that should be added/removed/tweaked
  • Whether there are other posts/resources that you've found valuable

I hope this helps you as much as it's helping me, and that together we can make it even better!

Comment author: Alejandro1 18 March 2013 11:03:36PM 13 points [-]

Most fantasy books might be Gryffindor, but A Game of Thrones? Totally Slytherin.

Comment author: JesseGalef 19 March 2013 04:08:38PM 3 points [-]

My thinking for Game of Thrones belonging to Gryffindor (though at this point it might just be cognitive dissonance, so please let me know if it sounds right) is that the first book - A Game of Thrones - most heavily features Ned Stark, the paragon of honor and principle. I'm wishing that I had put another Song of Fire and Ice book on the Slytherin shelf to show contrast...

Comment author: pinyaka 19 March 2013 12:03:02AM 1 point [-]

Why only chapters 1-17 of HPMOR?

Comment author: JesseGalef 19 March 2013 12:48:06AM 1 point [-]

That's all that's in the printed paperback version that I have - I think Eliezer is working on publishing a more comprehensive volume, but this is all I have.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality Bookshelves

33 JesseGalef 18 March 2013 09:52PM

A while back in the Columbus Rationality group, we started wondering: What books would the Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality houses have in each of their libraries?  We had fun categorizing different subjects:

  • Gryffindor - Combat, ethics, and justice
  • Ravenclaw - Philosophy, cognitive science, and math
  • Slytherin -Influence and power
  • Hufflepuff - Happiness, productivity, and friendship

And so, I found myself taking all my books off their shelves this weekend and picking the best to represent each rationality!House and made them into Facebook cover-image-sized pictures.  Click each image to see it larger, with a list on the left:

(first posted at Measure of Doubt)


I’m always open to book recommendations and suggestions for good fits.  What other books would be especially appropriate for each shelf?

Comment author: JesseGalef 22 December 2011 09:23:09PM 2 points [-]

I'm in! I live in Columbus, so would love a meetup here.

Comment author: JesseGalef 16 November 2011 01:56:31AM 4 points [-]

I'll be at Skepticon - I'm moderating the "death" panel with Eliezer and Julia (and Greta Christina and James Croft)!

From knowing the speakers and backgrounds, I also recommend:

1) Julia's talk "The Straw Vulcan" on the interaction between rationality and emotion, 2) Spencer Greenberg's talk, Self-Skepticism: What the Tools of Science Tell Us About Our Thoughts, Beliefs, and Decisions and 3) Hemant Mehta's "The Need for More Critical Thinking in Math Education"

These, along with my panel, should all be of interest to the rationalist community. See you there!

Comment author: [deleted] 19 October 2011 12:14:18PM 3 points [-]

However, if I were the OP, I think that I would be hurt reading your response. Having put work into a post including original cites and examples, I could easily interpret your post as dismissing mine as inferior or worthless compared to his.

It's pretty much customary on LW to provide links to related articles; doing so shouldn't be interpreted as a dismissal. Though it might be defecting by accident in some other context, that's not really the case here.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Overcoming the Curse of Knowledge
Comment author: JesseGalef 19 October 2011 11:15:58PM 3 points [-]

Thanks for the clarification - this is my first post on LW and wasn't sure how to interpret the "link" comments.

As it was, I'd upvoted them because I appreciate knowing what else I'd probably enjoy reading - there's so much material and it really helps having you guys pointing to relevant articles. It's good to know they're intended that way, and not as admonitions for not already including those links.

Again, everyone, thanks for making me feel welcome!

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