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The Akrasia Effect: Why We Don’t Follow Through on What We Set Out to Do (jamesclear.com)
389 points by melling 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 149 comments

I have a pet theory than the reason people procrastinate, is because they don't concretely identify their future selves, as being the "same person" as their present self. Rather, they view their future self as an abstract person, more akin to a friend, than self. This level of relatedness varies with time as well. People identify very strongly with their future self from tomorrow, perhaps akin to their best friend. But they identify their future self from years/decades later, more akin to a distant cousin.

From this perspective, procrastination becomes analogous to selfishness. A very "altruistic" person would prioritize their future self to the same extent that they would prioritize their present desires. Perhaps even more so. Whereas a more "self centered" person sees their future self as a stranger whose desires are inconsequential to their present selves.

What would be really interesting to consider, is the correlation between "future altruism" and traditional altruism. One can imagine these two being completely uncorrelated, the same way a racist person can be completely uncaring towards other races whilst still being altruistic within their own race. But if there is indeed a stronger correlation, that would be a very interesting finding.

This makes me think somewhat of my current reading... The Ethics of Ambiguity, by Simone de Beauvoir. Although she's talking about our relationships with other people and the world, rather than our relationship with our future selves, there is significant overlap.

She talks about freedom in an existentialist sense. As her partner Sartre noted, we are all free, but freedom is terrifying, so we do all sorts of things to retreat or hide from it. She follows through on the implications of that freedom. One common interpretation of existentialist freedom is that we need only care about ourselves, not others (Nietzsche was a major proponent of this). She points out that this interpretation of freedom can lead to authoritarian, oppressive rule (she was writing in the immediate wake of WWII). So she argues that in order to exercise our freedom, we must use it to defend and exercise the freedom of others as well. To stand by when others are oppressed and lose their freedom (whether from external or internal cause) diminishes our own freedom, and puts our freedom at real risk. Our internal carelessness about the freedom of others leads directly to external risk to our own freedom.

It's a fascinating book. Extremely dense, but beautifully written and motivating. I find myself reading sentences again out loud, just to enjoy them.

I can see her argument easily extended to our relationship with our future selves - decisions we make with our freedom now can have negative impact on our future freedom. ie eat that cake now, still be fat tomorrow.

Just wanted to jump in here to say (with the imperfect authority of an undergrad philosophy major) that your characterization of Nietzsche is very wrong.

A quick google search provided a slightly more nuanced but still absurdly basic view of Nietzsche's view on selfishness from the man himself: "Self-interest is worth as much as the person who has it: it can be worth a great deal, and it can be unworthy and contemptible."

I'd say my characterization lacks nuance. Yes, Nietzsche is greatly caricatured (and this interpretation falls within that), but Simone de Beauvoir's critique of his philosophy and its dangers to freedom are much, much better than this. Nietzsche is a lot better than he's usually given credit for, but there are nonetheless some pretty big gaps in applying his ideas to society.

To be really odd here, I quit reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra to read Simone de Beauvoir instead, and it was a good decision, but I'll get back to all that Superman stuff eventually.

You haven't adequately criticized Nietzsche for the record. So we can't know if this Simone person is up to something.

For the record, I'm not criticizing Nietzsche. I'm saying Simone de Beauvoir criticized Nietzsche in a manner I found interesting enough to remark upon.

"This Simone person" pretty much invented second wave feminism with her book "The Second Sex", and is widely regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. Her work changed the course of history. So yes, she's definitely up to something.


Personal swipes will get you banned here. Please post civilly and substantively, or not at all.


What personal swipe?

"I was trying to extract some substance from you, but now I see that will not be possible."

How is that an insult? He was being ambiguous. Explain to me in detail how is that an insult.

I think the charitable way to interpret your counterparty is that Simone's criticisms of Nietzsche are long, nuanced, and difficult to summarize, and that Nietzsche himself is long, nuanced, and difficult to summarize. It is not worth the effort to do so for either case, especially considering that a partial or failed effort lacks depth and invites criticism (as already demonstrated, but unfairly).

Actually, her criticism of Nietzsche (and most other post-Hegelian philosophers) is brief and relatively easy to summarize, but it is nuanced and deep. It's kind of like Yoda that way. Nietzsche is also practically breezy to read by philosophy standards, but it's still deep and nuanced. Part of the pleasure of both Nietzsche and Simone de Beauvoir is that they're both so darn readable, especially compared to something like Hegel or Heidegger, who were very influential but are incredibly difficult to read.

Fair enough.

Borderline ad hominem is not a strong argument. But I'll try to respond.

First, note that any response will be necessarily shallow and inadequate. I don't know what your level of familiarity is with Nietzsche, but since you didn't know who Simone de Beauvoir is, I assume you know nothing of mid-20th century French existentialism (Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir). My own understanding of Nietzsche is admittedly shallow, but still probably more nuanced than average. I've at least read some of his work, rather than just broadly-misunderstood pithy quotes like "God is dead".

And of course, I'm summarizing in an online comment, for an overtly hostile audience who obviously doesn't understand even the basics of half the equation. So this will probably fail.

Simone de Beauvoir's criticism of Nietzsche, in the context of The Ethics of Ambiguity, arises from her core premise, which is that our own freedom depends on the freedom of others, so we have an ethical obligation to advance the freedom of others in order to make our own freedom meaningful. Now, existentialists view suffering in a couple of different ways. First, there is suffering from constraints on our freedom. This is what older modernist philosophers like Nietzsche generally mean by suffering. Second, there is suffering from awareness of our freedom, which we find frightening. This idea really starts with Sartre's Being and Nothingness, and is a big part of the difference between existentialism and earlier philosophy.

Nietzsche was generally hostile to compassion, finding it indistinguishable from pity most of the time. He believed that freedom comes from overcoming adversity - by defeating constraints to our freedom through struggle. "That which does not kill me makes me stronger". So to help others achieve their own freedom is to risk pity, which is a useless emotion. Letting them overcome (or fail to overcome) their own adversity, without aid, is the best thing to do for others, and adversity is welcome and vital.

So de Beauvoir's criticism of this is that it leads to a situation where it is okay to harm others, to constrain their freedom for our own selfish desires. That's not Nietzsche's intent, but it's nonetheless the outcome. The fact that Nietzsche is so popular with fascists (which he would have found horrifying) lends credence to this point of view.

For more than this, the only answer I have is to read The Ethics of Ambiguity yourself. I highly recommend it. It's relatively short (under 200 pages) and quite beautiful, and very enlightening. It's the perfect companion piece to Sartre's Being and Nothingness, another brilliant and greatly misunderstood work.

A bit more here... de Beauvoir responds to the idea of fear of freedom with a list of personality types that are responses to our natural fear of freedom - the Sub-Man, the Serious Man, the Nihilist, the Adventurer, and others. Now, if you're still kicking back at me for daring to criticize Nietzsche, I'd suggest you're being a Serious Man. The Serious Man deals with fear of freedom by finding something external to himself to elevate to greater importance than himself. The Serious Man is extremely hostile to any perceived criticism of the thing he's serious about - his religion, his political ideology, his nationality, whatever. It's easy to be Serious about Nietzsche, but it's a mistake. It denies you the freedom to understand Nietzsche better, if you can't take the idea that he's being criticized without attacking the critic.

What bordeline ad hominem?

I doubt it's that complex. Occam's razor suggests a simpler explanation: there is discomfort in starting a task, therefore people delay starting that task. It's a pain avoidance strategy, which sounds much more likely than some self-referential, future-self theory.

Correlation of that would seem to be that those who are best at dealing with discomfort are the best at doing tasks - I've found that I'm most productive that its less about being able to overcome discomfort, and more about not having the discomfort in the first place. Fear of failure, of not meeting expectations, etc can be put upon one by ones self and also the community. How do they train soldiers to be "doers" at first? They first break down the ego, and then establish fear and punishment based on NOT doing as ordered, so that it is always the path of least resistance and (internal) discomfort to do what is ordered. If you procrastinate up to the point that you have to pull an all nighter to get something done, thats because your fear of not doing the thing is finally present and overwhelming the discomfort to doing the thing.

Finally, "whipping" or punishing ones self into being uncomfortable in order to do the thing primarily just does damage, and builds resistance to even thinking about the subject. Decrease the discomfort in doing the task (by breaking it down, and visualizing what success will reward you with), increase the discomfort for not doing the task (by putting off immediate rewards and gratification until the task is done), and you can ride down the hill instead of pushing upwards.

Well, why don't we overcome the discomfort? We overcome it for other things. Lack of identification with future-self means we don't see harm our current actions inflict on our future self as harm to ourselves.

Procrastination causes more discomfort in the long term, so without an explanation for why prioritize preventing discomfort now over discomfort later this explanation falls short. That is what GP is attempting to provide.

I think the future-self theory is an attempt to explain the pain-avoidance.

I've heard of one technique to fight akrasia which relies on your theory.

It's an exercise where you contemplate you future self as a friend, whose is immediately benefits from your actions. So if you're trying to not eat an extra serving of cake you imagine your future self as a friend who gets fat when you eat that extra serving.

I'm usually content with very little; just for myself, I wouldn't make a lot of effort to acquire wealth. Future me loves money though. It's not just that future me has interests that require money; future me is getting screwed, by a guy named Anno Domini. Future me is poor, feeble, unhealthy, and unloved. You know, unless I work hard to avoid that. Future me is an entitled bum, but they don't really have anyone else to take care of them, so I do what I can.

Be sure to thank past you whenever it's appropriate.

There is an episode of Roderick on the Line where John Roderick goes on at length describing his relationship with past-John and future-John, and all the woes that past-John has visited upon him, and all the reasons he can't be bothered about future-John's wellbeing.

That reminds me of this Seinfeld bit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-Cz-LK16g4

Massive offtop, sorry about it. I've been noticing this a lot lately.

I have a pet theory than the reason people procrastinate, is because they don't concretely identify their future selves, as being the "same person" as their present self.

What is the purpose of the two commas in this sentence?

I recall reading somewhere that the "correct" way to use two commas, is when the words between the two commas can be omitted from the sentence. I don't follow that rule, as you might have guessed. I personally use periods as a "resting point" in the middle of a sentence. Ie, if I were saying this sentence out loud to an audience, at which points would I pause?

The problem with non-standard usage is that it is confusing.

When I see a comma, I expect it to have a particular meaning. When it doesn't, I assume I misread.

You're welcome to use commas however you like, but know that others will be re-reading your sentences and wishing they didn't have to.

IMO, you are suggesting way more thought than is actually going on in most cases. I think you are right about not identifying with future selves being part of the issue, but I think it is usually just memory, at least when talking about following through with a plan decided previously with significant deliberation. When considering plans in depth we do think about the future and what would be better, but in the moment of making decisions we are usualy involved in something else. I also don't think the article is right that it is usually preferring immediate gratification over long term benefits, but just that doing something towards the previous plan is an intrusion into whatever else we happen to be doing at the time and an interruption of focus or more immediate plans. We then only consider the previous plan superficially and are quick to accept some potential workaround to needing to work on it now (that is, it isn't that we are discounting our future but just not really considering it at all). I've found it helpful to try to notice if something is a potentially significant change to a previous plan and get out of the flow of whatever I am doing and consider it in more depth before actually making a change. Just getting out of the flow briefly when making the decision is enough to actually consider the future and make a good decision about following the previous plan or changing it.

Related philosophical work: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reasons_and_Persons

Reasons and Persons by Derek Parfit

I have a pet theory that procrastination is mostly caused by fear of failure and having two sets of valuations. One overt, reasonable that makes us create plans and one internal, emotional, that makes us not following them because the thing we won't to achieve is worth barely anything in that system.

What helped me get down to deep work was doing away with the nonessentials, i.e. a lot of physical material things, all forms of entertainment, the internet especially, inner clutter like comparing myself to others, etc. Seneca once noted in his Moral letters to Lucilius, “Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.” I found this was applicable to nearly everything: my digital life (think Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism), my physical life (think Henry David Thoreau's Walden), my inner life (think Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet), etc. In short: Getting down to my bare self, helped me get down to deep work.

I feel that when I eliminate forms of entertainment from my life or impose limits I can often go too far and then swing back in the other direction.

Your comment seems to indicate you manage your vices similarly. Do you also recede back into them or has this not been a problem for you?

No, I definitely resort back to entertainment every once in a while. I wouldn't go as far to call it a problem though. I suppose entertainment in low doses is fine but entertainment as the main staple of our diet is no good. In terms of deep work, I think it's important to see the side of spectrum of how entertainment only exists to stimulate a neurological response. For instance, think about always refreshing a site we are particularly fond of when we know implicitly that we should not be doing that and we should be doing something else. But hey, it's increasingly hard do so, especially now when technology is growing exponentially. There's no doubt it's difficult, we know that. It takes real mental fortitude. But this is where doing away with the nonessentials comes into play - when you do so, what's left is us, face to face with what we have to do. If anything above makes sense.

All this talk about entertainment reminds me of David Foster Wallace on Entertainment Culture: https://tonyreinke.com/2018/03/05/david-foster-wallace-on-en...

A few good bits:

> "It just, I guess my point is, right now and I think the next 15 or 20 years are going to be a very scary and sort of very exciting time when we have to sort of reevaluate our relationship to fun and pleasure and entertainment because it’s going to get so good, and so high pressure, that we’re going to have to forge some kind of attitude toward it that lets us live."

> "what it’s going to be like and what sort of resources we’re going to have to cultivate in ourselves and in our citizenry to keep from sort of dying on couches. I mean, maybe that sounds silly, but the stuff’s going to get better and better and better and better and it’s not clear to me that we, as a culture, are teaching ourselves or our children what we’re going to say “yes” and “no” to."

How would you define 'entertainment'? Is it simply something that distracts from 'work' being done? Or, time spent on something from which no 'value' can be obtained?

I personally think of entertainment as something that's enjoyable but doesn't directly advance my goals at getting better at something I prioritize. Which means entertainment is different for different people. Most people would regard movies and TV as entertainment, but for a journalist or critic, it might not be. Obviously this is on a spectrum, where binge watching TV could be pure entertainment, but playing volleyball casually would have a physical component that would add additional value, even if you're not looking to improve at volleyball.

Also want to state that I don't think entertainment is a bad thing, no one can go 100% all the time. I do think it's important to think about what we do with our time and make that choice honestly.

I once looked into reading some of DFW's books after reading some essays related to some of his ideas, but something along the way stopped me, I think it might have been that I didn't get the sense that his books and the ideas within were as directly pragmatic as the essays I'd read, but were instead far more abstract. Do you think this assessment was wrong, and if so could anyone recommend a big that doesn't use a metaphorical approach too much?

And I will also piggyback another question I had with respect to this article: does anyone know a "pro-sumer" level router that has awesome access control capabilities, so I can easily blacklist a collection of websites? I know there are some alternatives for the desktop, but I didn't find anything I liked, and I want blockage at the router level, but there's no way I'm going to get into standing up a pi-hole box or anything remotely as complicated as that.

I'm pretty sure most Netgear routers have OpenDNS interactions that you can use to block domains. At least my Nighthawk did.

Otherwise I think you can pay for an OpenDNS account.

Good thing you aren't entertained by your work, or you would certainly be a lost soul.

Did you actually stop paying for internet? It's something I've been thinking about. Were any parts surprising difficult?

No, I have not. But that's definitely something to think about. It would certainly be nice. You ever hear about how it's better to study at a library rather than at home? That's certainly a good case with work but may also be a good case with using the internet - you know, do everything we have to do internet-related elsewhere (like at a dedicated WeWork desk). Then our home is more like an actual home, I think. If that's what you were trying to get at. Otherwise, I would definitely love to hear why you have been thinking about doing so.

No, same vein. I think I would waste much less time if I had no access to Internet at home, mostly because when I'm bored or tired, instead of turning to Netflix/Youtube/Reddit/etc I'd have to find something else to entertain myself. It could turn out I'd end up finding something equally mindless, but my suspicion is I'd read more books. As you said, for when I do the internet, I could simply find a library or cafe.

What's hard for me to anticipate though is how much harder it would be to do things like shopping, or the occasional video call into a meeting.

Unfortunately doesn't work for me, as I can't unplug one of my main sources of entertainment: my brain. HN and such can be occasionally distracting, but if I'm truly procrastinating, even four blank walls will do, as I'll just space out.

I think the design your future actions is a big part of this.

I've had some success with framing two modes, Architect Mode and Implementation Mode.

Architect Mode is when you sit down and make a plan to achieve a long term challenging goal (losing a lot of weight, getting in shape, learning something new, etc.). It's where you set up a routine and plan for what you're specifically going to do each day in order to do this. Being able to separate this plan from when you're actually enacting it is important because it removes the choice and doesn't allow comparisons of an immediate reward with an abstract distant reward.

Implementation Mode has to follow what was set up by the architect and is not allowed to make decisions - this is because you're compromised and unreliable when comparing an immediate reward (do I eat that slice of cheesecake?) to a long term abstract reward and it's very easy to rationalize why what you want to do is actually okay (it's only an extra 400 calories anyway - today can be a cheat day etc.).

A big part of succeeding with implementation is stacking success (doing the thing every day without missing any day) and picking a small enough starting point. Another is not putting yourself in positions where you're easily tempted to fail (don't buy oreos and have them in the house). Once you get more in the rhythm of things you are safer in more difficult environments.

When Implementation mode fails it means the architect needs to reevaluate why and make changes - it doesn't help to ruminate or beat yourself up about the failure.

Even with this mindset things are difficult, but I've found it to be the most successful for long term goals when they're clearly defined - most of it is getting the psychology right - then the behavior can follow.

Love this. Especially this part:

When Implementation mode fails it means the architect needs to reevaluate why and make changes

Every plan I've ever put together to improve myself or my life has failed on initial implementation. It wasn't until I expected the first iteration of the plan to fail that I learned how to succeed.

Plan. Fail. Tweak. Retry. The goal usually doesn't need to change, but the plan often does.

Yeah - I agree, I think we're working with hardware that has biological rewards training us to do things we may not want to over a long time horizon. Separating architect/implementation allows you to plan free of the pull of the immediate reward. Accepting failure as part of the process and recognizing that it's not impossible to succeed seems like a big piece of getting the mindset right.

We can overcome these issues, but it's not an easy thing to do.

"Reduce friction to start" is a huge one for me. Especially if "starting" is a bunch of busywork like writing a Dockerfile, initializing a git repo, creating package metadata files, etc. I've found it helpful to just dive in and start writing the "fun" part first and turn it into a "real" project later. Usually after an hour of coding or less I feel I've created something of value that I want to save and reuse so there's no motivational problem.

Yes, and the essay missed a related point that I've found to be really valuable: reducing the scope of the project is a great way to reduce the starting friction.

So, if I need to build a new application or work on a home improvement project, and I plan in advance the entire scope of the project, all the way out to the end some number of weeks or months from now, starting it requires more commitment and becomes more daunting.

But if instead I chunk it down into smaller, self-contained tasks, those tasks are maybe a day's worth of work individually and not so bad. I can start one in the morning and feel better about the state of things by the afternoon.

yes, I can relate to this 100%. That's why I have become a huge fan of using Vagrant in (my) tutorials. Just clone and type "vagrant up" and everything is installed and ready to jump right into coding. I love coding, I almost loathe config and admin stuff (especially if installing doesn't work arrr)

That has always been the biggest turn off for me as well. Setting up everything takes too long and I like just jumping straight into the project.

My gym is right behind my desk, I have 0 excuses to workout almost everyday

I really like the online code repls, where you can save and execute snippets. Nice for maintaining a list of 'scratchpad' projects and can easily share them with non-technical friends or just test an algorithm without having to set up anything.

I think http://repl.it is my favorite so far, but a lot of cool ones are popping up recently.

I've been using https://codesandbox.io/ pop up a lot. Repl has always been my favorite as well for other backend languages

My goto will always be codepen though if its purely frontend. It just has the nicest UX interface and works really well.

Funny thing about codepen is I also use it as a CDN too.

I'll grab my compiled single CSS file from my main github repo, and paste it into a new codepen file. Then on a new codepen, I'll link that CDN codepen so I can isolate and make a webcomponent, while still adhering to my original CSS. I use the commit# / merge# to keep track between the main git repo VS the codepen CDN file

Could you elaborate more on your workouts? And how well it’s working out?


There's a few things to note about myself though. I couldn't do a girly pushup in college. My beginner gains ended up on what most people's beginner gains start at. I can do a full pullup and dip now, but I couldn't previously in the last year. So my gains aren't really all that crazy impressive but I've been noticing a lot of incremental gains in the last few months.I still have issues controlling my dietary plans though.

- This is what I used to look like ~7 years ago https://i.imgur.com/jtbidKK.png.

- This is me climbing the italian/swiss dolemites ~1 year ago https://i.imgur.com/YThLh7u.png

Anyways, this is my routine that works fairly well for me



My gym is behind my desk. I use a ironmaster superbench as my full gym. I use this chinup attachment as well

- https://www.amazon.com/Ironmaster-Super-Bench-Adjustable-wei....

- https://www.amazon.com/Ironmaster-1007-Chin-Up-Attachment/dp...

I use 90lb adjustable powerblock weights

- https://www.amazon.com/PowerBlock-Elite-5-90-Silver-Stand/dp...

I don't have space for a olympic bar or powerracks


- Here's my whole gym, its messy https://i.imgur.com/WasHSdk.png

- Here's an angle of my gym and treadmill desk https://i.imgur.com/IXgouwd.jpg

- Here's vertical view of my gym and desk https://i.imgur.com/f0VtDwv.jpg



I use reddit's recommended routine bodyweight fitness as a starting point. https://www.reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness/wiki/kb/recommend.... ... I've done 5x5, 5/3/1, I used to follow it rigorously, but I find either it was too tiring to enjoy or just too hard to remember what exercise to do on what day.

This is what I use, I keep stuff simple. I use PPL (push pull legs) on a 3 day rotation.

- 1 day is legs / abs / form workouts (LEGS)

- 1 day is upperback / biceps (PULL)

- 1 day is chest, triceps, shoulders (PUSH)

I completely ignore working out on certain days like Monday for LEGS, Tuesday for PULL, etc. Because my schedule is kind of really varied, I just make sure I finish a full PPL before going onto the next PPL

For instance, if I do PUSH, I'll make sure I do PULL and LEGS on the following days. It could be over the next 2 days or next 5 days, depending on my schedule. Then I repeat back to PUSH.

I try to workout at least once every 3 days though

I aim for every workout to be 40 minutes long. This is from the start of warmup to the end with post foam roller massages. I usually hit this consistently.

I aim to do a grand total of 9 sets total max per workout day.



### WARMUP (applies to all workouts)

The first part of my routine is usually popping open anime / youtube / TV show. I usually prefer these videos to be 20 minutes long ,because that's roughly how long all 9 sets of rest periods total up too. This way I can be entertained while working out. Its a way to reward myself for putting hard work

The other alternative is to fire up rocketleague.

I have these habits intentionally because it baselines my psyche & adrenaline level when I go workout, so I have more consistent results

First 5 minutes I'll do some light jogging on my treadmill desk. Usually, 2.6 mph is what I find to be enjoyable

After that, I will start doing 3 light warmup sets with 1min30sec breaks inbetween

- PUSH -> On push day, I will just do standing pushup on my standing desk. Wide grip, diamond grip, and then shoulder presses with 3 lb dumbbells to practice deep forms.

- PULL -> On pull day, I will just take a rope, loop it around my adjustable bench. I will do standing rows, and then assisted pullups with my legs

- LEGS -> On leg day, I will do pike walks and L-sets as my warmups


On the workout itself, my pushday is 9 sets total. It looks like this:

- 3 sets of chests, following chest progession - https://www.reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness/wiki/exercises/pu...

- 3 sets of triceps, following dip progression - https://www.reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness/wiki/exercises/di...

- 3 sets of shoulders, following handstand progression & pike pushups. I use paralletes though - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnQU_lLBFW0


On the workout itself, my pushday is 9 sets total. It looks like this:

- 3 sets of outter upperback, following pullup progression - https://www.reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness/wiki/exercises/pu...

- 3 sets of inner upperback, following row progession - https://www.reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness/wiki/exercises/ro...

- 2 sets of biceps, usually dumbbell concentration curls / hammer curls -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MM3REno4u6U


Leg day, I don't have a olympic or squat bar. I don't actually do 9sets on leg day, I just do 6 sets + whatever I feel like afterwards.

- 3 sets of hamstrings / quads - I use a TRX suspension band similar to this, but I have 35+ dumbbells in each hand - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bmjTIyi7sI


After workout I do foam roller massages on that body part. This way I have faster recovery times



I log each set I do throughout the workout.

I don't use fancy apps. I am really lazy. I find that since I workout frequently enough, I'll know what where I'm at in terms of progress generally, because I'll have logged how much weight I used in previous workouts. Usually I won't change weights until at least 2 PPL cycles anyhow

I use a moleskin journal. Each page is divided up as follows

- Top of page = Legs

- Middle of page = Pull

- Bottom of page = Push

This is what 2 full PPL cycles look like. https://i.imgur.com/IeR1UJW.png

I use a journal mostly to just keep track of which workout I need to do. So I don't accidentally skip out on any specific exercise

I don't bother doing data analytics or use fancy spreadsheets. Just too lazy, it adds 0 value in the long run anyhow.

Really I should just be taking more video shots from early progression stages but I haven't which is a bummer. But I've been taking regular selfies though for progression updates


I use vanilla whey isolate + 50% soymilk original flavor + 50% water. It actually tastes pretty good and has low carbs / high protein, with fairly balanced nutritional content. Doesn't cost that much either

This is kind of like my soylent in the morning for breakfast as well

I'm on a cut-phase right now, I usually drink a lot more water to reduce my apetite.

When I bulk I take creatine and have to creatine load myself for a few days.


I can't find the source, but there was an article on reddit detailing which fitness instructors were considered the most authoritative. Based on science and experience in shaping other's people's fitness goals. The gist I got off of it is that stretching is wasted oppurtunity cost and that doing light sets based on what muscle group you will work out is much better, as a warmup. Since you work on better form too.

I chose only to do 9sets at most per day because I think having anything over that adds too much friction to workout everyday.

I did not do any fullbody workout routines like https://www.reddit.com/r/bodyweightfitness/wiki/kb/recommend... verbatim, because that's too tiring for me. 3 full body workouts in a week will leave you really sluggish and tired all the time. Its good for starting off, but when you plateau its better off doing other routines later. I usually found following those routines that stated it was 40-60 minutes long, to be actually 1hr30min long on average. Some days I couldn't hit it consistently due to my busy schedule or lack of sleep, so it was really hard to upkeep.



In summary

- I workout at least once every 3 days

- I follow a PPL (push pull legs) routine

- I flatout don't care what day it is

- I do 9 sets max a day

- I do 3 lightsets to warmup preventing injuries

- I do post muscular foam roll massage to prevent further injuries

- I baseline my psyche and adrenaline level by watching TV and playing rocketleague

- I usually finish watching a 20 min TV show in 40 mins of working out all at the same time

- Workouts are guaranteed to be 40 mins or less, from warmup, 9sets, cleanup, and post-muscle massage

- My gym is next to my desk so there's 0 reason for me to workout almost daily.

- I think micro-iterations of workout is better in the long run

- I log all my workout logs in a moleskin journal. 1 page = 3 days of workout = 1 PPL cycle

Akrasia and Enkrateia remind me of the dual nature of humans that St. Paul describes in Romans:

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7:14-25

Paul is writing here about the battle between a person's moral ideals and how their desires conflict and often overrun those ideals, admitting that even he is a hypocrite who does things he otherwise condemns.

I like how procrastination is discussed in forums like HN. We can recognize it as something keeping us from our goals, but can also empathize with each other in failing to master it. This is how I see the early church's approach to sin in St. Paul's era, or at least that was the point he was making in Romans.

In the same way, we can combat procrastination as a community by sharing our stories and providing the insight to overcome it. This is my favorite part of community, be it in church or on HN or elsewhere.

The only problem is that I am procrastinating by being on HN, and if I read about combating procrastination here then I can even fool myself into thinking I'm doing something useful.

Yeah, I definitely hear that. It's very easy to fool yourself into believing that something is helpful when it's not.

That said, I've definitely gotten a ton of benefit from reading HN. It's a great resource for discovering new tech, startups, research, and many other things. If you find part of it beneficial, maybe you should work it into your daily plan/schedule/checklist or however you might organize the productive parts of your day. Put it after a high-friction task, something you have trouble starting. Then reading HN is like a reward for completing that high-friction task.

Then you can contribute what you learned to a blog post or comment thread on HN, thus perpetuating the community.


It's easy (or at least easier) to be open and honest about our faults and failures when no one is telling us we'll burn in eternal damnation for them.

That's not really a thing in Christianity, Jesus had that whole "let he without sin cast the first stone" thing or whatever it was

> Jesus had that whole "let he without sin cast the first stone" thing or whatever it was

That didn't contradict eternal punishment in Hell for unrepentant sinners, it was just one of many ways Jesus conveyed the message of “stop usurping God's role by judging and punishing everyone else's sins—which is a sin itself—and focus on stopping and atoning for yours, because it's the right thing to do and, also, eternal hellfire.”

It depends on which sect and tradition of Christianity, there's a lot in the south eastern USA that preach about fire and brimstone like that. They don't usually go on about specific people, but people in general so they're skirting the whole without sin thing. I remember in particular a number of Southern Baptist preachers that were like this. I can't say that it's their chosen doctrine since I was never a Southern Baptist nor have I studied anything around it, but they were always prevalent where I grew up (middle of nowhere North Carolina).


It may not have a thing for Jesus, or the Bible, but it's very much a thing for Christianity.

Yet another illustration of the fundamental divergence of that institution from its origins.

> but it's very much a thing for Christianity

I wonder if you might explain what exactly you mean by this, and to what degree you believe it is a thing.

And to be very, very clear: I'm asking this absolutely sincerely. Not in a clever or trolling manner, but rather, I am asking in an epistemological sense.

I grew up in a couple different Christian traditions, and have known and spoken about this question with people with backgrounds, and/or who currently worship in many others. I have friends and family who follow every denomination from Catholic, to Lutheran, to Evangelical, between, and beyond.

The notions of Hell and damnation not uncommon, though certainly not universal, in the practice of Christianity, particularly among the laity.

Doctrinally, it's less overt, especially among the more liberal traditions, but even there (I'm specifically thinking of Episcopalian and Methodist lineages, here), it's not unheard of.

EDIT: ...in my experience.

I think the general theme is going to be ever-present in any Christian religious teachings, but in your experience, do you feel like "heavy emphasis" was put on that particular idea, and especially as a motivating factor for controlling behavior or allegiance....as a tool to manipulate?

And if it isn't confidential, the people you're familiar with, is that restricted to a fairly tight geographical region, or quite spread out? I'm wondering if perhaps it is the case that there are somewhat distinct regional flavors of religious teaching. If this was the case, with a generally more mobile populace, families often tending to live further apart, one would expect this to decrease over time, especially with young people who've moved away from family, although any number of things could cause a change in younger generations.

How overtly employed varies widely, but yes; generally I did and do see it as a tool of control. That the notion is so widespread gives it social proof, so however contrary to doctrine or scripture it might be, it drives our behavior at a far deeper level.

As for your second question, there's a significant subset of my sample population that's moderately geographically bound (Plains and Upper Midwest), but I have people of faith from all over, including internationally, in my social graph, and see some variation on the notion almost across it.

I agree that as people spread out, the phenomenon tends to diminish. Research has shown that a profoundly effective mechanism for combatting insular beliefs is exposure to people who don't share them. Not enough people do that to meaningfully combat the phenomenon, though; something over half of Americans have never left the country, and the median distance adult Americans live from their mother is, IIRC, under 20 miles.

As well, people who move out of places where Hell is more of a thing may lose the belief, some, but many of them are probably leaving because they don't share the belief, to whatever degree, and people who move to those places might already believe it themselves, or may face a group that's selected, positively or negatively (by people leaving) for holding it.

> It may not have a thing for Jesus, or the Bible

It absolutely was, though. For the Bible, at least, including, in the Bible, Jesus specifically (it's not like we have independent contemporaneous authority besides the Bible on what Jesus said or believed.)

I despise religions as the next man, but they are as popular as they are for a reason: they usually include collections of practical strategies to achieve your goals in life, which actually work very well for a lot of people. The most skilful ones have accumulated millennia of empirical testing and refinements.

There is a lot of top-notch “self-help” advice buried in religious teachings, if you can ignore the superstitious and moralistic aspects. It took me decades to understand it, because I grew up hating secular bureaucracies spawned by religion (which are, more often than not, primarily interested in their own survival and as useful as the next bureaucracy - i.e. not at all).

I wish I could find a book doing with the practices of organised religion what Joseph Campbell did with myth and storytelling.

These norms and best practices don't spawn from religion. They come from human civilization. Many happen to be encoded in religions, but they're not "only" encoded in religions.

Most (all?) of the useful "self help" is available elsewhere, as common knowledge or encoded into social norms or pushed by other organizations (e.g. sports or boy/girl scouts or whatever).

My point is that there's no special knowledge to be found in religions and I'm happy to recommend ignoring them, since they tend to be full of more bad than good.

An eternal hell fire is Greek/Roman mythology, it was only merged with Christianity because of the Roman Catholic Church. The bible never says anywhere people burn forever.

There are numerous statements about death being like sleep, and a second death being permanent and you are just gone, no torture.

One metaphorical story sort of implies one person was burning, so I think that is why people think it's from the bible.

> An eternal hell fire is Greek/Roman mythology, it was only merged with Christianity because of the Roman Catholic Church.

No, it's actually (a version of) the Jewish myth of Gehenna [0], and it's incorporated into Christianity because it is referenced directly in the Bible, both the general named myth as a place people are cast for punishment (many times, in all three synoptic Gospels plus James) and the specific equation with it being a place of unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43).

[0] which may at some point and in some details have been influenced by Greco-Roman mythology, but had quite a long history within pre-Christian Judaism, arising out of references to it as a specific physical place where child sacrifice by fire occurred in the Hebrew Bible.

Judaism has no hell, ask any religious Jew. (I know a few and have had this very discussion with them.) Ghenna was a burning trash heap, not a place of torment. Death is a silencing end, not a torturous punishment in the bible, including the teachings used by the Jews.


Also, christian Churches don't teach Jewish theology, they teach a version of Catholisim, and eternal burning hell fire of punishment is found in the Vatican's own Catechism of the Catholic Church.

"1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."615 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs."


This is a purely Catholic teaching, and other branches of Christianity, derive many of their myths from the Greeks:



The bible is clear that when you die, you are either asleep, like King David was (Jesus referenced his bones) or burned up and gone forever, the lake of fire from Revelations.

> Judaism has no hell, ask any religious Jew.

Not all historical variations of Jewish religious beliefs that existed near the time of the birth of Christianity still exist as Jewish beliefs, but, AFAICT, the Jewish belief of at a minimum something like a Purgatory is still active; the concept of hell/Gehenna explicit in the Gospels as a place of punishment reflected (possibly an evolution from) a then-current (but not at all universal) Jewish religious belief related to the one that remains current in some branches of Judaism.

> Ghenna was a burning trash heap, not a place of torment.

This idea appears to be a medieval Jewish invention. It was, again, specifically in the Hebrew scriptures, a place where children were sacrificed by fire by non-Jews.

> Also, christian Churches don't teach Jewish theology

No, they teach Christian theology, but Christian theology didn't, as whole, arise ex nihilo with the formation of Christianity as a distinct religious community, it evolved, in many specifics, from Jewish theology that existed where and when Christianity emerged.

> they teach a version of Catholisim,

Well, no. It's true that most (but not all) now-existing branches of Christianity diverged at some point from the Church that was institutionalized in Rome in the same way that Christianity itself diverged from Judaism; to claim, then, that they teach “a version of Catholicism” is true only in the exact same way as saying that they teach a version of Judaism is.

> and eternal burning hell fire of punishment is found in the Vatican's own Catechism of the Catholic Church.

It's found in the Gospel of Mark (9:43); from the KJV:

“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched”

And also in Revelation (20:10):

“And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

I'm pretty sure the authors of the Gospel and the Revelation weren't inspired by theological developments that would occur after the institutionalization of Roman Catholicism.

> The bible is clear that when you die, you are either asleep, like King David was (Jesus referenced his bones) or burned up and gone forever, the lake of fire from Revelations

This is phenomenally wrong: the Bible uses lots of different and superficially conflicting images of afterlife states, and the lake of fire of Revelation is explicitly one of eternal torment at least for some.

>Mark (9:43) ...into the fire that never shall be quenched"

It doesn't say they will still be alive, just burned to death. Many other scriptures confirm a permanent death, none say everlasting torment.

>Revelation (20:10): “And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

It says the "devil" and the beast and the false prophet will tormented, but no one else is listed here.

In Rev 22:18,19 and Deut 4:2 have strict warnings about adding to or taking away words from the bible.

I would completely support a statement that these scriptures "strongly imply" or even "seem to imply", but they certainly do not state plainly that people will go to the classical hell taught by many today.

> It says the "devil" and the beast and the false prophet will tormented, but no one else is listed here.

The mentioned devil and beast may or may not be, but the false prophet is a person so this:

> I would completely support a statement that these scriptures "strongly imply" or even "seem to imply", but they certainly do not state plainly that people will go to the classical hell taught by many today.

Is only correct in the sense that the classical hell is an amalgam of images of Sheol/Hades, Gehenna, the Revelations lake of fire, Tartarus, and definitely other places/outcomes that don't have proper names mentioned in parables, etc., and not directly tied to one single image in the Bible, and the Bible never explicitly says all of these are the same place. But it's absolutely the case that the Bible explicitly and literally says that people in some number n where n ≥ 1 will be punished in everlasting fire, which is the point that was in dispute.

It doesn't explicitly state that the "false prophet" will "burn forever", only the fire itself burns forever.

There are many verses worded is ways that are non-specific, and if you take other scriptures into account as well, it's plain no human is condemned to eternal torment. For example the idea of a mass resurrection, it's contradictory to be both resurrected to life and be in hell forever. (or to be in heaven and resurrected back to earth)

If you want to make an exception for this one person (false prophet), I would easily give in and willing to admit it's possible (what do I know accept what is written?).

Then the elephant in the room is metaphor. If we are going to be literal with every verse, then even the ones where Jesus says "this is a parable" must be questioned. (lots of contradictions come from this)

If we are going to accept there is metaphor, now we get to arguing which verses are metaphors and which aren't, now it's pure opinion (or educated opinion). And then what is the point of discussing any further?

I ascribe to "educate on facts, debate on opinion", the second of which I feel is almost never useful.

> It doesn't explicitly state that the "false prophet" will "burn forever", only the fire itself burns forever.

No, it says the devil and the beast and the false prophet will be “tormented forever and ever” in the lake of fire. Explicitly, the punishment is eternal, not just the fire itself.

> There are many verses worded is ways that are non-specific, and if you take other scriptures into account as well, it's plain no human is condemned to eternal torment.

That's...far from plain. It's certainly a possible conclusion that, while not without problems, isn't particularly less tenable as a resolution of some of the surface contradictions as others.

> For example the idea of a mass resurrection, it's contradictory to be both resurrected to life and be in hell forever.

It's not contradictory to be resurrected and then thrown into Hell, which is exactly what happens in the second resurrection in Revelation. (Equating the lake of fire with Hell, of course.)

Now, unlike the devil, beast, and false prophet, we aren't explicitly told that those in the second resurrection are “tormented forever and ever”, only that they are thrown into the lake of fire, after which the narrative shifts to other topics. So, sure, the text, read literally, admits the possibility that they get only a finite experience of torment, but that's not the natural interpretation, especially in light of the parallel of the two resurrections in Revelation to the two eternal outcomes foretold in Daniel.

But, in any case, my point isn't that the proper interpretation of the Bible involves any particular prevalence of eternal punishment, but merely that the upthread claim that the idea of eternal punishment in a lake of fire in Christianity comes from Greco-Roman mythology by way of Catholic theology and not from the text of the Bible is not correct; the idea is—whether or not it is the best interpretation when viewing the Bible holistically—grounded directly in descriptions in the Bible, including quite literal ones.

>No, it says the devil and the beast and the false prophet will be “tormented forever and ever” in the lake of fire. Explicitly, the punishment is eternal, not just the fire itself.

Yes, death "forever", never to come back from it. It doesn't say "screaming forever in pain". The contrast to this is death where people come back from it at some point. (see Jesus resurrection, Laserus, the dry bones valley, Paul's defence in the courts, etc...)

There is no "torture forever" in the bible for people, their punishment is "death forever".

-"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

The subject is "the devil", who is cast into the lake of fire. The location is described as "where the beast and the false prophet [are]". But the word "are" isn't in the verse, it's "implied". And then finally "shall be tormented." Who is tormented? The devil.

The beast and false prophet are not the subject, and it doesn't say they are "alive in the lake" it says where they were already thrown. It doesn't say they are being tormented, it says the devil is.

I know you can read that sentence in a different way, but if you do, you must conclude there's no such thing as a resurrection, and believe there is an immortal soul and various other things that contradict.

Here's a comparison of many translations, they don't all agree. And this is the one single verse in the entire bible that people can use to say there is an ever burning hell, and it's vague and not consistently translated.


King David "slept" (didn't go to heaven or a burning hell) (1 Kings 2:10) and this confirmed in Act 2:29-

-"...the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day."

Then later of King David, called "a man after God's own heart" did not go to heaven, Act 2:34-

-"For it was not David who ascended into heaven..."

There is no immortal soul, anyone thrown in the lake of fire (besides the devil I guess) dies, eternally, never to be resurrected.

Matt 10:28 "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

Eternal death of the body and soul is what hell/gehenna is, not torment forever, simple death. Just like no one has gone to live in heaven (accept Jesus of course), no one has gone to live in hell. When people die, they turn back into the dirt, and are asleep just like King David, waiting for the resurrection. (at least that is what is written)

where their worm shall never die..

"Worm", not person/soul (or whatever word for human).

As much as I feel it would have ended many religious debates if the bible had been written more clearly, there are some things that just aren't there.

Where in Greek/Roman mythology do you find an eternal hell fire? That sounds very surprising to me...

Dante's Inferno is a good place to start, but I am looking up the Catholic teachings I have read about in the past... (edit: refer to comment above, no need for me to copy/paste it twice)


How does Dante, who placed all the Greeks and Romans in the first circle of hell (for being non-Christian) lend any plausibility to this idea being present in Greek/Roman mythology? And in fact the article you linked makes no such claim.

Useful things for those in the struggle...

Deep Work, by Cal Newport. An excellent book on how to work on really big ideas/projects effectively, without losing your humanity in the process. This is a must-read for anyone serious about work.

Pomodoro Technique. This is well-documented with lots of apps and tools online, but it's pretty simple. Set a 25 minute timer. Work, without interruption, for 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, do not-work for 5 minutes - exercise, web surf, whatever. When that timer goes off, set another 25. It's nice because it does the boundary stuff this article talks about in a manageable way. It's not "I'm going to work hard all week", but rather "I'm going to work hard for 25 minutes".

Deep Work is maybe the first book I wanted to through out of the window in a long time. The complete book can be resumed in a sentence: "Secure big chunks of time to reach and be in the flow state".

But of course you cannot write a full book out of one sentence, so it repeats itself until it achieves to contradict itself by telling you that if you are a writer/journalist you can achieve the state of flow in chunks of 10 minutes spread over the day and happily switch tasks.

So, no, really, you can save yourself this book.

Contrariwise, I just read and loved Deep Work: it's made me more purposeful about directing my attention, and aware of how my environment and lower desires work against this focus.

The journalistic model of doing deep work does seems different than the others, but he's not recommending it, just pointing out that there are outliers who can train themselves to reach intense focus states quickly and do deep work in short periods of time. Not sure why this would bother you -- if it doesn't apply to you, ignore it!

I felt like there was a ton of value here. Recommended for all!

Glad it helped you! In my case, as I was already exposed to the concept of being in the flow[0] while coding and the basic rule of reserving the biggest chunk of time to my most long term or important work in my day, it was a waste of time.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

I had the opposite experience. In general most self-help books do what you describe, but I thought Deep Work went into quite some detail on how to actually achieve it.

For instance the idea of how you deal with short moments of boredom in general (also outside of work) has a lot of influence on how good you are at ignoring distractions during work was an eye opener for me, and goes deeper than "secure big chunks of time to reach and be in the flow state".

Learning to tolerate boredom again has been a real eye-opener for my own sense of self.

I'm glad to have read your comment. I almost thought of buying the book.

I read "So good they can't ignore you" from the same author and was really underwhelmed by it. It came across as repetitive and formulaic (i.e. have some basic principle, then interview interesting people who employ this principle somehow).

I agree with the GP. The book just went round and round on the same topic. You'll be better off reading a summary on Blinkist or elsewhere.

Any programmers here use pomodoro? I expect 25 minute interruptions would do more harm than good for my focus when writing code, especially the continuous expectation that I will be interrupted. I don’t have a pressing interest in finding productivity tips, just curious to hear about programmers who have tried this technique

I did use it for a while, because I had issues starting to work. It helped with that but like you said, 25m were not enough and the interruptions got quite annoying. I tried a 45m/10m work/pause ratio instead and it was a bit better, but I don't really use pomodoro anymore. It helped me to form a "habit of starting" though.

I think this is key. Used to do it, then didn't need it!

I use pomodoro but with 45 mins instead of 25. I am usually tuned to deep focus playlist on YouTube/Spotify. In the five minutes, I listen to my current favorites song for full five minutes. Every day I aim for 10 pomodoros. Earlier I was able to do 3-4 and was left unmotivated. Now I have been able to crush 10+ everyday for last eight days.

25 mins is too short for certain types of work. I find 45-50 mins of work with 10-15 min breaks works the best for me. Starting with 25 minutes is mentally easier when you are first starting a task and then once you get the hang of it you can adjust. Sometimes I would go longer because I was really in the zone.

I did pomodoro for about a month once. It was actually helping a lot. I think I got lazy after a while and stopped doing the entire stop-watch thing, thinking I would continue doing it by just looking at the clock.

I think I will try pomodoro again today and see if I can get back that juicy tomato timer goodness.

I have more or less the same experience.

I used tomato-timer.com. It’s really good.

What I've found in using the technique is that anything lost in focus is more than made up for by insights gained during the break.

Taking your eyes off of a problem for a short time can often help you return to it with a different mindset / approach.

I tried it and had that issue. Usually break time would happen while I really needed to keep my train of thought. Now I just try to do things in smaller sessions when possible and test often. While tests are running I go for a walk.

However, I have found it to be really nice for my Japanese language study. When I come back after a break I feel any new words or concepts I was learning have solidified a little better than if I were to just keep going.

I've found that pomodoro solves two problems.

First, 25 minute is a small, non-frightening investment of time that you CAN do; so it facilitates starting an activity.

Second, since 25 minutes is indeed a short span, the clock usually stops before you have completed the activity (meaning that you know what to do next) and also before you are tired. So after a little rest it is also easy to start another pomodoro. And so on. You keep momentum.

:raises hand: I use it!

If you have no problem with focus, perhaps you don't need it.

I've found it useful at my work (consulting/team lead) where I'm expected to be somewhat responsive to email/slack. Rather than leaving Slack/email open (rookie move, I know), I use Pomodoro (currently at 45/5) just to remind me to open them, check for new stuff, and then close them again for my next chunk of work.

I use pomodoro and find it helps my productivity more than hinder it. Mind you I show signs of ADHD (working w/ a doc to get a diagnosis now) so pomodoro might no be for everyone but I find it allows me to slice out some time to really focus and not let myself get distracted.

When time is of the essence I simply skip the 5 minute breaks but continue to work using the pomodoro.

According to Russel Barkley (well known and central figure in the ADHD scientific community), you should definitely take short breaks every so many minutes.

He recommends 3 mins for every 10 minutes of work, but that's for children.

I think you'd want be interested in watching this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tpB-B8BXk0

Definitely check out his other work as well, listening to his talks is like reading my own diary... except translated to scientific language

I have used it and it works quite well, for certain types of work.

The 25 is just a suggestion, a starting point. There's no reason it can't be any other number.

But in the end I lost most of the ideas of the actual Pomodoro method (e.g. if you finish your work in the first five minutes of a Pomodoro, you still have to spend the twenty minutes left on improving what you did, no switching tasks within a Pomodoro -- I don't do that), what's left is just setting a timer and staying concentrated for that long. That works well for me.

What's hard is keeping the breaks short. I often start procrastinating during them and then only start the next Pomodoro much later.

There's a phone app / browser extension called "Forest" that's nice, you can set a timer and add a tree to a forest if you manage to stay off the phone / away from bad websites for that long, and add a dead tree to your forest if you failed.

works well and doesn't have to be 25 minutes, it can be an hour. Experiment (test and learn)

The magic for me isn't seeing the timer as a distraction to my flow, but an enabler - that timer reminds me to go take a walk and let my "diffuse" mode thinking take over and all the sudden things start to click.

It's good for getting you started.

So you've become stuck. You pick something you know will be a quick job (e.g. do this one method, fix this one bug).

Then after a few podomoro you stop doing them as you get into the flow and get into the zone.

25+5 is too short but I found 48+12 worked well. With that said usually it's just about starting, once you start it's not nearly as hard to keep going.

I personally use 50/10/50/25 on off on off.

My biggest problem I have with deep work is not that it makes undoubtedly sense and leads to interesting results but to find what to work on. I can't find my deep work. Finding a niche and sticking to it is much harder than performing deep work.

Choosing somethind to dedicate time and effort is consistently one of the hardest decisions one can take. Choosing something (or sometimes someone) can mean you are giving up on an (almost) infinite number of other options.

I encouter this pretty frequently between people getting into serious cientific research.

That's your deep work then (if you are striving for one) - finding it. Focus on that.

honest question, why does this get downvoted?

Beats me. I mostly get downvoted for violating the political status quo of "What's good for young educated white men is good for everyone" that drives HN. But downvotes happen for all sorts of weird reasons I don't understand.

Douglas Andams had huge prolems with the same issue. He was once locked in a hotel suite a for two weeks by his publisher Sonny Mehta. 'It was simple. I sat at the desk and typed and Sonny sat in an armchair and glowered.'

"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by" – Douglas Adams

We procrastinate because most of the jobs we do are completely mindless, repetitive and boring, and we have to spend so much time doing them. Good luck finding a method to fight that... Unless you're rich and the owner of your own time, in this case you don't need any "motivational" tool.

Edit: lobotomy is another solution of course, using pills or any kind of drugs that massively reduce the amount of neurons in the brain.

And meaningless. Who cares about a stupid UI that 3 users are going to ever see and will be deleted at the next rewrite? To be productive, work has to be rewarding and for it to be rewarding, it has to have meaning.

Oh yes, and it's a shame because software development used to be meaningful, until accountants took over the world...

Adderall is very common I think because it makes it much more tolerable to sit and do boring work.

Yes, and twitter, facebook, 24/7 news, computer games, everything we can to escape the simple fact that life, for most of us is just plain boring and meaningless.

>Time inconsistency refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards.

To me it seems this sort of reasoning suffers from the homuncular fallacy. Who is placing value on the rewards: are some rewards 'rewarded' more highly than others? What about those rewards, etc.

>When you make plans for yourself — like setting a goal to lose weight or write a book or learn a language — you are actually making plans for your future self.

Yes, you're making a prediction on the basis of imperfect self-knowledge. And that's before even considering creativity, which by definition is unpredictable. So for example booking a plane flight is one thing and writing a novel is another. It isn't merely a matter of blinkered self-control: one has to be distractable to go in new directions.

> Who is placing value on the rewards: are some rewards 'rewarded' more highly than others?

I guess your own brain by means of producing dopamine?

And to the second question, obviously would depend on the amount of dopamine that gets generated (if that's at all how the rewarding effect of that substance works on the brain)

Ha! Immediately I thought, "This article seems interesting, I'm going to favorite it to read later!"

Oh, wait...

"All procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination"

Solving the Procrastination Puzzle, was an amazing audio book, where the author mentions that it's short so the audiobook itself does not become a tool of procrastination for the listener. :)

"Just Get Started" (step 1) is something I still tell myself.


The audiobook is on youtube (not sure if a legal copy), this link skips the 17 min intro. (link in the comments)


Can't fail to link the classic work with nice pictures, explaining apparently the same thing: https://waitbutwhy.com/2013/10/why-procrastinators-procrasti...

(The above is the first in a series of 3 posts, IIRC, including a post on effective beating of procrastination.)

Why do we set out to do something? In many cases it's because we've been told achievement is important since a very young age. But since all accomplishments will presumably be lost at the time of the heat death of the Universe, maybe it's more important to focus only on tasks if your inner voice requires such dedication for your own happiness/sanity.

If you never get to enjoy life because you're constantly working at achieving what is required mostly by external influences, you may be wasting your existence.

"This above all: to thine own self be true."

I like that Victor Hugo's 19th century version of "deleting apps from your phone" is "deleting your clothes".

I have found that an easy, milder nudge, for either computer or mobile device, is to remain logged off of things by default and explicitly log out whenever you're done.

This is how i kicked facebook out of my life 3 years ago.

I made it a habit to only log in to facebook in incognito mode, i would have to log back in every time i close the session, and that was enough to remove it completely from my life.

Through years of reading articles about performance and productivity, I had kind of extracted those same conclusions and over time have given those recommendations to people around me with procrastination issues.

However, I had never read a short article that summarized the ideas in such a concise and well written form, very informative but at the same time very easy to read. So a big thank you to the author for this piece. I'll be linking it to several people.

Would recommend the book "War of Art" for those who enjoy reading about this kind of topic.

A short, fun read that names the effect "Resistance".

I think that one of the things that causes "starting friction" for me is the fear of getting distracted/interrupted after I start a task. To get myself to start that kind of task, it seems to be useful to hole myself up somewhere that people can't find me and turn off slack. Then starting the task becomes easy.

On the other hand, personal projects seem easy to start but hard to finish. After working on something for a few weeks it ends up on the back-burner, often never to see the light of day again. I wonder if an effect similar to Akrasia is at play, or if that is due to something different.

It's related, I think. You're working on something that will take a while, and even though you're doing the work, it's still delayed gratification. Worse, it's often the schlep, as pg puts it - that unenjoyable middle ground of work work work with no tangible reward. But the new thing... it's shiny. It's immediately gratifying to say "I'm going to start on this new thing that won't suck like the old thing sucks."

The existence of akrasia is one of those things that many people accept as reasonable, but if truly adopted as an axiom and reasoned from in a consistent manner, would lead to far different conclusions than we've adopted as a society.


Wasn't the marshmallow experiment this articles argument is mostly referring to recently debunked? https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/jun/01/famed-impu...

>Fighting Akrasia

Fighting akrasia is silly. A-krasia means "lacking command" [1]. How do you fight something that is not there? The question has to be: How do you create krasia?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akrasia

This sounds like an excuse and maybe it is. This could be rooted in biology. Just like people are right handed or left handed and some are more organized and others less so. People are wired differently.

(I was mildly disappointed to note that sans-serif font on James Clear's site is not Clear Sans.)

HN changed their algorithm? I posted this a day ago and still got credit. This is the first time.

I saw this term in the Economics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang, which was recommended by HN readers:


I wouldn't have read the article, if I wouldn't procrastinate right now.

I would add balance, trying too hard is usually a bad idea.

Does anyone have any advice on how to get started doing something productive at work when you've got no tasks?

I feel so guilty spending endless time on reddit an HN.

You probably have forgotten about some past things that you wished you had done that would make your job easier. So keep a personal, easy-to-access log of some sort that you can quickly add notes to while you're busy with other tasks. During downtime, come back to your log and knock a few things off the list.

A good task for right now would be to find whatever log you think would work best for you, and then try to think of something to add to it.

Ask the question “How can I make the company better right now?”

Maybe there is some documentation that needs to be written, or some small bug you ran across the other day, etc

sorry, I meant productive for me, not for the company

Investing in skills as a developer is a great way to benefit both yourself and your company. You have a great gift -- that of "free time at work". I had lots of this in a former life as a sysadmin, and I squandered 90% of it, and I deeply regret all of those micro-decisions to surf the web instead of learning a skill.

Find problems which interest you (for me, that's currently lexers, parsers, lisp, code visualization, tools to make tools to make tools, etc), or parts of the "stack" which you never fully understood (In college we never actually went over how a C function call works, how to read stack frames, etc).

If you don't have any problems at hand to fuel your curiosity, maybe try upping the signal-to-noise ratio of your junk food -- read a programming book instead of reading HN. Small, consistent investments are more important over the long run (30 min / day for months rather than a week-long fugue state).

If books aren't your thing, find a structured series of exercises which you can work through. Project Euler is great. Make-a-lisp is great as well (github.com/kanaka/mal).

Turn what you learn into blog posts, github gists, or flash cards -- distill your knowledge into easily digestible parts so that you can catch yourself up to speed quickly 6 months from now when you need that topic again.

These won't create immediate benefit, but five years from now you will be tremendously more valuable.

Because you get strange stack overflows.

This can be modeled fairly easy. Let's say we want to do X. In our estimation, it would take some amount of work E divided into effort P over time t (so E = Pt), to borrow language from physics. We estimate this quantity and set out to work on the task. We expect that we'll get there at a rate of dE/dt = P, but we don't. In reality, we most often tend to achieve less per unit of time. I'd say it's when the effort required is more than P that we are most vulnerable to quitting on a task.

But what if we've put no effort into the task yet? Well, I think procrastination of this sort is modeled well by our experience (Victor Hugo was an experienced author by that point). If in the past we've done some tasks and they've taken significantly longer time and energy than we initially thought, even if we don't consciously remember, our bodies will in some sense. I think what's happening is that there is a payoff based on the difference between effort P and required effort P' to finish in the same time. When P - P' > 0, we feel superb. When P - P' < 0, we feel like quitting.

You'd think one's perception would be improved after writing a dozen books, but maybe that's part of the reason a person starts writing another book after the first. A little bit of forgetfulness. But the brain doesn't forget. So, internally, it knows. So we have procrastination.


Example 1: Losing 20 lbs. How hard should it be?! A good goal to aim for if you do everything right and want to have a sustainable weight loss is 1 lb/wk. But realistically, it ends up being closer to 0.5 lb/wk for most. Would you spend something like 6 months to a year losing 20 lbs? What if there were more pounds to be lost? Now, if you go into this optimistically and not know this, you might lose a few pounds quickly and feel good, but then utterly quit when the real hard times come. (This mirrors any project that is easy to start but hard to complete, like html parsing)


Example 2: You intuitively know that a phone call to your phone company can help you save some money on your phone bill, but whether consciously or not, you somehow remember that it will take you 1-2 hours and a lot of emotional energy. You put this phone call off until it causes you enough emotional pain on the daily that putting it off by another day is as bad as the phone call itself. (This is an example of not even starting a project due to the perceived pain)

This highlights another thing. You can accumulate a lot of pain procrastinating on this call, but it's only the day to day pain that seems to matter in this strange internal calculation, because past pain is discounted a lot.


Example 3: (A bit tongue in cheek but...) Sleep. Let's say you've had some difficulty falling asleep over the last week. You perceive it as something that takes half an hour of "effort" to fall asleep. Naturally, you procrastinate until that effort is low enough, but this usually leads to too little sleep in the end.


Is there actionable advice from this? Yes. The more real-life knowledge you have of yourself, your projects (both successful and dropped), the more realistic your estimates can be. If you then bump up your estimates based on how off you were about them in the past, maybe then you'll get a glimpse on how much real work it'll take. Would you still start that project?

Maybe you'll end up starting fewer projects but dropping fewer before the finish line.

For me, it's mostly realizing that whatever I am doing is pretty pointless. As I am in my 10th hour of writing an article on, let's say, prototypal inheritance in javascript, I realize it's totally unnecessary and no one cares, so I might as well be relaxing.

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