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A Twist on the Spoon Theory (streetlifesolutions.blogspot.com)
73 points by DoreenMichele 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments

Consider also: https://theunitofcaring.tumblr.com/post/178856511571/conserv...

This is probably the key quote, pointing out that "resource conservation" models (e.g., "spoons") doesn't work for everyone:

> I talked recently to someone whose brain works very differently from mine. If they have the structures in place that they need to succeed, they will just keep on being able to do stuff until one of those structures breaks down. They can pack their weekend and then work all week; they can have something after work every single night. But if a structure crumbles on them, suddenly they can’t do much of anything.

> The person I talked to was familiar with resource conservation models, and this really harmed them when their structures crumbled. They found advice to cut back on the stuff they were doing, save energy, commit to the minimum necessary, cancel plans. And none of that helped, plus it’s actually really depressing and isolating to do the absolute minimum you need to survive every day, so they ended up just as stuck and now without any of the things that made them happy.

As your link says, I think people use a mix of different resource models. For myself, I seem to have a momentum model for "thing-y" work (engineering, paperwork, cleaning, etc.) but a resource model for "people-y" work. Most importantly for me, depleting my "people-y" resource will knock out my "thing-y" faculties: 10 hours of coding leaves me tired but OK and I'll be good to go again the next day. A two hour client meeting leaves me drained for a couple of days, during which I'll be no good for client meetings OR coding.

This sort of thing is why I picked up (from other tumblr articles) using "Spell Slots" as a more appropriate / broader analogy for me than "Spoons". Most people these days are familiar with D&D-style spell slots or CRPG-style "hot bars" and the concepts that individual slots may have very different "cooldowns" or "rest requirements" (encounter slots versus daily slots, in the direct D&D analogy) from each other and that you generally have a mixture of them and different "spells" fit different slots.

> A two hour client meeting leaves me drained for a couple of days, during which I'll be no good for client meetings OR coding.

I wonder if anyone knows a good hack for this problem. I suspect physical exercise works to some extent. Perhaps meditation?

I'm an extrovert with a compromised immune system. I generally find meetings energizing because I'm a people person.

When I don't, it's usually because the people I'm meeting with just are unwell and germy, even if they aren't actively coughing and sniffling. In such cases, showering as promptly as possible afterwards and engaging in self care to support my immune system helps me recover faster.

I will note the coffee and alcohol mentioned in another comment both have moderate medicinal effects, as does spicy food. (But it does so at a cost because it's a stimulant, not nutritional support. It doesn't give the adrenals more to work with. It just runs them on high, basically.)

Alcohol is an antiseptic and helps kill germs. Anecdotally, I have heard of cases where an improperly prepared meal caused food poisoning in the folks who did not have alcohol with the meal, but not in those who did have alcohol with the meal.

Caffeine boosts the adrenals, which helps with immune function generally and allergies in specific.

YMMV and similar disclaimers.

There is no life hack to change an introvert into an extravert. Not really.

The best I figured out is to maximize energy levels at all times - increases likelihood you'll have any to spare. (Diet, excercise, meditation and the hardest, good amount of sleep.) It is a limited improvement at best.

For me, physical exercise helps with "thing-y" stuff but not "people-y" stuff. Meditation doesn't help me with anything (despite, or maybe because of, having grown up with a parent who was obsessed with that kind of spiritual woo). It basically just comes down to it taking a lot of mental energy for me to be "sociable", which then gets exponentially worse when I'm also trying to be "professional" and represent my company to a client.

I'm an introvert who kind of likes people (but get drained a few hours after spending time talking) and my go-to has been tons of coffee. (when I was younger booze was good too, for social situations, not client meetings, but I had the same issue with social stuff generally)

Interesting read, thank you. A friend of mine has a genetic immune system condition and definitely fits the spoons model - their stamina is hard capped per day, although the cap fluctuates with their health.

Whereas if I'm going through a severe depressive episode, building momentum and restructuring is the only thing that works for me.

It's important to set realistic daily goals and not beat oneself up as long as some momentum is building, even if it's in tiny increments.

Both my wife and I have autoimmune conditions and we operate like your friend. Coding can be a bitch on the bad days.

I wanted to chime in that I found that link helpful! I'd wondered why I didn't relate with spoon theory in the past. Spoon theory seems to apply for me only when I'm near capacity and don't have much slack (in the vein of https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/yLLkWMDbC9ZNKbjDG/slack). In those cases, I definitely notice that I will crave downtime, especially if I've had a lot of social activities. If I'm below 75% capacity, I think the momentum model best describes my situation. So if I could spend a couple more hours studying a new concept, working on a side project, or even just chores and life maintenance, it doesn't use up any of my spoons--I just have to put some effort in and collect the momentum to do more.


I seem to follow the spoon model (if I schedule too many things, _bad_ things happen) but I don't have any genetic diseases, so not sure what to make of that.

Related, this is an excellent story about a millionaire who lost it all to become homeless, and then how he pulled himself back up: https://priceonomics.com/what-its-like-to-fail/

A very exciting story.

But in order to be fair, having $500k in savings is nowhere close to being a millionaire.

True and a very good point. I was thinking more in terms of his net worth, house, cars, etc.

Halfway there in fact.

As the link to the Spoon Theory link was blocked (hello, blockadblock.com) becaues of the 8 plugins that I have, here's the Wiki on it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoon_theory

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