The epoch one lives in and their social position will dictate critical skills an individual requires to survive and move up - be it martial prowess, persuasion, focus. People with strong discipline can grow those skills quicker and farther.
A good inspirational example for me was in David Goggins’ book “Can’t Hurt Me”, where he vividly describes his inner fight against his mind that always wants comfort now; he shares that the main reason he tortures himself with physical challenges is not to become physically strong, but to grow an armored mind, one that is prepared for real life struggles.
I find that I can be incredibly self disciplined when I setup my environment so that I don't have to fight myself. How do I fight distractions from my phone when I'm out with friends? I don't bring my phone. And yet somehow I always manage to meet with people at the time and place we decide on. I know not everyone can do this, I'm just using it as an example.
A feeling of a lack of self discipline is a symptom, much like procrastination. It's a mess of things all clumped together like a rats nest of wires. Everyone has their answer to procrastination (the book is in progress!) but beating procrastination isn't a skill because it isn't the root problem. Much like a headache could mean that you are going to die from cancer or you might just need some rest. If you feel you have procrastination problems, it's because something broke upstream and now you are blaming it on procrastination.
ETA: Herding my own actions is about preparation and personal story telling. If I setup a clear path for the next day and get good sleep, then it will work. If I get a bad night of sleep and I'm unorganized, then it's going to be a disaster and I'm going to complain about procrastination. If I see a cake which looks good and I have a weak reason not to eat it, I'm going to eat the thing. If I manage to convince myself to join the cult of low-carbs, then I wouldn't be caught dead with a piece of cake. If I'm working with people who are laid back, then I become laid back. If I'm working with people who are ultra-competitive, then I become competitive. It's all about pouring the kool-aid and then convincing myself to drink it. ;)
One of the consequences of this is that people get worn down during the day, and their behavior and judgement becomes dysregulated. They start making bad decisions, especially where interpersonal issues are concerned. On reflection, they are not happy with their behavior. A lot of people who label themselves as introverts experience this to some degree.
If 10% of people have an experience that is not neurotypical, then you will be surrounded with anecdotes. Also 10% is more than enough to mess with the statistics for a double blind study, especially if they get over or under-represented in the participants.
One of the theories of cocaine as a "thinking man's drug" is that it addresses the symptoms of ADHD, which is another group that can be over-represented in some circles IF they can develop adequate coping mechanisms, including but not limited to self-medication. Same could probably be said about depression (cynicism is good in places like QA, security consulting, disaster planning and investigation).
It's just too easy to play music and read stuff all day when you don't have the energy to get out of bed.
Counterexample to your person experience is my personal experience :) -- my body comes to a norm within 1-2 weeks after switching off caffeine.
I've also noticed an increase in functioning and ability to succeed and manage the symptoms of ADHD as time has gone on. I'm less inclined to think it's the drugs and more leaning towards it being the person learning to manage their symptoms more effectively as they get older.
You sort of just learn to live with how your brain works and processes things. No idea if uppers help that process or not. It wasn't necessary for me.
I was diagnosed at 7, and am currently 30.
> I'm less inclined to think it's the drugs and more leaning towards it being the person learning to manage their symptoms more effectively as they get older.
Why do you say that if you were only ever on those drugs for a couple of weeks? Moreover, while your ADHD wasn't severe enough that your life wasn't negatively impacted in a significant way by not medicating it, why do you think that experience is likely to align with others' experiences? What if others stay on those drugs because the quality of life impact is greater than the downsides of those drugs?
I don't enjoy taking drugs for ADHD. I take them because my ability to be a functioning and productive member of society is greatly impacted if I don't. Perhaps I could learn to live without them, but that's not something that would happen in a day, or a week, or even a month or more, and during that time my ability to perform at my job and take care of my own well-being would go out the window.
> No idea if uppers help that process or not.
My understanding of the neurological underpinnings of ADHD (or at least some varieties of it) is that it is caused by poor operation of the "executive function" system of the brain. This is the system that allocates cognitive resources to tasks and the difficulty encountered by those with ADHD getting and staying on task is due to the system failing to allocate the necessary resources. So stimulants work because they ramp up that system. Note that the "hyper-focus" that many with ADHD experience is also a result of poor performing executive function in that it is an over-allocation of cognitive resources.
Do note that what I've written is a medical knowledge informed, but ultimately still layperson, understanding of the brain.
> You sort of just learn to live with how your brain works and processes things.
I agree in the sense that you can learn to accept any chronic condition, including its detrimental effects. However I see that as giving up, at least as far as my own quality of life is concerned.
Do we all know that some people surrender quickly to physical or mental challenges, and some last longer? Our brain cries at us to stop doing challenging things, stop pushups, stop working on a hard problem. Self discipline in my definition is how you react on those brain calls. Can you shut them down for a while, or will you find an excuse to stop?
Currently I am experimenting on myself, by reflecting and talking to my brain under stress (the best exercise I found for it is the plank).
You should have a strong inner reason why you want to tolerate suffering. Kool-aid, external motivation helps, but up to some point. When I am suffering trying to keep plank it helps to clearly remind myself why I am doing that.
First, one procrastinates only if they decided they should be doing something else at this moment. I am now relaxed and interested in spending some time on HN - you can actually learn something here as well.
Second, being constantly busy, optimising, and improving is a new fashion and decease. It's an unrealistic demand that causes anxiety. You also need to relax, reflect, play, do nothing. https://youtu.be/3qHkcs3kG44?t=1102
Third, it also depends on what is your life goal - be happy, be super successful. I am happy to spend some time on HN, and I do not stress myself over it.
This is such an important point. I struggle with procrastination and learning the underlying causes are what helped me make huge progress. I cannot recommend "The Now Habit" enough to anyone who struggles with procrastination and guilt that surrounds it. It really was life changing for me. One of, if not the, most important books I've read.
When one says « Motivate yourself and all will be better! », they are just saying that they are in a fortunate situation and they don’t see why others wouldn’t be. It’s similar to a rich man telling a poor man: « Spend and you will be rich, that’s what I do all the time! » No, you are not « able to go through tough times because of the strength of character» but because you are still well despite temporarily being disappointed.
> Self discipline in my definition is how you react on those brain calls. Can you shut them down for a while, or will you find an excuse to stop?
Ok, this guy is healthy. Probably loved, probably has expectations for the future, he probably has reasons to work hard, because he gains hard when he works hard.
> Currently I am experimenting on myself,
« Currently I am feeling good, so I can spend this extraordinary energy into something that will make me even healthier »
> by reflecting and talking to my brain under stress
I assure you this is not how the brain works. Basically he has hope for the future, so he can sell hope to his brain.
It is extremely important for the future of USA, because USA is currently experimenting a « Boy Crisis » (from the title of the book) where men can’t get motivation, and they spiral into drugs. Particularly in the mid-west, but it’s a trend in the whole Western world. That’s why some experts are screaming at the dangerosity of having anti-white-male policies in pretty much all areas (work, NGOs, etc), it’s because, I don’t know whether this is the root cause, but at least it increases and compounds the problem.
And finally, that’s why a psy is also able to evaluate what your remaining resources are, and use those to make yourself start a project where you will receive more love and hope (or exchange more love), but that is entirely different from the « be more motivated so you have more energy » advice.
Well, we all are born different, physically and mentally. Your argument sounds to me a bit like that one doesn't have a choice. Basically, I am born lazy, so I cannot change myself, it's my destiny to stick with low goals.
>> I assure you this is not how the brain works. Basically he has hope for the future, so he can sell hope to his brain.
Can you please elaborate more on that? I do not think we have a right clear picture now how our brain works, motivation, willpower, discipline, whatever. I can agree that if you decided that you are limited by nature, and also if you think you cannot find your goals and sell to your brain - you will stay where you are. In the end, we are what we think we are.
Also what kind of energy you need to be a President, Chess Grandmaster or a Tennis Grand Slam winner is different. They all are called displined though.
People with disabilities and mental health issues who do well are usually those with high energy levels or are in environments that produce energy more than drain energy(distractions/triggers etc play a role here).
You can also see it in areas of poverty. People who do well are usually called more driven, ambitious etc which basically again goes back to energy levels.
Stephen King definitely has more energy than GRRM. But Martin has proved you can be as distracted as you want and still suceed if you have an imagination and are social.
But in a sense, procrastination is "natural" as much as the taste of sugar is natural, but if you allow yourself to be carried out by it then it becomes a problem.
I work at home for myself, every morning I sit at my desk and start coding. I could claim I'm disciplined however it seems far more likely to me that I just built a habit of coding in the mornings.
Self discipline is more about going against what your monkey brain wants to do. It's not about just any action. If you don't want to get out of bed and you do it anyways, then a book writer might call that "self discipline" and write an article about it. On the other hand, maybe you have been laying in bed so long that you need to get up to avoid bed sores. In that case, getting out of bed isn't self-discipline.
So, I guess you would have to assume that "setting your environment" is something you don't feel like doing. Like I said, if that's the case then there is likely something off further upstream. Like maybe your schedule says you should get out of bed but really you should stay in bed because an idiot (you) didn't pencil in enough sleep in the free template.
Has it? Is the same true of all the other studies of willpower and ego depletion? The studies of judges with low blood sugar, undergrads being tempted with cookies before doing math problems, all of it? I thought it was pretty settled science. What's the critique of that area of research?
The marshmallow test is to see if she can wait 15 minutes alone in a room with a marshmallow without eating it in return for 2 marshmallows.
Nothing to do with hard work (in fact, it's about having no distractions at all), its purely about self discipline (setting aside whether it's valid psychology or not..)
I’d personally take the one marshmallow, then go do something else, and hope my daughter would too. My time is too valuable to be sitting around waiting for marshmallows.
You sample size is too small :-)
I grew up as a skateboarder and am still super into the scene. What separates the pros from the wannabes isn't just talent. It's dealing with adversity, discomfort, and inconvenience. These pros are skating in places that are not comfortable to skate. The ground is very rough and/or has inconveniently placed cracks. There's a puddle in the way. The ground is dirty with tiny pebbles. They also fall A LOT. By the time they make this crazy trick, they're bleeding from a couple of places and half their board has gotten wet with yucky water. The kind of things that mean "end of the session" for 90% of skaters. The skaters that can deal with these inconveniences/discomfort are the ones that "make it."
Sometimes young skaters to go to famous spots and they are blown away by how rough the ground is, or how close traffic is zipping by at 40 MPH.
THAT's what separates the men from the boys. Grit.
I consider myself really lucky to stumble across this at such a young age, the discovery that discipline pays off. I used it when I learned to play music and taught myself programming. The only tasks that excite me in my current phase of life are long term grit-required projects, like language learning, distance running, etc.
Edit: One of the reasons for requiring this kind of approach is that they don't have "real" AI for reasons that would only be apparent if you have read the earlier novel.
I suspect if focus was available as a medical procedure there are people who would choose it - not something that you would be able to regret.
Edit: Greg Egan's excellent Quarantine also has the protagonist using "neural mods" to prime him into a state where he was a more effective policeman - but at least they could be turned on/off rather than being semi-permanent like focus.
What does this mean?
But that slight difference in the new solution being promoted taps into our brains just in the right ways that it makes existing solutions seem inferior, thus the productive porn.
Yes, but they also have to do it in order to have a branding. You cannot "non-brand." Take for example Microsoft. Thy wrote a version of CP/M and called it PC-DOS. So what? Would it have been better to call it MS-CP/M?
It can get much worse than a navel-gazing/over-thinking-it post on medium.
These kinds of blog posts easily segway into books/media, then courses, then workshops, then, before one knows it thousand dollar hotel conference room shindigs where people end up with binders and get a hard sell on ever more expensive "help".
Not saying the author is one of these snake-oil people at all. But it's a slippery slope from, say, Tim Ferriss to Ramit Sethi to Tony Robbins to (what's that "bitcoin genius"?) James Altucher.... and worse.
Some of this seems to be a rehash of GTD. Sometimes your distractions are something which you really need to do. Write it down so that you can feel at ease forgetting about it again. Then when you are doing your GTD thing, you can take care of your list.
The rest just doesn't sit easy for me. It seems like he's over-rationalizing a certain slice of life and it feels strange, like a bad aesthetic.
There's work time and then there's personal time. In each case, distraction is okay, it's just that you need to herd the distractions so that you are seeing more of X distractions and less of Y. A client walking in the door may be a valuable distraction. Getting a FB notification while working may be a costly distraction.
Personal time is also all about the right distractions. Interesting things are distractions. In the author's example, the child asking a question is a distraction. We can argue semantics, maybe an interesting thing which captures your attention is called something other than a distraction, but it's still the same thing. Your brain is pointed in one direction and something comes along to redirect that attention to something else.
This is just more productivity porn. Schedule fun time. Look, it's fun time on my calendar. I will enjoy it. I'm having fun... for 20 minutes.
I've long since accepted that I am not the type of person who can work from a strict hourly schedule (or time-boxing in general). Yet somehow I manage to have quite good output, especially if I look at what I've accomplished personally and professionally over the last month or the last year.
I think the real story with productivity is that you have to figure out how you work best as an individual, and figure out a system which helps to take advantage of that. I think it's worth reading up on how other people approach the problem because often it can lead to useful insight, but prescriptions and magic bullets rarely hold much weight with me.
In life, its worth being active at the risk of being silly. “Productivity porn” is merely silly. Passively feeling a lack of agency over your own time is tragic.
The key is to be able to determine the validity of the distraction, without getting distracted, meaning without even diverting your mind a bit to think about the distraction. I don't think you can. You need to context switch a bit, examine what the distraction is and then switch back. Easier said than done. It leads to a trail of IFTTTs since every distraction has it's own context and lifespan. If someone has ways of accomplishing this, I'm all ears.
When I'm working in front of my computer, I manage this stream by keeping a log of what I'm doing in an editor. When I step into something, I make a quick note of what I'm about to do. I may annotate it with what I DID rather than what I'm about to do. It's fully shooting from the hip. The point of it is that I can always bring it up and see the last thing my brain was on and the stream leading up to that point. I call that section "stream."
I'll add other "sections" for other items I need to take down. Maybe I think of a todo, then I'll make a section for "Todo" and maybe even multiple lists for multiple projects. This document is only meant for things which collect in my head as I'm trying to do this other thing. It's not meant to be storage space for project management.
The starting of a disaster day is finding myself getting bogged down in reading a pile of browser tabs in the morning during my "putter" time. In that case I'll open a blank editor tab to start the "stream" and create a section for reading. I'll jot down the items which interest me the most, bookmark those items, then clear all tabs. I'll NEVER get back to reading those things, but I took care of the problem in my head and then I get back to "streaming."
It's all about one of the core GTD ideas of clearing your space and writing things down to comfort your brain. The main stream section then keeps me on task. I have also trained myself that this is the most important rule and if I don't have this document open in an editor, then I'm asking for trouble.
the key here i think is to hold on to the focus that i had before the distraction came in as good as i can. it depends on what you are doing, but in the example the author gave, i'd have said: "hold on for a moment, i just want to get rid of this distraction", and then do the absolute minimum necessary to get rid of it before returning my focus to the activity at hand.
By the way is not being able to hear your daughter screaming for attention because you're deeply focused on your phone being distracted, or not?
Sounds like laser focusing to me. Which means that it's not a matter of being 'indistractable', but one of prioritising what's worth your attention.
On a side note, I don't like when people make up words like 'indistractable', but that's personal taste.
But we were. In that moment reading an article on your phone, you were the well-informed citizen living the life of the mind, which is something you aspire* to be. But you couldn’t simultaneously be the caring father. And the regret of that moment stings more sharply than the satisfaction of thinking about the article you read.
One theory I have for how to be more focused: narrow or combine your set of things you aspire to. This is hard. If you aspire to be both a caring father and a moderately-skilled hobby carpenter, you might find your daughter is interested neither in woodworking or in having a treehouse. And so in any given hour, you must choose.
(* assumption I’m making about you just so I can write less abstractly)
It's likely that the success of this book will rely entirely on this word. After all, Cal Newport wrote recently on the same subject, so I'm not sure what this book brings new, other than the catchy/annoying word.
On the other hand, you have an annoying, made up word and the work of someone whose sole purpose at work is, and I quote, "help tech companies build products to keep you clicking".
Now if I skip the mumble jumble of #likes4likes that you usually find on Amazon five star reviews, I can find a 3 star review that weighs the pros and cons. Pros: He knows a lot about distraction. Which makes sense; he does that for a living. Cons: the solutions.
> Make a contract with yourself, he says. Make a money contract. If you fail to keep the contract you have to set fire to a hundred dollar bill.
I'm choosing Cal Newport's "Deep Work" every single time.
I set this empty.mp3 as my notification (android) for emails, texts, applications, etc etc. The only thing that makes a sound in my phone is phone-calls and alarms. Eliminate the "top bar" notifications too. If you want to find out about emails, open the app. To find out about instant messages, open the app.
For me this has been absolutely great. I don't have social media installed (reddit, facebook, twitter, etc), so that helps.
Yet the phone doesn't "suck me into it". I hope somebody finds this useful!
Here's how he described his last book:
How do successful companies create products people can't put down?
Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us?
Nir Eyal answers these questions (and many more) by explaining the "Hook Model" -- a four steps process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back over and over again, without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.
Hooked is based on Eyal’s years of research, consulting, and practical experience. He wrote the book he wished had been available to him as a startup founder – not abstract theory, but a how-to guide for building better products. Hooked is written for product managers, designers, marketers, startup founders, and anyone who seeks to understand how products influence our behavior.
To top it off he's trying to growth hack his new book by putting a branded red "do not disturb" sign in the book, that he expects you to put up on your desk for all of your stressed out colleagues in your open office to see. (https://youtu.be/XVbH_TkJW9s?t=906)
> or over a decade, I’ve helped tech companies build products to keep you clicking. In fact, I wrote the book on it. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, which came out in 2014, was written to help companies build healthy habits in their customers, like regularly going to the gym and eating right. But in the process of researching the book, I found that some products drew some people in too much. Including me.
Here's his bio from the book:
Nir Eyal spent years in the video gaming and advertising industries where he learned, applied, and at times rejected, techniques described in Hooked to motivate and influence users. He has taught courses on applied consumer psychology at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and at Fortune 500 companies.
I read Hooked and Nir Eyal obviously knows what he's talking about, I'm not questioning his authority on the subject.
P.S my manager calls me 'uncooperative'.
The article doesn't seem to point to such a connection, but people interested with the topic might like to have a look at these well documented methodologies. Analyzes and critics of these methods and their claimed results are also widely available.
(I'm tired of deleting their stupid cookies just to read a goddamned blog post.)
What very often happens, however, is that since I have focused so well during that period, I actually end up completing the task, usually with a few minutes to spare. Feels a bit ridiculous, but, at least in my case (anecdotal, for sure), just giving my brain the 'peace' in knowing that it will only have to focus deeply for 30 minutes seems to help it immensely. Human beings are so strange.