[ Question ]

What skills or habits have lasting value through time?

by Duff1 min read12th Jan 202112 comments

4

HabitsPractical
Frontpage

I'm thinking especially of things that will be useful for the rest of your life, and apply to almost everyone. Things with huge ROI.

More obvious things:

  • Exercise 30-60 minutes a day. An obvious one, but more health means more energy and likely a longer life too. If you can make it a habit, requiring virtually no willpower (harder to not do), this will pay off for as long as you live.
  • Permanently quit bad habits. If you can identify what these are and successfully quit for life, that frees up a ton of time, energy, and quite possibly also money. Depending on the bad habit, it might also lengthen your life.

Less obvious things:

  • Improving typing speed. "Hunt and peck" typists average 20 words per minute. You can easily boost that to 80 wpm by learning to touch type. That's a 4x productivity boost for life. Dictation may be even better, since people on average speak at 150 wpm. Learning speed reading may have similar productivity benefits, even if you just double or triple your reading rate, given how much text we read now.
  • "If hear alarm, then get out of bed." I programmed myself to do this with mental rehearsal. This is important because many self-improvement projects such as meditating, exercising, or writing really are only going to happen if they happen first thing in the morning. And you can't do that if you can't get out of bed when you want. Spend a mere 0.5-2 hours mentally (or physically!) rehearsing this if-then plan and it pays dividends 5+ times a week 50+ weeks a year.

I'm struggling to come up with many more things though. It seems to me there should be dozens and dozens of more or less obvious things. Learning to think clearly? (How specifically?) Communication skills? (Which ones?) Emotional resilience techniques?

Help me brainstorm here, smart people.

4

New Answer
Ask Related Question
New Comment

5 Answers

Diligently followup on and solve (or minimize the impact of) health conditions and illnesses

Well-phrased. So following up on specific health conditions and illness one knows they have. I've done this by attempting to troubleshoot my own chronic digestive issues. But obviously each person's will be unique.

We might add to also proactively do the things which address the most common health conditions that are lifestyle caused. For instance, quit smoking, drink less alcohol, exercise 30-60 minutes a day, eat more veggies, etc.

Eat more slowly and take smaller bites of your food. 
Small bite of delicious food is equally as pleasurable as a big bite. Eating delicious food for longer and savouring its taste increases your pleasure from it. As a bonus, if you are trying to lose weight or eat less of something, you will end up eating less (you get full sooner) and digest better, too. It is trivial thing, but adds up to quite a bit of extra happiness over a lifetime.

Improving typing speed

I berate my GP about this on a regular basis.

The real question of course is whether someone that types already should alter layout or go full stenography? A shitty stenographer can easily type 150 wpm. Good stenographers can do over 200 or more. Live transcribers can hit upwards of 300 wpm.

You can easily boost that to 80 wpm by learning to touch type. That's a 4x productivity boost for life.

  1. Maybe you can get to and stay at 80, but my coordination is way lower than that.
  2. Fast and productive are not synonyms. Being able to type faster means you can type faster, not think faster, compose faster, edit faster, etc. That being said, I cannot see a circumstance where being able to type faster is a detriment.

Learning speed reading may have similar productivity benefits, even if you just double or triple your reading rate, given how much text we read now.

As someone with a high reading speed (the last time I was locked up with a library I read 24 books in about two weeks, including some I read twice) I can tell you that comprehension is often more valuable than raw speed in daily life. Reading some article swiftly certainly has utility, but simply shoving more words into your head hits limits as the complexity of the content increases.

Sometimes going slower is better. When I write comments on the internet then unless it's some one liner I'm easily going to re-read it at least a dozen times during drafting and editing. The bigger the post gets the more re-reading that goes on. Being succinct is not my forte.

"If hear alarm, then get out of bed."

Change your alarm to birdsong so that you don't want to stick a gun in your mouth as your first act of consciousness.

This is similar to my choice.

I'm struggling to come up with many more things though.

Figure out what the rules are, then break them.

The real question of course is whether someone that types already should alter layout or go full stenography?

Or go for speech to text dictation, since most people can easily speak 150-200 wpm.

I do agree that speed does not equal productivity. That said, the faster you can do repetitive things, the more time you can spend on the important things that cannot be rushed.

Change your alarm to birdsong so that you don't want to stick a gun in your mouth as your first act of consciousness.

LOL. Yea I use an iOS app called Progressive Alarm Clock which has a soothing singing bowl sound which starts soft and becomes progressively louder.

2Stuart Anderson8dAny time I've dictated something it has been far less coherent than if I typed it. That being said, I type a hell of a lot more than a I speak, so it's reasonable to assume that unfamiliarity is a factor. If you are repeating something on a computer often enough to notice it you need macros.

Being able to have routines and habits in the first place.

Yes, I very much agree. So learning the skill of creating new positive habits. I like B.J. Fogg's idea of Tiny Habits for that (aka Implementation Intentions or if-then plans from Peter Gollwitzer). Although sometimes we also need to deliberately grow them from a tiny habit to a full-blown habit too.

I agree and I'd add to it. You could do this as 25/5, 50/10, 90/15 or whatever else. The key thing to me is to single-task during the time period (work on one thing in an undistracted manner). Also I'd add to get up to a maximum sustainable level of single-tasking on hard things (ala Cal Newport's Deep Work).

2 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 3:28 PM

If you're exhausted at the point when your alarm rings, then forcing yourself to wake up at the alarm clock can be pretty terrible for your health since you obviously need more sleep. Unfortunately alarm clocks are a necessity for a large amount of the population, but it is possible to pull back your sleep phase with things like morning sunlight and exercise so that you get closer to waking up at the time you need to naturally. I'm working on pulling back my sleep phase now.

I agree, the responding to the alarm thing should not be at the expense of sleep. I get 8.5 hours so I think I'm good. If I don't do the alarm, I scroll my phone endlessly in bed though, so this has been helpful for me.