Low hanging fruits (LWCW 2020)

by ArthurRainbow3 min read15th Sep 202011 comments



During Less Wrong Community Week-end (Europe), in one event people share low-hanging fruit they used. I chaired it this year and defined low-hanging fruit as something that can be easily bought or done that improved the life. Here is the list of fruits shared in 2020. All typos are mine. "I" usually reflect the one who gave the message and not the author of this blog post.

Water watering bulbs

If you don't know how much to water your plants, if you did too much or not enough, let bulbs do it for you. Examples of bulbs are

Before work time

Reserve some time in the morning, before you head out to work, and invest this into something that is important to you. You do this without any experience from the day (bad/good) and with you full physical ability.

Ad block on smartphone

Blokada https://blokada.org/index.html Add blocking for android. Reduce noises, distraction, bandwidth (?), easy to install. added bonus: Firefox + Ublock origin


Playing music is to listening to live music as live music is to recorded music. If you don't want to spend time to learn an instrument, the Kalimba is cheap and directly lead to beautiful musics.

Better sleeping

No device at night

Set all devices to lock at sleeping time.


Get a smart lightbulb, and setting to slowly dim/become red for the half hour before bed - makes going to bed at the right time the default action and makes me feel tired, and signficantly decreases the willpower it takes.

End the day with a paper book to avoid looking at screen.

Two to ten minutes of sun in the morning, or by default strong light


Takes melatonine.


Schedule things in morning so that you have incentive to sleep.

Having phone 3 meters from bed, to force to go outside of bed to turn it of

Day / night separation

Ensuring you don't see your bed from your workplace (and reciprocally) , to feel the separation between work space and personal space

Neater writing

Switching to using a fountain pen can force you to write slower and therefore neater. Pilot makes very cheap and good-writing fountain pens (the Pilot Varsity) that are disposable just like regular ballpoints, they're around $20 US for a pack of 12

Note taking

One note

Use the software One Note to keep tracks of notes about everything.

Recalling fact about friends

You can use space repetition system to recall fact about friends (who is friend with who, where they moved to, what's the current job...)

Writing a name done help to remember it (some people at least)

Uses Facebook event to remember who went to an event, who you met, and use it to take note (avoid notes from fetlife events)

Spaced repetition also helps to recall birthdays of friends/family!

Relate knowledge

Create your own wiki (e.g. wikimedia) to keep notes and links them together, so that you can revisit them when you want. Pre-commit two hours each month to see if you want to improve the wiki, add links, explanation


Bullet journaling, there's a great guide on reddit at /r/bulletjournal


carrying a small A5 or A6 sized notebook with you can be very useful

Idea catcher

Have an idea catcher, some place to write idea down to not forget it and not keeping the idea in mind while you do something else

Password manager

Use a password manager to recall general private information you need to generally have private and accessible such as account number, all previous addresses, photo, file

Win time while writing

If there are unicode symbols you expect to use often (e.g. math symbol, foreign letter), save them as shortcut or emoji, so they can be accessed quickly and put in any message

Using autocorrect allow to shorten text you write often. E.g. @@ is automatically replaced by your email adresse, sigma replace by σ )

You can also do this on windows with autohotkey and there are similar scripts for linux/mac

even lower hanging: I find the US international layout helpful"

Water stone

Start with combination stone. low to get better knife, and then cook easier to cut your food. It helps to relax. Allow more flexibility/granularity than standard knife sharpening


Set up email inbox rules to sort messages from senders you consider low-priority or work-related (if you use a combined inbox) to their own folder so you don't have to look at them all the time. also: if using Outlook Web App there's an option to have a text message sent to your phone as a result of an inbox rule: I have a rule that texts me if my boss's boss (2 levels up) sends a direct email with my name in the To: line


Use more gif in chat conversation to add more silliness and joy in chat discussions


As your light bulbs in your house burn out convert to LED ones, they use less power and can be softer too! You can buy LEDs with the sun spectrum and same intensity!

Sex life

Keep a list of desire/fantasy, so that if a new relationship ask what new thing you'd want to try, you don't get lost thinking about it

Back pain

Leaning about the back of the chair a few time a day relax. Most office chair allow to do it

Instead of getting a gaming chair spend the same money on a lightly used executive office chair like a Herman Miller or a Steelcase, your back will thank you. also: if you have a dealer that sells those fancy chairs near you, you can go try them to find out what size fits you best before you look for used one

Lost wallet

Have a list of phone number to call in your wallet so that the people can call you.

Extra lists

Neel Nanda shared his personal list of low hanging fruit.



11 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 4:22 AM
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The most meta low hanging fruit I am aware of sounds simple but is hard:

Do one thing at a time

Do it deliberately and completely

When you are finished and switching tasks, pause to consider and notice things

Sometimes make the one thing you are doing nothing.

I've been wanting to write a post about low hanging fruits for awhile. I get the sense that there are a lot of them and that pursuing them is often the best use of ones time.

If you do, I'd like to hear about how to find good targets for optimisation. Time and pain are obvious indicators, but what about invisible stuff? This is the domain of the everyday, and so much of the everyday is filtered out by our brains (eg. I was in my forties before it occurred to me that I could take some of the fridge's shelving out to make it more useful for me).

I am honestly not that sure. I know personally I won't apply all of those low-hanging fruit, and I doubt anyone will. Even if some "fruits" may be useful to me, there is so many fruits that it would take far too much time testing all of them. So in my opinion, I need to have a small quantity of fruits at once. A one-hour even with one fruit by person is nice, because it gives a clear time-frame. Going to read list of fruits seems too hard intellectually, since so many fruits are different I need to constantly context-switch.

Furthermore, a live even allow to see each person's enthousiasm, it allow them to explain in details. I have a hard time imagining how that could be done in such a big list, especially if it's one person's fruit.

To be honest, I don't expect this current list to be useful to anybody that was not here, but I expect it to be really cool for people who want to recall the details of what they heard.

avoid notes from fetlife events

If you think that facebook (et al.) doesn't know where you are, and all about your perversions, then I have some bad news for you.

Not only do facebook have a tracking infrastructure that is probably as good as the NSA's, they have a 'helpful' user base (read: informants) that will take photos, write detailed posts, etc. and then label them with your identity. Believe me when I say that you only need people that know you and DGAF or don't know about privacy issues that will vomit everything they ever knew or suspected about you directly into facebook's information funnel.

Opsec is difficult. Privacy is dead, and it died years ago, it's just that most people don't realise it (and possibly because documented history is time compressed. The decade where people gave up their privacy will be reduced to a line or two in the retelling).

As a side note, I wonder about the effectiveness of information pollution on facebook's gathering and algorithms. Will shoving enough bullshit into their inputs mess up their results?

Water stone

People with a meaningful relationship with knives are already religiously obsessing over how to sharpen them (joke: if you are ever lost in the forest just sharpen a knife because someone will appear and tell you how you're doing it wrong). For everyone else, there's the ikea knife sharpener that does a good enough job for people that don't give a damn.

On the topic of kitchen utensils, I like the tupperware can opener (https://www.tupperware.com/can-opener/).

You can buy bulk box cutters (https://www.amazon.com/Handy-Cutter-Open-Close-Assorted/dp/B00006IC0L) and razor blades for them. Then put them everywhere you ever might want to cut something.

EMT shears are the best scissors for anything that doesn't want to be cut.

Spudgers make cleaning things like mice easier.

You don't need arthritis to buy a reaching claw (or any other disability aid that makes something less work).

Shoelaces are mostly bullshit and can be replaced with any one of the brands of elastic laces. Insoles make your shoes last longer.

I spend silly amounts of money on computer monitors. They obsolete slower than any other component and I stare at them all day. Sometimes throwing money at the problem is the best answer.

Anything that you can automate or use a labour saving machine for you should do unless there's a very good reason not to. Banking and bill paying are the best target for anyone that hasn't already done it.

If you want to try paperless I can recommend the Boox Note. Basically an android tablet with an epaper screen and a wacom digitiser and pen. Not perfect by a long shot, but the first solution I've used that is good enough to actually work. Couple it with automated file syncing to move PDFs around.

Most prepping is low hanging fruit when something goes wrong (covid, anyone?). You don't have to go crazy but having the basics will save your ass (or at least your sanity).

The comment was not about having facebook or any big company/administration knowing your data. I admit there is little advice relevant here. Personally, I share often my notes and don't really check everytime what's in them. It would be too complex, so I avoid to put anything that I should not share in them (and warn the recipient that there may be some NSFW things)

As an alternative to One Note, I suggest trying Cherrytree. It is open-source; works on Windows, Linux, Mac.

Also: obsidian.md

Cheap kalimbas are actually fairly unpleasant to play and produce a pretty tinny sound because they are small and the keys are stiff. If you want a cheap small instrument to play with I'd recommend a hang drum or mini keyboard.

I used to give (good quality) harmonica to people wanting to start playing without too much trouble. Tried twice. None of the receiver plays it (one I know because we know live together, the other I only guess, but they may be using it at home maybe. )

The mediawiki suggestion was mine (and the whetstones, but that's more specifically for people who cook and/or relax more easily with something to do) and it's been surprisingly useful.

There's always something small to add, so it can very quickly become a virtuous cycle of finding something that cheers you up and adding something to cheer up future you in turn.