Totally an experiment, I'm trying out posting my raw notes from a personal review / theorizing session, in my short form. I'd be glad to hear people's thoughts.

This is written for me, straight out of my personal Roam repository. The formatting is a little messed up because LessWrong's bullet don't support indefinite levels of nesting.

This one is about Urge-y-ness / reactivity / compulsiveness

  • I don't know if I'm naming this right. I think I might be lumping categories together.
  • Let's start with what I know:
    • There are three different experiences, which might turn out to have a common cause, or which might turn out to be inssuficently differentiated
      1. I sometimes experience a compulsive need to do something or finish something.
        1. examples:
          1. That time when I was trying to make an audiobook of Focusing: Learn from the Masters
          2. That time when I was flying to Princeton to give a talk, and I was frustratedly trying to add photos to some dating app.
      2. Sometimes I am anxious or agitated (often with a feeling in my belly), and I find myself reaching for distraction, often youtube or webcomics or porn.
      3. Sometimes, I don't seem to be anxious, but I still default to immediate gratification behaviors, instead of doing satisfying focused work ()"my attention like a plow, heavy with inertia, deep in the earth, and cutting forward"). I might think about working, and then deflect to youtube or webcomics or porn.
        1. I think this has to do with having a thought or urge, and then acting on it unreflectively.
        2. examples:
          1. I think I've been like that for much of the past two days. [2019-11-8]
    • These might be different states, each of which is high on some axis: something like reactivity (as opposed to responsive) or impulsiveness or compulsiveness.
    • If so, the third case feels most pure. I think I'll focus on that one first, and then see if anxiety needs a separate analysis.
    • Theorizing about non-anxious immediate gratification
      • What is it?
      • What is the cause / structure?
        • Hypotheses:
          1. It might be that I have some unmet need, and the reactivity is trying to meet that need or cover up the pain of the unmet need.
          2. This suggests that the main goal should be trying to uncover the need.
          3. Note that my current urgeyness really doesn't feel like it has an unmet need underlying it. It feels more like I just have a bad habit, locally. But maybe I'm not aware of the neglected need?
          4. If it is an unmet need or a fear, I bet it is the feeling of overwelm. That actually matches a lot. I do feel like I have a huge number of things on my plate and even though I'm not feeling anxiety per se, I find myself bouncing off them.
          5. In particular, I have a lot to write, but have also been feeling resistance to start on my writing projects, because there are so many of them and once I start I'll have loose threads out and open. Right now, things are a little bit tucked away (in that I have outlines of almost everything), but very far from completed, in that I have hundreds of pages to write, and I'm a little afraid of loosing the content that feels kind of precariously balanced in my mind, and if I start writing I might loose some of it somehow.
          6. This also fits with the data that makes me feel like a positive feedback attractor: when I can get moving in the right way, my overwhelm becomes actionable, and I fall towards effective work. When I can't get enough momentum such that my effective system believes that I can deal with the overwhelm, I'll continue to bounce off.
          7. Ok. So under this hypothesis, this kind of thing is caused by an aversion, just like everything else.
          8. This predicts that just meditating might or might not alleviate the urgeyness: it doesn't solve the problem of the aversion, but it might buy me enough [[metacognitive space]] to not be flinching away.
          9. It might be a matter of "short term habit". My actions have an influence on my later actions: acting on urges causes me to be more likely to act on urges (and vis versa) so there can be positive feedback in both directions.
          10. Rather than a positive thing, it might be better to think of it as the absence of a loaded up goal-chain.
          11. Maybe this is the inverse of [[Productivity Momentum]]?
        • My takeaway from the above hypotheses is that the urgeness, in this case is either the result of an aversion, overwhelm aversion in particular, or it is an attractor state, due to my actions training a short term habit or action-propensity towards immediate reaction to my urges.
        • Some evidence and posits
          • I have some belief that this is more common when I have eaten a lot of sugar, but that might be wrong.
          • I had thought that exercise pushes against reactivity, but I strength trained pretty hard yesterday, and that didn't seem to make much of a difference today.
          • I think maybe meditation helps on this axis.
          • I have the sense that self-control trains the right short term habits.
          • Things like meditation, or fasting, or abstaining from porn/ sex.
          • Waking up and starting work immediately
          • I notice that my leg is jumping right now, as if I'm hyped up or over-energized, like with a caffeine high.
      • How should I intervene on it?
        • background maintenance
          • Some ideas:
          1. It helps to just block the distracting sites.
          2. Waking up early and scheduling my day (I already know this).
          3. Exercising?
          4. Meditating?
          • It would be good if I could do statistical analysis on these.
          • Maybe I can use my toggl data and compare it to my tracking data?
          • What metric?
          • How often I read webcomics or watch youtube?
          • I might try both intentional, and unintentional?
          • How much deep work I'm getting done?
        • point interventions
          • some ideas
          1. When I am feeling urgey, I should meditate?
          2. When I'm feeling urgey, I should sit quietly with a notebook (no screens), for 20 minutes, to get some metacognition about what I care about?
          3. When I'm feeling urgey, I should do focusing and try to uncover the unmet need?
          4. When I'm feeling urgey, I should do 90 seconds of intense cardio?
          • Those first two feel the most in the right vein: the thing that needs to happen is that I need to "calm down" my urgent grabbiness, and take a little space for my deeper goals to become visible.
          • I want to solicit more ideas from people.
          • I want to be able to test these.
          • The hard part about that is the transition function: how do I make the TAP work?
          • I should see if somenone can help me debug this.
          • One thought that I have is to do a daily review every day, and to ask on the daily review if I missed any places where I was urgey: opportunities to try an intervention

Eli's shortform feed

by elityre 1 min read2nd Jun 201978 comments

I'm mostly going to use this to crosspost links to my blog for less polished thoughts, Musings and Rough Drafts.