I'm not sure if this strategy is too straightforward to bother mentioning here, but it has made a signficant difference to my productivity in the time since I decided to employ it.

I'm attempting to write up some awkward-to-write-up technical stuff to go in my PhD thesis, and have been putting off getting to the hard part for weeks. About a week ago, I decided on the insanely straightforward hack 'start writing at 10.00 every day, and write until 12.00, during that time, do nothing else'. This has had massive effects. I've written more than I had managed in nearly a month previously - despite that fact that I thought I had spent most of most days attempting to write for the whole of the past month.

I think this is probably related to much of the stuff already posted - it's a less extreme version of Alicorn's suggestion, and it's implied by some of PJEby's earlier writing - it's probably also completely useless to people who have some outside pressure/deadlines which make this sort of 'I really can't even be bothered to start' motivation problem unthinkable, but it is an anti-akrasia tactic that I have been using successfully for at least a short amount of time: tell yourself you're going to do X during a certain time period, and completely ban yourself from doing anything else. Seems silly/obvious, but it appears to work.

Share Your Anti-Akrasia Tricks

by Vladimir_Golovin 1 min read15th May 2009121 comments


People have been encouraging me to share my anti-akrasia tricks, but it feels inappropriate to dedicate a top-level post solely to unproven techniques that work for some person and may not work for others, so:

Go ahead and share your anti-akrasia tricks!

Let's make it an open thread where we just share what works and what doesn't, without worrying (yet) about having to explain tricks with deep theories, or designing proper experiments to verify them. However, if you happen to have a theory or a proposed experiment in mind, please share.

Bragging is fine, but please share the failures of your techniques as well – they are just as valuable, if not more.

Note to readers – before you read the comments and try the tricks, keep in mind that the techniques below are not yet proven supported or explained by proper experiments, and are not yet backed by theory. They may work for their authors, but are not guaranteed to work for you, so try them at your own risk. It would be even better to read the following posts before rushing to try the tricks: