Akrasia Tactics Review 2: The Akrasia Strikes Back

by polutropon 1 min read16th Jul 201344 comments


About three and a half years ago, orthonormal ran an akrasia tactics review: an open-ended survey asking Less Wrong posters to give numerical scores to productivity techniques that they'd tried, with the goal of getting a more objective picture of how well different techniques work (for the sort of people who post here). Since it's been years since the original and Less Wrong has grown significantly while retaining akrasia as a major topic, I thought it'd be useful to have a new one!

A modified version of the instructions from the previous post:

  1. Note what technique you've tried. Techniques can be anything from productivity systems (Getting Things Done) to social incentives (precommitting in front of friends) to websites or computer programs (Beeminder, Leechblock) to chemical aids (Modafinil). If it's something that you can easily link to information about, please provide a link and I'll add it when I list the technique; if you don't have a link, describe it in your comment and I'll link that.
  2. Give your experience with it a score from -10 to +10 (0 if it didn't change the status quo, 10 if it ended your akrasia problems forever with no side effects, negative scores if it actually made your life worse, -10 if it nearly killed you). For simplicity's sake, I'll only include reviews that give numerical scores.
  3. Describe your experience with it, including any significant side effects. Please also say approximately how long you've been using it, or if you don't use it anymore how long you used it before giving up.

Every so often, I'll combine all the data back into the main post, listing every technique that's been reviewed at least twice with the number of reviews, average score, standard deviation and common effects, as well as links to the relevant reviews <edit: mostly canceling the last two parts part because I think it'd be too much work for me for too little benefit for the reader>. I'll do my best to combine similar techniques appropriately, but it'd be appreciated if you could try to organize it a bit by replying to people doing similar things and/or saying if you feel your technique is (dis)similar to another.

I'm not going to provide an initial list due to the massive number of possible techniques and fear of prejudicing answers, but you can look back on the list in the last post if you want. If you have any suggestions for how to organize this (that wouldn't require huge amounts of extra effort on my part), I'm open to hearing them.

Thanks for your data!


Updated through 7/23/13. Organizing these turned out to be a lot harder than I expected and involved a lot of subjective categorization, so consult the primary sources.


6 reviews:

Beeminder: +5.3 (SD 1.8). Details of how it's used vary a lot.

Getting Things Done (GTD): +2.8 (SD 4.0). A very broad and modular system, with opinions differing on different parts.

4 reviews:

Remember The Milk:+5.5 (SD 3.0). Frequently mentioned in conjunction with GTD.

Pomodoros: +4.5 (SD 2.5).

3 reviews:

Scheduling: +4.7 (SD 3.7)

Leechblock: +3.0 (SD 0.8)

Social precommitment: +0.7 (SD 2.6)

Unaided self-reinforcement: +0.7 (SD 0.9)

2 reviews:

Trello: +5.0 (SD 3.0)

HabitRPG: +4.5 (SD 0.5)

LW Study Hall: +4 (SD 3.0)