The 5-Second Level


  1. I am working on a hard problem and A. I notice a thought proposing a distraction from my current task, B. but I stop myself and continue my current activity.
    1. Perceptually recognize a thought proposing a distraction from my current task.
    2. Feel the need for explicit reasons why I would change tasks.
    3. Experience an aversion to changing tasks without explicit reasons.
    4. Ask why I want to change to that task, to what end, and why now.
  3. Exercise

Recognizing the distractions. I'm struggling to come up with an idea on how to do this other than a form of awareness or attention meditation.

Extreme Rationality: It's Not That Great

What are the other posts in your top five?

John_Maxwell's Shortform

Did you end up trying the microneedling? I'm curious about that route.

John_Maxwell's Shortform

How are things progressing?

How do I improve at being strategic?

I suppose the next step after passing the desire test, would be to actually verify that the goal will, in reality, provide that thing I imagine makes me go mmmm by researching and testing. 

I imagine walking around dressed like a doctor and telling people I'm a doctor. Adding M.D. to my online dating profile, job shadowing, going to neighborhoods where doctors live, luring some doctors into my van, learning to sew, digging a pit in my cellar, and buying some night vision goggles and buying a bunch of lotion...

Luckily, I don't want to be a doctor.

How do I improve at being strategic?

If you are fearful of offending people go to an online or in person marketplace and start low-balling people...


That... is a great idea and I can see how to expand on it into other arenas.

Since I posted this question I've been working primarily on strategy and through that have realized improving my productivity would be a wise decision. Since they seem so intertwined (productivity is the strategic use of time and resources) I've split my time up into 40% strategy, 40% productivity, 20% execution of other goal-oriented tasks. 

I've drafted some ways to measure progress:


Largely derived from: Thank you notes from my future self

If I could go back and redo the work, how long would it take me to make the same amount of progress? Divide the time-to-redo by the original duration. 

Ex. I spent 4 hours writing a draft. Looking back I could have saved 1 hour by researching more thoroughly before starting to write. Score: 75% efficient.

Tracking Method

Record what I did during the day in the evening. 
Score it with the above method and add a hidden confidence score. 
Score it again 3 days later. 
Track the difference for calibration.
Ask why that score was selected.

Also Track:

Time spent working.
Consistency of adhering to my work schedule: 5 days a week.


Tracking Method

Rate of changes to strategy guide. (little iffy on this one).
I win more than I lose. (Games, negotiating, etc.)
Goals accomplished.

Thanks again for the advice.

How to Measure Anything

For whomever reads this that is as innumerate as I am and is confused about the example simulation with the excel formula "=norminv(rand(), 15, (20–10)/3.29)", I hope my explanation below helps (and is correct!).

The standard error/deviation* of 3.29 is such because that's the correct value for the confidence interval of 90%. That number is determined by the confidence interval used. It is not the standard deviation of $10-$20. Don't ask me why, I don't know, yet. 

Additionally, you can't just paste that formula into excel. Remove the range (20-10) and keep the standard error. 

At least that's the best understanding I have of it thus far. I could be wrong!

*Standard deviation is for entire populations and standard error is for samples of populations.

Edit: fixed link to Monte Carlo spreadsheet & all the other downloads for the book

How do I improve at being strategic?

So far, I think of Strategy as a method for determining tactics to achieve a goal, and may include developing a step-by-step plan. I see a variety of techniques fitting this framework: 

I'll check out hammertime. Thanks for the suggestion.



Humans are not automatically strategic

How has your strategy (a-h) changed since you wrote this? Are there resources you can share for learning to be more strategic? A method for finding quality resources? Methods for practicing and assessing strategic skill?

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