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The problem I've had with using physical notebooks is that I never close the loop of actually reviewing them and converting the information into a more useable format (anki, connecting related information, etc).

What I've settled on for the last few years is just emailing myself notes throughout the day from my phone. I empty my inbox each day so every note is moved into its appropriate location (calendar for events, files by topic for general thoughts, or to do lists for tasks).

The "sexy" factor is something I've noticed though. I'm regularly tempted to move back to physical notebooks because it somehow feels more legitimate. It also can feel rude sometimes to take out my phone and make a note if I'm talking to someone. All in all though I've found the benefits of converting the information into a digital format as quickly as possible to outweigh other factors.


Whenever I have free time (which is unfortunately becoming more and more rare) I have tremendous difficulty in deciding what to do with it.

This seems to be the result of a few problems:

1) I have too many goals, and so I don't know how to properly prioritize them, making it difficult to choose a next task. 2) Once I try to prioritize goals I end up going down a black hole of trying to figure out what my values really are, what I should actually be doing with my life, what I actually care about, if moral philosophy has implications on my goals, etc etc etc until I've either wasted all of my free time or ended up with an entirely new set of goals.

My stupid question is, does anyone else relate to this? How do you manage to not get caught in "analysis paralysis"? Do I have the entirely incorrect approach to life by trying to base my moment to moment actions on an overall value system?


Is there usually a LW meetup at UMBC?


I seem to remember Roger Craig used a very systematic and rational approach to winning Jeopardy.


This idea of 'attempted telekenesis' is a good label for most peoples reactions to frustrating events I think. One type of frustration seems to occur when the result of an action is not as expected and yet we try to repeat the action but with more anger and expect things to change but predictably they don't.

I've had great success over the last decade or so by really reminding myself in times of frustration that it's my actions causing the events, and that if I want events to change, I need to alter my actions accordingly.


How did you learn to read so fast?


That's what I was trying to explain in the last paragraph: before I started using images I would get lazy and either not add cards or the ones I did add were of low quality because I was trying to do them so quickly. In the end instead of deleting large swaths of poorly made cards I just started over.


I have about 300 cards in my deck right now, and I've had this deck for about 6 months. I try to do a few cards each morning without forcing myself to complete all cards that are due (although often I do). This is because I'm trying to build the habit into my work flow and I find if I give myself the option to quit after 3 cards if I'm really busy that it's better than losing the habit altogether for a month.

I want to warn you that I don't think this number (300 in a 6 month time span) very accurately represents how many cards I add when I find something interesting. I'm a PhD student and the last 6 months I've been mostly tweaking a program and writing my thesis (so doing things that I don't get a lot of new knowledge to add into the system). So most of those 300 cards are from short spurts of reading interesting books, rather than what it would be if I were in the midst of researching something new. (I also usually make multiple cards for a single image that I add, asking the question in different ways that emphasize different things I think are important)

For context: I have had larger decks in the past, multiple deck systems, etc etc., but all previous attempts were eventually abandoned because of something like: it takes a long time to add new equations or transcribe text from a book by hand -> therefore I slowly add fewer and fewer cards, and the ones I do are of lower quality because I would cut corners to save time -> the deck becomes less useful because I'm just not adding things that are important -> as the deck becomes less relevant I stop studying it -> once I miss a month of studying catching up seems useless.


These are good points I'm glad you posted it, it's interesting to see the work flow of someone else.

We apparently have very different philosophies when it comes to SRS, you seem to be more of a 'quality over quantity' person. Where as I find that the biggest barrier to me using SRS at all is entry, and so all of the disadvantages you've mentioned still don't outweigh the advantage of speed for me of using images. I prefer to err on the side of adding too many cards too quickly and just deleting as I go if I find they're trivial.

Just as a side note: notational changes have never been a problem for me as long as I ask the question in the notation of the answer.


I figured I would throw this out even though it seems exceedingly obvious in retrospect, but took me a while to figure out:

If you use Anki (or other SRS software) you can save a lot of time adding new cards by using screen shots. Not whole screen shots but selecting only important paragraphs/pictures/equations from an ebook or website. On a Mac this is command-control-shift-4 and then drag the part of the screen you want to copy to the clip board. Just paste it into Anki.

This saves me so much time when making cards out of books/papers that I almost exclusively read on my computer now.

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