Raj Thimmiah


What metrics should I track when experimenting with sleep?

You might find some of the writings on supermemo.guru regarding sleep interesting. 

SuperMemo is a spaced repetition app (it was the very first in fact) that has a thing called sleepchart built in. It lets you both track sleep for finding interesting patterns alongside getting altertness/cogniti8ve data from correlation of say hour of day vs. average grades:

There are a bunch of confounders (they could be eliminated were I more rigorous) but I think it's interesting and even without SRS data I get some useful data:

Basically red line is how long sleep episodes are, blue line is how frequent they are around that time. You can see there's a peak around 6 hours from waking and around 16/17 hours from waking. The green line shows breakeven (if I sleep at that time, for the amount of hours on the left, it'll add up to 24).


It's probably really complicated looking but if you want to try it let me know and i'm happy to show you how. Doesn't take long to learn and takes very little time to add track in a new sleep episode. 

(this is from my own data)

How do you build resilient personal systems?

Perhaps the proper way to think about this is that if you keep following your plans for ten days, and then fail on one day, those ten days still did something useful, and they also helped to establish a habit... not perfectly, but better than when you started from zero. That is, instead of feeling disappointed, you should focus on the fact that the second start will probably be easier than the first one (unless you needlessly make it difficult for yourself by overly focusing on the failure).

Huh. I forgot this. Over time, I internalized the opposite: if I keep failing to keep up habits, it'll be harder to get the habit going the next time. But my habits are lasting much longer than they used to and instead of downward spiral, I'm going on an upward one. 

focus on the fact that your average day in 2021 is quite productive, and that whatever you did once, you can do again

I used to think this: I had clear time I was productive and I could envision getting back to it. Current system might not be perfect but it is definitely much clearer that I can get back to current state, enjoyably.

One thing you alluded to is that breaks are good. I've generally found this confusing because I generally enjoy what I'm doing and aside from tasklists, everything else I'd be happy doing every day. But I checked out some of the posts you linked and they were interesting. I'm gonna go through this meaningful rest post with a friend .


Thanks for the comment

The True Face of the Enemy

I think you can separate out responses to 'school is not good' to:
-school is inherently useful
-school is hard to replace and serves a function (even if not perfect) in current equilibrium

I strongly recommend reading:

-The Case Against Education (I liked this summary by Zvi)
-Free to Learn by Peter Gray (unfortunately I don't know a good summary but shouldn't be hard to find one)

Case against education basically demolishes idea that we go to school for inherent value rather than signaling.

Free to learn demolishes idea that there aren't good alternatives (you can naggle about specifics of implementation but I think it makes a decent enough case for 80% of things)

How do you build resilient personal systems?

Didn't realize you were the author of that post, read it a few days ago!

So what do all 5 of these oscillation patterns have in common? A lack of congruency. The tendency to ignore some needs in order to focus on others. A sense of inner conflict, instead of alignment.

In each and every case, the solution involves welcoming and acknowledging all parts of yourself, before plotting a way forward. Transitioning from forcing yourself to choosing what you want to do.

Honestly, I could do another 100 tweets on what this looks like in each case. The delicate dance of beliefs, emotions, strategies, behaviors, and tools that can be combined to internalize a new way of being.

But the start is just self acknowledgement. Letting all your feelings, values, desires in, and going from there.

This seems accurate and like my current equilibrium is great because I got lucky enough to have done a few things that ended up aligning things that previously were not aligned without me realizing it. 

Do you have a way that you manually worked out your incongruencies and made them congruent? I think it might be useful if you added a hammertime style exercise for practical implementation since idea seems solid but it still seems hard to practice directly. 

How do you build resilient personal systems?

In general, I like to use the stages of change model when trying to make a change. The research basically says that if people try to change when they're ready to change, they'll do it the first time, but if they try to change before they're ready, it will take multiple attempts.

Oh MAN this makes too much sense. The stuff that's working now, I've tried for like a year plus with incomplete success but now it's just working, without having to apply extra effort. Could you give a source for this?

Learning to forgive yourself is HUGE here. Research says that people who forgive themselves for procrastinating are less likely to procrastinate in the future, and I'm pretty sure this generalizes. Expect adjustments and forgive yourself for needing to make them.

Any chance I could bother you for source on this? I'd like to read more on it, also seems cool as hell. 

I've vaguely moved towards this with issue of forgiveness/not forgiveness moving more towards: oh no, have I screwed myself into a downward spiral?? Which is mainly just because I'm not confident yet in my ability to recover from disruptions (not that I have strong evidence of it being a big problem this year but more based on outside view and past data).

MurphyJitsu is a great tool to use here. There's a bunch of good exanations on LW, but the basic tool is to imagine you failed, ask yourself why, then patch your approach until it's very surprising that you failed.

Thanks, forgot about this. Will try out the plan-bot

How do you build resilient personal systems?

I agree that generally a single miss is alright as long as I get back on track. I'm mainly just worried though about exactly that: how do I make sure I actually start again? Or at least reflect and iterate on whatever system failed?

Right now, I'm generally okay, I'm alright with a miss or two (did nothing over weekend because of Unsong but have been fine today) but I'm thinking more about long-term future me

Lessons I've Learned from Self-Teaching

In general, when I first started using SRS I had this issue too. Over time, I got a fair bit better of it with 1 or 2 rules:

-I should be able to make at least 1 connection from the idea to something else (filter out only shallowly understood things)

-I should be able to either connect it to a situation of real life applicability or a goal

I didn't make it only: I need to be able to figure out applicability when making card, because a lot of useful knowledge might not that have it as obvious. But at the least, I should be learning it in a real context. E.g. some of my main goals now are:

-learn UX design

-understand how SRS/IR can be used to create genius

-get better at teaching

-become more resillient to disruption (emotionally)

Those are specific-ish and learning in context of those instead of I can use this sometime in the next decade is a useful filter

Lessons I've Learned from Self-Teaching

The creator of spaced repetition has talked about how usage in children of SRS is not a great idea here


Roughly idea is that self-direct learn drive based learning is needed for coherent, well connected models.

It's sort of like how I learned trig in high school and I can't apply it to a real world problem to save my life. If I'd learned trig for myself, when I thought it'd be useful, it'd be way more applicable and not be so siloed to 'this is how you use trig to solve math problems on a test'

Raj Thimmiah's Shortform

Anyone have recommendations on good non-swiveling chairs? Unfortunately I end up fidgeting and moving around way too much with them (maybe some of my ADHD?). I'm using a normal chair now but I wonder if there's something better for my back

The True Face of the Enemy


is a ted talk from Sugata Mitra about it 

Basically, Mitra installed a computer in a wall with free, unrestrained access to local children. 

Fairly quickly they got acclimated to it. I know I read a good description of it somewhere but can't remember where for the life of me

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