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What are your greatest one-shot life improvements?

This one rang true for me, whenever I write down a couple of ideas, the ideas just won't stop, and I ride that high for the rest of the day.

I'm curious on how well it works when done intentionally, and for a prolonged period. I'm going to implement this as a habit over the holidays, and see how it goes.

For those interested, I found this article from James on his own website where he talks at length about this idea and provides details around implementing it:
The Ultimate Guide for Becoming an Idea Machine

What are your greatest one-shot life improvements?

Spending too much time using your phone each day (surfing, messaging, watching videos, ..etc.).

Change your phone's display settings to only display in grey scale.

I saw this tip online a long time ago, and have tried it on several occasions to break an addiction to my phone (where I was glued to my phone for hours daily).

It's shocking how well this trick works. You realize after using your phone in this mode for a few days how effective colours are in getting and keeping your attention, all in the name of getting you more "engaged" with apps / your phone.

One the one hand, this one-time solution gets rid of all these temptations wholesale, on the other hand, it's almost nauseating to use the phone for a long period of time in grey scale. I don't know why, but I will literally end up tossing my phone away in disgust after a few minutes of using it in this mode, thereby very effectively solving the original problem.

What are your greatest one-shot life improvements?
Answer by slickoDec 07, 202015

Regularly eating unhealthy snacks/food.

One-time solution:
Put all the unhealthy snacks/food in a hard to reach shelf in the pantry, and shove them all the way to the back.

This solution is very effective in reducing the snacking and junk-food eating. It's based on two laws of behaviour change.

  1. Make it Invisible: If it's out of sight, it's out of mind. With the junk food tucked away, you'll be tempted a lot less, if not completely forget that those foods were even an option.
  2. Make it Difficult: Bending all the way down to reach into the bottom shelf of the pantry (for me, that's at floor level) is really tedious, and that bit of resistance is surprisingly effective in reducing my desire to get that snack/food.

Bonus point — A similar trick is actually well-known in retail: whatever product you put in the top shelf (waist-height) near the cashier will sell much more than any product you put in the bottom shelf (even if the bottom product is a much better-known brand).

* These laws come from the book Atomic Habits, which I've read twice and have grokked fully. As a result, I was able to easily come up with dozens of these one-time solutions for all my daily problems. I consider it a life-changing book and I highly recommend it (and I'd love to chat with anyone about habit design, just PM me).

What are your greatest one-shot life improvements?
Answer by slickoDec 07, 202010

Endless watching of Netflix (or Youtube).

One-time solution: 
Disable auto-play on Netflix (it's a config setting, which applies across all devices).

Auto-play on services like Netflix is extremely dangerous, especially when watching TV shows whose plot advances episode to episode as if it's a really long movie. For me, watching videos is really immersive and induces a flow state, which famously causes time to dilate (in this case, it shrinks). Hence, without a clear signal that a "unit" of watching has completed, I would get stuck watching for hours at a time.

Additionally, the tiniest bit of resistance (i.e. having to reach for the controller/mouse to click the "Continue" button) seems to be just enough to allow me to regain a semblance of control.

Finally, I instituted a rule for myself: I can watch as much Netflix as I like, provided that before I click the "Continue" button, I must do at least 1 productive thing. Interestingly, most nights, after watching a single episode, I end up stuck in a flow state doing the productive thing instead and the whole evening turns out great!

Hiding Complexity

Intuitively, this feels accurate to me (at least for a certain category of problems - those that are solvable with divide and conquer strategies).

I've always viewed most software best-practices (e.g. modularity, loose-coupling, SOLID principles) as techniques for "managing complexity".

Programming is hard to begin with, and programming large systems is even harder. If the code you're looking at is thousands of lines of code in a single file with no apparent structure, then it's extremely hard to reason about. That's why we have "methods", a mechanism to mentally tuck away pieces of related functionality and abstract them into just a method name. Then, when that wasn't enough, we came up with classes, namespaces, projects, microservices ..etc.

Also, I agree that a good amount of learning works this way. I would even point to "teaching" as another example of this. Teaching someone a complex topic often involves deciding what "levels" of understanding are at play, and what subproblems can be abstracted away at each level until the learner masters the current level. This works both when you teach someone in a top-down fashion (you're doing the division of problems for them and helping them learn the subsolutions, recursively), or a bottom-up fashion (you teach them a particular low-level solution, then name the subproblem you've just solved, zoom out, and repeat).

Rationality Quotes Thread March 2015

My first downvote, yay! Didn't feel that bad :)

Anyway, my comment was merely an attempt to allay the philosophical worries expressed in the parent quote and so I used the same terms; it wasn't meant as pedagogy.

Rationality Quotes Thread March 2015

Luckily you only have to make fewer mistakes than your opponent to win.

Rationality: From AI to Zombies

Good work guys!

This might be the excuse I need to finally go through the complete sequences as opposed to relying on cherry-picking posts whenever I encounter a reference I don't already know.

Innate Mathematical Ability

Not buying anything, just trying to satisfy my desire to optimize any skill I have (Raven's matrices, crumbled paper basketball, driving, how to hold a pen, or any other skill).

See my previous answers to JonahSinick for more details.

Innate Mathematical Ability

I appreciate your response, but I think you're forgetting my original question.

I got the answer in under 2 minutes (didn't time it exactly). However, when I first identified my answer candidate (answer 2), it was probably about two thirds of the way in. I got the correct answer by going across at first, but then spent additional time double checking my work using columns, and then double checking my answer before "committing".

I got the answer correctly and in under 2 minutes. I saw the pattern relatively effortlessly, but was only inquiring as to how to optimize the speed by fixing my "hesitation" to commit to the answer until I've double-checked it and ruled out any bait answers as well.

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