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Focusing Your Attention Discussion

People must focus instead of letting their attention get dragged around to whatever other people put in front of them (and then dragged again soon after, so nothing gets enough attention to be finished). But people also must listen to criticism and ideas instead of just ignoring the external world and its knowledge. Thereโ€™s a tension here.

Discuss how to deal with it below:

Elliot Temple on November 30, 2020

Messages (8)

Note: pretty much everything after the first list is free-writing.

I thought a good way to start is to list some things that ppl must focus on:

- finishing the activities they start (e.g. reading a book, doing a course, writing a series, etc) -- esp. learning activities

- solving some problem (idea generation -> conjecture/criticism of ideas -> execution of idea)

- a particular discussion

The first two can be done in isolation. How is someone to know if there are criticisms of their relevant methods or ideas? That's where the tension starts to come in. How can someone both focus on doing a thing but also open themselves to criticism?

i use the term 'core activity' to mean like the main thing a person's focusing on. it's high level and connected to their higher-level goals that caused them to want to do the activity.

thoughts on *indirection*:

- in parallel to the core activity they need to make their ideas/methods/etc available in some async format (e.g. text, voice recording, etc). Some ways are obviously better than others, but regardless the ideas need to be available.

- also in parallel they must have a way to check criticism without losing focus. e.g. allocate some part of the day to checking criticism, then focus the rest of the day.

- it's not good to be bad at catching up with ppl's criticisms (even if those crits are immediately refuted); you can get swamped and end up with a backlog you never burn down. this means you could miss good criticisms => this means wasted work/effort/etc.

- so you need to pay attention to crits/feedback with priority maybe? But only on things that are directly relevant. that means: the core activity *and* all the foundational activities/ideas. (that includes all the ideas in their pyramid of knowledge that are being used or are relied on by other ideas currently being used)

- should ppl pay attention to other crits? why? if it's a big/foundational crit like evasiveness then it affects like all of life, so it affects the core activity. are there other crits they should care about? I don't think so atm.

- so ppl also need a way to tell if a crit is relevant to their activity. that's a skill they can build up.

so I think that means ppl should focus on resolving all the external discussions/crits about what they're doing *with priority* and afterwards (the rest of their time) focus on doing the thing.

they also need to expose & share what they're doing. e.g. by blogging or writing posts about the thoughts they're having / solutions they're coming up with / etc.

one thing that's not mentioned above:

ppl need to avoid starting new stuff, otherwise they might get over capacity. if they get overcapacity then they have to drop stuff. the best thing is to drop the new activity (unless there's some big reason to do that over other activities), but I think ppl often drop the discussion/listening to crits part instead. (me included)

mb ppl can limit their exposure to stuff. like they should have a good system for managing a backlog of high-effort stuff, and avoid doing things that might distract them in low-effort periods. like during downtime mb it's best if ppl don't read lots further into a book if they're having trouble with it (and there's crits/discussion around their understanding). Then again that sounds like a situation where most ppl would risk losing interest b/c they can't progress quickly. maybe a book is a bad example b/c they can re-read it; it's not like they ever lose the ability to learn what's in the book.

I posted "a guess at a general method for doing FI" and I think I might have been wrong in a few places now. In that I said ppl should write stuff down (notes or posts or w/e) with priority. I'm not sure about that anymore.

Max at 1:44 AM on December 2, 2020 | #1 | reply | quote

Set a short term goal. Attempt to achieve the short term goal. A good enough plan now is better than an improved plan that is too late. The situation surrounding the goal you are working towards will change. Setting times to assess progress may also be good. If you fail the goal you know you need more criticism to improve your methods.

Also spending 20% of time to assess criticism could be good. Assessing criticism is like learning or training, so it needs to be continuous.

This 20% shouldn't be static. There will be periods of no assessing criticism. There will also be periods of mostly assessing criticism. 20% should be the averaged amount.

Anonymous at 4:42 PM on December 4, 2020 | #2 | reply | quote

focus on a crit if it would help with a major error

My current thinking:

You should prioritise a crit if not doing so would lead to a major error.

A major error is one that would cause a project (or step of a project) to fail; i.e. it's a place where you don't have excess capacity. e.g. this keyboard has enough battery ATM, but if it didn't then it would jeopardise the mini-project that is this post.

A minor error is an error in an idea where you have excess capacity, like that error wouldn't cause the project to fail. e.g. I just cleaned this keyboard and there's some cat hair in places it wasn't before which causes some key presses to not register or register twice, but a typo usually won't compromise the meaning or clarity of what I write.

If you focus on crits regarding major errors then you can solve those and continue with the project to completion.

Everything we do can be thought of as a project. This comment I'm making is a small project. My desire to get a lot better at philosophy is a large project. I shouldn't focus on crits that are relevant to the large project if I'm currently focusing on the small project. However, I should focus on crits of the large project when I have excess capacity, and ideally should resolve those problems before they become major errors.

Additionally, using knowledge/concepts like *critical path* and *CCPM* I can resolve tensions around priorities: if I know the critical path then I have enough info to know possible *orderings* and also to know whehter something is on the critical path or not. Ofc those can change over time (esp with 1 person projects) but I just need to revisit planning occasionally to make sure everything is in sync *enough* to keep going.

Max at 10:09 PM on February 9, 2021 | #3 | reply | quote

I am curious why this thread doesn't have many posts. Do other ppl think they don't have a problem with the tension in OP? Are they unsure or don't think they can contribute for some reason?

It seems like an important and worthwhile problem to focus on -- to me, at least.

Max at 10:24 PM on February 9, 2021 | #4 | reply | quote

i wanted to shock you into expressing your anger

i was hoping to reach you because i was wrestling with the truth and my brothers shouted how they were gibberish and mistakes. tonight was my last chance to land a big client and i failed, again. you're a smart guy and charming, you' have good ideas. i really wanted to do a good job. i made you this amazing video biography. just... respect me. and in return i'll only ask for one thing, which is genesis. it was a time of trouble... but then a ray of hope. a secretly kind and wonderful tiny little person. this thing we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down. i won't be down for long. i reckon you should too. did you like it?

chris p. at 6:25 PM on March 3, 2021 | #6 | reply | quote

if this is an unmoderated discussion forum why did you delete my post

chris p. at 4:44 PM on March 4, 2021 | #7 | reply | quote

> if this is an unmoderated discussion forum why did you delete my post

I deleted #6 because I thought it was spam. I've undeleted it due to #7.

curi at 5:29 PM on March 4, 2021 | #8 | reply | quote

good job

i will certify the results after the tally. an automatic tie to the male candidate, and the female is put in jail. it is city law. at the 11th hour, i just don't see the problem. a razor-thin margin, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. because of the dream you had at 2:30 AM, i woke up, it was a premonition. i'm pretty sure that's illegal. you did an unbelievable job, my partner. she gets the credit, not me. you have a knack for this. i'm being serious.

chris p at 5:53 PM on March 5, 2021 | #9 | reply | quote

(This is an unmoderated discussion forum. Discussion info.)