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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 (2)

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

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