Deep work

A project log for Motivation

Run this each day for 30 days for motivation to finish your projects.

Peter WalshPeter Walsh 09/27/2021 at 16:010 Comments

Waiting for the next round of Hackaday Prize to drop (probably today) to enter.

It is remarkably difficult to get beta testers for a project. I'm a little surprised at this, given my estimation of how useful this should be if it works.

I originally wrote this as a way to crystallize my thoughts on psychology related to projects, and I'm finding that the concepts work for me *without* writing them down as a project for others, and it's had an effect on my own motivations, so I'm going to declare victory and go home.

The project is unfinished but open to the public, there is 1 lesson arc that needs to be completed, and the 3rd arc (existing) needs some polish. I opened to the public after reading an article by one of the editors that suggested early feedback is strongly tied to good projects.

The last arc deals with tuning: tweaking your project process for more efficiency. There's lots of ways to do this, but essentially you go through each step and each aspect of your process and spend some time looking for ways to improve.

The first phase is to remove pain, which is back pain, chair pain, and hand/wrist RSI and anything else painful. Clear and obvious ways to do this can be found online.

The next phase is to optimize specific steps and processes. For example, lots of people finally decide to get a high-quality version of "that one tool" that they use a lot, and it makes a world of difference.

(I personally decided to get a high-end drill gun after my last one died, and I find it amazing. I use it for everything now. I then decided to get a high-end glue gun, which I *don't* use a lot, and now I'm using it for everything and not burning myself as much.)

There's lots of ways to optimize; for example, years ago I went to Staples and tried every pen they had in the store, and chose the one I liked the best (Uniball Vision Fine). This has been my go-to pen for years, and has seriously improved my writing and documentation process. I expect a lot of people have never considered that there are grades of writing implement and would benefit from a similar Staples trip.

The big payout for optimization is something called "deep work". This is a mental state that has been noted by scholars for centuries and is/was used by many people, including Carl Jung, Neil Stephenson, Donald Knuth to name a few.

Apparently, the "deep work" mental state is intensely pleasurable while at the same time wildly productive. I've managed to achieve it a couple of times in my life, and I can attest to the intense pleasure *and* productivity. In my case ideas were flowing so rapidly that I couldn't write them down longhand fast enough.

For me this takes 3 days of 10-hour effort. On the 3rd day around 6 hours in the effect will kick in (bigly!) and I can make a year's progress in a few hours. As you might expect, this is very hard to set up and execute in today's modern world.

I suspect there is a neurochemical basis for this: the dopamine released for progress builds day-on-day until you hit a dopamine high analogous to shooting drugs. People don't normally experience this because daily distractions interrupt the build-up process.

Anyway, the previous (tuning, deep work) is a thumbnail sketch of the final lesson arc in the project. If there's little interest in the project I'll let it sit unfinished, because the information is already had its effect on me.