Rumination #5: Anti-productivity, Decision heuristic and more

Anti-productivity, Decision heuristic, Psychology, Science, History, Writing, Communication and more

This is a special version of Weekly I/O. In this Rumination, I will pick some inputs that I found worth reviewing from Weekly I/O#41 to #50.

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Hope you enjoy it!

Better person

  1. The desire to be right and the desire to have been right are two desires. The sooner we separate them, the better off we are. [Desires to be Right]
  2. People follow incentives, not advice. [Incentive not Advice]
  3. To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated. [Education or Training]
  4. When you are stuck, explain your problem to others. Often simply laying out a problem will present a solution. Make “explaining the problem” part of your troubleshooting process. [Explain to Troubleshoot]
  5. “If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” - Tallulah Bankhead [Same Mistakes but Sooner]
  6. Be curious, not judgmental. [Curious not Judgmental]
  7. Insight is the smallest unit of truth that is actionable. If you cannot act on it, it is just an abstraction. [Actionable Truth]

Decision heuristic

  1. Young & Old Test: Make decisions that your 80-year-old self and 10-year-old self would be proud of. [Young & Old Test]
  2. Luck and Arena Razors: When choosing between two paths, choose the one with a larger luck surface area and/or the one that puts you in the arena. [Luck and Arena Razors]
  3. Stress-Reward Test: Take on stress only if the reward is valuable enough to justify the stress. [Stress-Reward Test]
  4. Rooms Razor: When choosing between two rooms, choose the room where you're more likely to be the dumbest one in the room. [Rooms Razor]


  1. Illusion of explanatory depth (IOED): we believe we understand more about the world than we actually do. [Illusion of Explanatory Depth]
  2. Why do we forget bad feelings about memories faster? Fading affect bias (FAB). [Fading Affect Bias]
  3. Fading affect bias can improve the overall positivity of life but also reinforce maladaptive behavior. It makes heavy drinkers harder and light drinkers easier to say no to alcohol. [FAB with Alcohol]
  4. Cluttering Illusion: Our brains love to find meaning in short‐term trends and rush to conclusions. Avoid irrational small sample size bets. [Cluttering Illusion]
  5. Poker teaches us that just because people are skillful in one domain doesn't mean they can transfer the skill to another. [Skill Transfer]
  6. Losses hurt much more than the happiness gained from winning. Therefore, we must focus on the process to overcome this asymmetry (loss aversion) in zero-sum games. [Happy Poker with Loss Aversion]

Better Writing

  1. Derek Sivers' writing advice: Try writing one sentence per line. [One Sentence per Line]
  2. Set out time to write regardless of how you feel that day. It doesn't matter if it's good or not. Sit down and type. Refuse to bargain with your subconscious that says "I'm dry. Let's try tomorrow". [Writing like Shopkeeper]
  3. "Great writers comfort the confused and confuse the comforted" - David Perell [Comfort the Confused and Confuse the Comfort]


  1. Productivity is often a distraction. Don't aim for better ways to get through your tasks as quickly as possible. Rather aim for better tasks that you never want to stop doing. [Productivity is Distraction]
  2. If sleep represents the high point of bodily relaxation, deep boredom is the peak of mental relaxation. A purely hectic rush produces nothing new. It only reproduces and accelerates what is already available. [Deep Boredom]
  3. Efficient methods rarely create emotional arousal. Meaningful and soulful experiences are inefficient because they can't be standardized. Non-standardized things are harder to scale but also harder to destroy. [Inefficient but Soulful]

Better Communication

  1. How to say no? Prioritize and communicate. [Prioritize and Communicate]
  2. Good upper management avoids surprises and keeps managers in the loop on what we are doing. The amount of context we think we are over-communicating is usually the right amount. [Upper Management]
  3. When meeting people for the first time, we often exchange questions about what we do. However, the more profound and interesting question behind what we do is why we do what we do. [Introducing Why not What]
  4. Listen and Opinion Razors: Listen twice as much as we speak when encountering different perspectives and have opinions only after we can state the opposite one clearly. [Listen and Opinion Razors]
  5. Maker's schedule vs Manager's schedule: Understand the productivity style the people you work with are operating on. [Maker and Manager schedule]


  1. "You are precisely as big as what you love and precisely as small as what you allow to annoy you." - Robert Anton Wilson [As Big as Love]
  2. Bill Campbell defines his income as others' happiness and success instead of just money received. We can redefine our measurement of happiness by adding different sources of income other than only monetary ones. [Happiness as Income]
  3. Happiness is not positive or negative thoughts but an absence of desire, and maybe it is a skill that can be learned. [Happiness is not Positive or Negative]
  4. “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” - James Baldwin [Hate and Pain]

Science and History

  1. Why is my bus always late? Inspection paradox: Averaging final results can be different than averaging individual responses. [Inspection Paradox]
  2. What's the most significant privilege a student can experience? Born in the right month. [Relative Age Effect]
  3. The Agricultural Revolution was history's biggest fraud. Compared to foragers, farmers worked harder but with less return. [Agricultural Revolution]
  4. We understand a culture the best where the culture's members hold contradictory beliefs and reconcile incompatible values. [Contradiction within Culture]
  5. Evolutionary success doesn't mean individual success. The success of the species can be at the expense of individual suffering. Evolution judges everything by the criteria of survival and reproduction, with no regard for individual suffering and happiness. [Evolutionary Success with Individual Suffering]


  1. When we have too much similarity, innovation dies. When we have too much dissimilarity, trust dies. We have to operate on a spectrum of chaos and stagnation. [Similarity and Trust Spectrum]
  2. When a distinguished elderly scientist states that something is possible, they are almost certainly right, but when they state something is impossible, they are probably wrong. [Clarke's Three Laws]
  3. Delta 4 Framework for evaluating product: If your product outscores the existing solution by more than 4 in efficiency score on a scale of 1 to 10, your new user irreversibly will adopt your service, brag to their friends, and have a higher tolerance for your mistakes. [Delta 4 Framework]
  4. Indefinite optimists' "lean startup" methodology can diminish the potential to build the future. [Indefinite Optimism]

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