I’ve been doing some activities lately and trying to be more focused, but I have a general issue with just trying to do too much stuff. I’ve gotten somewhat better at that but am still great at it yet.
One thing that I think has helped has been really sticking stuff for a while and paying active mental attention to the true time cost of things. I think if you have a bunch of half-finished (or quarter-finished, or eight-finished, or made-three-YouTube-videos-before-giving-up) projects, it can be easy to fool yourself about how much you are accomplishing and how much progress you are making, because if you’re stuck on one thing you can just say it’s just cuz you’re busy with the latest partially-finished thing. But if you actually stick with things for a while, and take them seriously, you start to realize how long things take. This also encourages you to think more carefully when selecting projects in the first place, instead of just jumping around at whim.
I’ve been working on a few different things. One was a professional-related learning project that I spent some amount of time on for most of a year (a tax credential that I thought might help pitch myself as a tax-focused attorney without having to spend a huge amount of money on a new degree or something like that). I think completing that successfully helped me develop some better learning habits (in terms of thinking about how to structure knowledge and the importance of repeatedly revisiting material in order to actually learn it), and I enjoyed learning the material, but unfortunately I’m not sure it will actually work out to be practically beneficial professionally. So that’s something that indicates that I should have given more care at the stage of criticizing the project. (This is the sort of acknowledgement of a mistake that would have used to make me feel very bad, btw. It doesn’t feel great to acknowledge the mistake, but I’m not upset about it. I am more able to have an it-is-what-it-is sort of attitude now).
I’ve also been going to an IRL philosophy reading group. It’s actually okay as far as those groups go, as it’s more serious and organized than lots of such groups – it’s almost like a graduate seminar or something. I have a couple of issues with it though. So it meets once a month for a couple of hours, and the amount of reading they want to do (like 200+ pages per session) is actually kind of a lot given the number of people that want to discuss (30+ people generally) and the depth they try to go into. I could spend like a week and a lot of words on a single chapter of a book if it’s interesting. Not necessary to go in depth as I did on Understanding Objectivism but I definitely think my preference is more towards that, towards like super careful reading and analysis. And so with the book group, I’ve gotten a sense a couple of times that I’m rushing through to finish the reading in time for group when I’d prefer to go slower, and so that seems bad. That’s the first issue. The second issue is the common one with non-CF type groups, even the relatively civil/serious ones, in that everyone just sort of respectfully shares their opinion and there’s no good way to resolve disputes or conflicts of ideas. I don’t think that sort of thing is valueless, since reading some material, interpreting it one way, and then hearing different perspectives on material can be valuable. But I don’t think the time I’m spending it relative to the value is a very good bargain. So I’m planning on going to the next reading group (since I already “paid” for that one time-wise) and then maybe taking a break.
I also have been going through Peikoff’s introduction to logic course. I actually “completed” the course according to my old standards of learning, in the sense of having gone through the lectures and done the exercises, but I don’t consider my efforts complete because I haven’t automatized the material yet. So that’s something I’m going to work on (as a somewhat low priority) for the next little bit. I do think the course had some serious issues especially re: induction and Peikoff’s presentation not being very thorough or clear on some points, but it was overall decent.
I’ve also been doing my fitness/health stuff, which takes a lot of my free time. And I don’t want to give that up, because I think that helps me in various ways. So realistically, having paid attention to how much time stuff actually takes, I think I can realistically do three things at a time in life:
- Third thing
This is leaving out the miscellaneous stuff of life like loading the dishwasher and doing laundry and minor errands. I’m talking in terms of major projects.
So Third Thing could be working on the philosophy skills tree/CF posting/learning activities. I think part of my objection to that has been that it seems like I would have to spend double full-time and it still wouldn’t be “enough” in some sense. Enough for what? The issue isn’t improvement, since of course if I spent more time on something I would improve at it (like I’ve done with fitness, or with learning about taxation, or whatever). The issue is “catching” up to either ET or some ideal in my head of what I think I “should” be. I think that attitude doesn’t make much sense. It’d be a bit like saying I shouldn’t exercise at all cuz I could never “catch up” to Arnold Schwarzenegger or Lance Armstrong or somebody. I haven’t had some dramatically visible body changes (yet, anyways) from my health and fitness activities. But I feel overall better, healthier, more flexible and so on. And that represents an improvement in my life. So why wouldn’t I want to make similar improvements in terms of my ideas?