Getting Started

"I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined, but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish."


Here is where you need to go to become a member for the site (supposedly)

This site assumes you're already familiar with Lesswrong and The Sequences. It isn't required reading, but very helpful.


How does one improve one's instrumental rationality? Or in other words 'How do I increase my ability to do anything?'

We will approach this systematically- it is certainly possible to wing it, and maybe that'll work better (If so, do that instead of applying rigid structures), but the point here is to figure out what does and does not work. This requires clear feedback, and then changing behavior accordingly. The record of your actions will form a pathway for those that come after you. This too will give you reference when you wish to learn a skill someone else already has. Being specific and leaving a path will help you even if no one follows your footsteps: you'll be clear on what worked well and what did not, and be able to see just how far you've come.

A failure mode we need to be very aware of is merely reading about self-improvement rather than actually doing stuff. Find what works, drop what doesn't, and keep trying new things until you've won.

To learn any particular ability we need to be able to measure it. Then we can try various methods to improve those metrics. Experimentation and replication determines the optimal method.

Our current focus is on basic data collection, goals, habits, and skills. Therefore the first step is to start collecting data about yourself.

We're unsure about everything, so lets find out what works.


On Methods

Regex says: If it doesn't work, change tactics and try again. Experiment, and write it down so other people can do the best thing. I'll give you a rough bedrock. Modify it at your whim. I've tried to clarify things and keep the methods simple, but I'm dumb, so don't trust me. Show me how I am wrong!

After you've gone through this page you'll primarily be using this: Productivity:Daily Method. (Feel free to skip onto 1.5 or 2.0 if you don't like 1.0)

current concerns

Goal setting

The very heart of improvement. What is actually important to you? What do you want to achieve?

Today? Next week? Next year? A decade? …The rest of your life?

Go take out some paper and start writing out ideas with a mindmap. Think of all of the little things you want to get better at, and major areas of your life you want to improve. This should take about a half hour.

Figure that out (or give an approximation), and then break each into progressively smaller steps.

Now that you've gotten the generation direction of where you want to go, start with the smallest and easiest one.

more information on goals

With a rough idea of your future in mind…

You'll want to create a user page, and put your goals, projects, and interests inside. If you want to explain each in more detail then you can link to a blog post or otherwise. Do whatever you want with it as this isn't actually a part of the larger system.

basic data collection

"If you aren’t measuring key metrics you won’t manage progress and you can’t make the best decisions."


  • Make a wordpress account you'll use for self-improvement (any other tool with basic blogging capabilities will work for our purposes)
  • Make an account here
  • This is where you'll track whatever is important to you. Don't use wishy washy 'feeling' metrics like 'happiness'- set hard numbers like hours slept or Rescue Time productive minutes.
  • Download Rescue Time and make an account to track computer use
  • Finally, include a link to your wordpress and user page here Instrumentalists

Here is your daily method - this is the workhorse of this system. I suggest spending a week on 1.0 before moving on to 1.5, then 2.0 just to see what works best for you. Modify the methods and try different things if it doesn't work for you.

The habit of data collection is your most important one, and at the moment is the core of our activities. This will also allow us to do research on what methods are actually effective.


It is suggested that you keep doing your regular schedule for at least a week or two to provide a decent baseline for proper data comparison, but after that you should have enough data to compare against to see if you've improved anything.

These are your bread and butter of self-improvement.

Here is the method on how to start a new habit

Learning Skills

According to "How to learn anything in 20 hours" There are four steps to skill learning:

  • “Deconstruct the skill: Break down the parts and find the most important things to practice first. If you were learning to play a musical instrument, for example, knowing just a few chords gives you access to tons of songs. If you want to learn a new language, learn the most common 2,000 words and you'll have 80% text coverage.
  • Self-correct: Use reference materials to learn enough that you know when you make a mistake so you can correct yourself.
  • Remove barriers to learning: Identify and remove anything that distracts you from focusing on the skill you want to learn.
  • Practice at least 20 hours. 20 hours amounts to just 40 minutes a day for a month, so what are you waiting for?”

This of course doesn't mean that you'll have anywhere close to mastery, but if you can get past the 20 hour mark then you're well on your way to doing interesting things.

Here is the indepth explanation of how to do skills. You'll want to go through at at least once.

The Simple Skill Method streamlines the process.

Next Steps

Admittedly, that is a lot of stuff to keep in mind. This is a first pass on what is essentially a general self-development algorithm. The process itself needs to be streamlined and improved, but I think with a bit of work we'll be able to create a community of learners driven by data and experience.

The daily method is supposed to be the infinite loop of self improvement: you decide what you're going to do, you do it, figure out what went poorly and how to improve it, then you try again.

Good luck, and lets be a little bit less wrong.

Tips and Tricks

  • If anything doesn't work for you, figure out why and tell us about it!
  • Wordpress pingbacks are annoying so from and under Settings -> Discussion uncheck 'Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles'
  • You'll probably want to disable emails in askmeevery and just go to the site daily.


User Name Date Difficulty Quality of Results Value to You Method Comments Suggested changes Link to post
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