15 Comments
Mar 4, 2022Liked by Sam Atis

Explicit, written checklists.

I use one every morning. I think the reason they are not used more often is similar to Anki. It feels weird and effortful, and it’s easy to convince oneself it’s overkill. The book “the checklist manifesto“ is a little bit of an eye rolling self-help/business book (lots of anecdotes, a little conceptually vague) but that’s what started me on this path and it does have a few non-obvious tips.

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Mar 3, 2022Liked by Sam Atis

"I tell everyone about it, and still people don’t use it" I resonate with this, Sam. My line of thinking falls along "personal memory systems are seldom used, because they create multiple layers of incompetence."

1. There's the incompetence of "making it work". Personal memory systems often have steep learning curves. Because they're simple, they require skill. It's also easy to mess them up — for example, you won't feel confident using the default settings, and so you may think that the settings is the problem, when in fact the real problem is how you've created cards in the first place. Often, though, the problem is in how the person encoded the idea behind the card *before* card formulation.

2. There's also the incompetence w/ respect to the material. The difficulty of putting items straight from memory easily reveals mastery or lack thereof.

So from there it's kinda easy to predict that people won't be attracted to it even remotely if they don't experience short-term results.

Actually, people usually tell me that they often skip either the understanding part or the review part because "Anki takes so much time". Sometimes they give up Anki altogether. But often they miss the point (due to time pressure, can't blame em) — encoding and retrieval need to go together. When you encode well, you can afford to make fewer cards and you tend to recall better. When you retrieve consistently, you can encode future lessons very well because of prior knowledge advantage.

Anyway, some other "not-so-secret" I've been using that's similar to Anki is the Zettelkasten Method (been at it for 2 years now). But I'm sure you already know that by now.

Cheers,

Al - leananki.com

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I feel the same about Anki. I was actually writing a blog post about learning and Anki. I am an evangelist, but unfortunately, I believe that Anki isn't as effective with schooling as it currently is because it is set up in order to allow cramming. It is actually awfully effective to cram but not conducive to long term retention but school doesn't frequently test for that!

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Mar 2, 2022Liked by Sam Atis

While anki isn't big in undergrad as you mentioned, I've found it is massively popular in US med school. There are huge premade decks with 40K+ cards people use to study for big board exams and the general curriculum, and the med school anki culture is slowly percolating down to premed undergrads as well.

By the way, one piece of software I've recently come to like is Obsidian. It's a free note taking software that uses markdown and has a big community with a ton of helpful plugins. I've found it really useful for linking notes together and building cohesive projects. Obsidian feels like a personal wiki.

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author

Thank you! I will check out Obsidian. If you've used (or are familiar with) Notion, what are the advantages that Obsidian has over it?

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Mar 2, 2022·edited Mar 2, 2022Liked by Sam Atis

I haven't used Notion all that much, but off the top of my head a few advantages are Obsidian is faster and lighter and all the files are plaintext and not locked behind the software (so you could read them with any old text editor if you wanted). Though if I recall correctly, you can export to plaintext/md in notion, but it's not the default. Obsidian is also a bit more customizable, and is free.

Obsidian seems better for quickly dumping your thoughts and knowledge in and building a mind map of sorts. I think notion is better for other purposes though, like being a database (though Obsidian has a plugin to give it more of that functionality).

There's a bit of a learning curve with Obsidian but I believe it's worth trying and seeing if it fits your needs.

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author

Interesting, thanks. Will try it out!

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I use obsidian as well. One advantage it had was I think it was stored locally but I'm not sure if Notion is. Basically, I think if you don't use it for SRS, then at least dump it into obsidian and tag it. Then you can use the random note feature to inspire creativity.

Another piece of software is Polar which allows highlighting and creation of flashcards--even using AI to generate them. Then you can use spaced repetition of the highlights or move it to Anki with Anki integration. I am increasingly thinking that all my reading should digitalized. It's like a super power where I can quickly search and provide exact quotes and citations when relevant. Amazing!

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Mar 2, 2022Liked by Sam Atis

I used Quizlet a lot in college (2010-2014) and tried to set it up recently to learn German but it felt like too much setup

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author

Have you ever used Anki? Seems like Quizlet has some interesting gamification features (I haven't used it much) but Anki is much better on incorporating spaced repetition. I used Anki for German vocab a bit a few years ago - it was fairly helpful but absolutely needed to be used alongside something like Duolingo or Memrise.

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I haven't but know that a lot of people like it! I heard it was even harder to set up (so I was wondering how much of the barrier to tools like this is setup cost). I loove Memrise

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The Anki recommendation benefitted me greatly and made it much easier to study for exams. Made finals week go from hell to enjoyable! Thank you!

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Mar 5, 2022·edited Mar 5, 2022

I have serious problems being productive when left to myself, so I have a few things that I know will help:

1. Make sure I'm not tired, specifically by: not drinking alcohol, not consuming caffeine, not eating heartburn causing foods close to bedtime, and meditating a short amount before bed (I use Beeminder to make sure I meditate). If I do drink I make sure to have a ton of electrolytes, which helps (see point 4!). When I'm tired I become extremely distracted.

2. Writing down exactly what I'm going to do, step by step, in a text document on my computer. i.e. "open the file", "look for specific code", "try changing it", "rerun". This helps remove mental blocks and keeps me feeling like I'm making progress.

3. Changing work location. Once a certain location (typically home or my assigned desk) becomes stale and I get used to procrastinating there (i.e. going online), I have to find new places to work from (some blog post I saw recently mentioned this and I realized I knew it subconsciously but I don't typically take action on it consciously)

4. I get depleted from exercise more than most people and find that electrolytes (currently Nuun tabs) help a *lot*.

5. Have other people around me keeping me accountable OR even working on something with me. I pay $40 a month to do 3 hour work sessions over Zoom in a group with https://www.caveday.org/ which is great.

All this stuff is sort of obvious and easy to glance over in a way that is similar to the Anki example, but have also been really helpful for me and I assume that some of these points people probably don't realize they can do.

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Smaller: focus@will

At this point I use Spotify more often, but if you want drop dead simplicity it’s pretty great.

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I am delighted to introduce you to Beeminder if you are not already familiar. It is an amazing piece of technology and although I have only recently started using it, it looks like it's going to be life changing.

I don't think it's as common in the UK but I am of the opinion that circumcision is seriously detrimental to sexual well-being. There is a group of men who undergo a process of restoration. You can start by covering an exposed glans with a product called manhood which is at manhood Canada (dot) com. I have no affiliation but there isn't much competition in this area. Then you can restore your foreskin using a product called the TLC tugger. It sounds silly and makes people uncomfortable so people will reject it outright but many men claim significant increase in sexual pleasure and feel that they have been deprived. It seems odd to me that people think removing erogenous flesh from women would decrease sexual pleasure but removing it from men wouldn't in any way.

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