posttitle = New site page: Experiments titleClass =short len =26

New site page: Experiments

I try a lot of things. In the past I’ve forced myself to try things a certain oftenness. There was my 2014 habit-a-week project, and 2015’s #trythings beeminder.

I think I’m presently trying more interesting things, more often, but it’s coming from internal drives rather than external pressures. I reflected that I wanted a place to write about these—things in progress, things that might not work, small things… things that aren’t worth their own blog post at this phase.

So I’ve made a new page on my site!

It’s basically just an embedded WorkFlowy document, which is great because it means I can update it easily without having to go into wordpress and hit publish. It also means that even though I know I’m writing for the world, not just myself, I don’t feel like I need to write in prose, so it allows me to be terser, and more direct.

Here’s what the page initially contains. I’m sure I’m running more experiments than these 5 right now, but this seemed like a good start.

Pomo break action box

Started: 2016-08-27

  • Idea: have a spot in my room to place things to be interacted with during my 5min pomodoro breaks. This could include:
    • “here’s an item that will take <= 5 minutes to deal with”
      • a paper to file, perhaps
      • or something that needs to be krazy glued
    • also little talismans or other objects that represent a thing I could do during those 5 minutes
      sort of like Brienne’s talismans for her drives to action

      • Clarity talisman: decluttering
        • the first object I started with is a particular keychain that I can wear as a ring, which is acting as my Clarity talisman
        • Clarity is my drive-to-action for making lists or task breakdowns, checking off tasks, organizing my space, getting rid of things I don’t need, and otherwise transmuting chaos into order.
          (More on my internal cast of characters representing my drives to action here …I haven’t really been actively using this model much, but it was helpful to make it.)
        • I wear the Clarity talisman when I’m spending my pomo break decluttering my room or doing something like laundry. Clarity loves getting 5 minutes to hustle on something, and the ring is feeling super engaging as a way to get in that zone.
      • Wrist gloves: stretching
        • I thought it would be good to do wrist exercises sometimes during pomo breaks, or other stretching, so I put a pair of half-gloves (they cover just wrist and palm, not fingers) in the pomo break action box.
        • I’ve only used these twice as of 2016-09-19 @ 23:30 and one of those was just now.
        • I don’t actually wear them for the exercises, they just act as a queue
  • How it’s going so far
    • 2016-09-19 @ 23:16 — this is going great! Depending on how engrossed I am in my work, I sometimes use the Clarity talisman 5 times in the span of a morning or afternoon. My space becomes really clear. Other times I don’t use it at all. I haven’t used it as a spot for one-time things very much at all, so the main win here is just the Clarity talisman.
  • Further reading:

Most valuable blocks

Started: 2016-08-29

  • Idea: Take some time each day to do whatever feels most important in that moment.
    • Realizing that certain things are hard to plan to do in advance, since being motivated towards them doesn’t come from having them on my todo list.
      • eg writing, theorizing, etc
    • Wanting to do more of these things.
    • I’m reflecting now (2016-09-20 @ 01:27) that this may have something to do with the whole drives-to-action thing, where Clarity is the one who deals with ticking things off lists, and Clarity isn’t interested in these sorts of open-ended things
  • How it’s going so far
    • 2016-09-20 @ 01:26
      • Has been pretty good when I explicitly do it. Lots of new writing & theorizing. Tonight’s yielded this new Experiments page for my blog!
      • Have been inconsistent about doing it, but I think the Lights Spreadsheet (described elsewhere here) will help.

Daily briefing

Started: 2016-08-29

  • Idea: A short list of things I want to keep in mind, that I read daily.
  • I noticed that I’ve had lots of insights etc that I’ve tried to remind myself of in the future, but I was doing this by sending the long journal entries with the insights to myself. Of course, I never ended up reading these.
  • Instead, I now have a bullet list of 4 items that I review daily. They have a high-level heading plus a couple of guiding sentences.
  • Currently (2016-09-20)
    • Ensure you have a frog (an important / hard task to do early)
    • Most Valuable Blocks
    • if beeminder m/blog goes into red, that means something else is broken
    • How connected are you feeling to [the members of the intentional community]?

Keto diet

Started: 2016-09-01

  • I’m trying the keto diet for the month of September.
    • Daily macro targets:
      • 156g fat
      • 25g carbs
      • 125g protein
  • Reasons
    • Experiment with an intense diet
    • See if being in the ketosis state is phenomenologically interesting
    • Lose ~10 pounds I’ve gained over the last few years.
  • How it’s going so far
    • 2016-09-20 @ 01:18
      • A diet that encourages me to eat giant cheesey bacon omelettes is a pretty great diet, as far as I’m concerned. In general, most of my meal-food consumption was already very keto-appropriate.
      • Ketosis state doesn’t seem very phenemenologically interesting. The fast I did the first 2 days was though. Day 1 was a great day on all counts. Day 2 found me in a high serotonin, low-dopamine state: feeling content/satisfied, and not particularly feeling drawn towards doing anything, including relaxing.
      • Finding super-low-carb chocolate is hard.
        • My best solution atm is
          • cocoa powder (some has carbs, but not mine!)
          • erythritol (a zero glycemic index sweetener)
          • 35% fat cream (has a little carbs so I can’t use too much)
        • these 3 mixed together makes a delicious chocolatey syrupy thing.
        • I think that I could potentially use melted butter instead of cream, which is zero carbs, but I need to buy unsalted butter for that.
      • And I’ve lost 5 lbs! That may be due to caloric intake as much as anything else, but I think part of the idea of keto is that eating tons of fat makes it easier not to overeat. At any rate, this seems to be working!
      • It’s looking like I may well extend the experiment another month at the end of september.


Started 2016-09-12

  • Idea: Brush my teeth midday to prevent snacking. Eat a mint instead if toothbrush not available.
  • I’ve noticed that it’s easier not to snack if I’ve recently brushed my teeth.
  • So, I’ve decided that after eating my first main meal for the day, I’ll brush my teeth, then not eat for several hours.
  • However! I often end up hanging out in the kitchen for several hours after my first meal, engrossed in high-quality conversation. I don’t want to have to excuse myself to brush my teeth…
  • So as a symbolic partial measure, I’m keeping some mints in my kitchen cupboard, which I’ll use when I’m done eating for the moment.
  • How it’s going so far
    • 2016-09-20 @ 01:11: Was inconsistent at first, but the last couple of days have been good! Stopping snacking not only makes it easy to eat well, but also helps me stay focused.

Lights spreadsheet

Started: 2016-09-18

  • Idea: Track daily habits/practices in a ternary format: win, half, fail.
    • This comes directly from Sebastian Marshall:
    • I used to use The Daily Practice ( for something similar, back in 2012, but
      • I like the simplicity of a spreadsheet
      • the 3-color format is very important
        • 1: it discourages failing with abandon. Even if past a threshold, I can usually still do *something* to get the half success
        • 2: it lets me see that I need to attend to my habits before I’ve actually gone off the rails
  • Several of the items are here because they represent “signs that my life is in order”
    • sleep, nap, decluttering
  • How it’s going so far
    • 2016-09-20 @ 01:14: I’m really enjoying it so far, just 2 days in.
      • I realized a few hours ago that I wasn’t going to be able to achieve everything today, but that I get to choose between doing my ★ task and going to bed on time. I’m choosing going to bed on time, since it’ll be better long-term. It’s powerful for that decision to be made explicit.
  • My initial items are: (15 of them!)
    Many of these come directly from other habits described in this document.

    • Computer off by 1:30am (&?✈)
    • Upgetment (snooze/bedsit)less / natural up time
    • Read daily briefing
    • Nap (Half = started after 1pm)
    • completed frog with a ★
    • Room decluttered
    • Meditate
    • Most Valuable Block
    • Supportzero
    • Abatemint habit
    • Carbs < 25g (Half: <30g)
    • kcal < 2000 (Half: cut self off when over)
    • Do intended workout
    • Write something for publication
    • Work on one of my explicit models
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About Malcolm

Constantly consciously expanding the boundaries of thoughtspace and actionspace. Creator of Intend, a system for improvisationally & creatively staying in touch with what's most important to you, and taking action towards it.

1 Comment

Melanie Heisey » 20 Sep 2016 » Reply

Eeeh, another experiments page! Comparing notes is fun: I have a markdown file of experiments that I’m tidying up to put online.

Keto diet: Try fat bombs!
My favorite recipe is cocoa powder + coconut oil + stevia + nut butter. Chill it in the fridge or freezer, with optional sprinklings of nuts or coconut on top.

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