“It wasn’t urgent, but it was urgent enough that it had to be done before any of my other projects. It turns out this is a killer combination.”
You’re not the only one—I’ve been having this exact problem for the last few days. Even the Paul Graham essays part is spot on. Like EphemeralNight, I’ve been finding that banning myself from semi-productive tasks has only made it worse—which is consistent with “Structured Procrastination” (loved that essay).
You know, a lot of the frustration in these comments is exactly what might interest someone in “personal development” i.e. “instrumental rationality” in LessWrong-lingo. I’m not sure what to make of that. And although it’s perfectly acceptable—in fact, necessary—to point out the lack of evidence for most self-help suggestions, there is a point—and I do not think it is very difficult to reach—a point at which abstaining from the subtly damaging actions and subtly damaging attitude of acceptance characterized by ‘being into personal development’ is no longer worth it.
Maybe a (temporarily?) venturesome—even self-deceptive—attitude is more likely to lead to a higher ‘local maximum’ in terms of effectiveness in life (namely what you value). After all, if we’re only “kluges”, and rationality is not what drives us naturally (beyond the sub-optimal rationality of heuristics), then maybe we need to follow actions based more on what does drive us, such as emotions, or.… something like that....