Breaking down the kinds of activation and how to respond to them.

Follow up to Notes on anxiety

I sometimes have the phenomenology of “heat” in my torso, and an inclination to “bounce off” of whatever I’m doing into some distraction. Current model: there are relevant kinds of this sort of activation, and I should respond to them differently.

Left over activation

A focusing on a stressful task will increase my arousal (see below). When that task is finished the arousal doesn’t just disappear; it takes some time to dissipate. Often, finishing a stressful task, I’ll feel the urge to go for a walk, or to do something else, instead of moving on to the next task.

Going to exercise is a fine thing to do in this situation, but in general, I can think I can just focus on the sensation, and cool down / wait for it to pass, or notice it and decide to move onto the next thing anyway.

Overflowing with competing concerns

Sometimes I feel this heat because I’m feeling overwhelmed with all the discreet things on my mind, calling for action. My attention is thrashing, there’s a general fear that something important to me is going to get dropped (or each goal thread has its own fear of being dropped)? This feels like a sort of “bursting”, agitated feeling.

In this case, I should do a braindump, either in Roam, or even better, on notecards, and then reorient.

Specific emotional-psychological reaction

There’s some particular content that the sensation is pointing to / resulting from, an unhanded goal or a motivational knot. Often, it is a fear of some outcome or another.

I should calm myself enough to clear a space and then engage with the emotional-psychological-motivational content, via Focusing or journaling. Often, when I name the concern correctly, the heat and urge to bounce off dissipates. Other times, there’s still some action to take, even after putting my finger on the nature of the felt-concern, before it dissolves.

(Speculative: There’s a special case, when I’m trying to go to sleep, in which I should dialog with the set of feelings, but instead of with the goal of clarifying the content, with the goal of saving state, then scheduling a time to come back to to boot up these concerns again, and then cooling off very deeply.)

Notes on anxiety

Here is  my current theory of aversions, procrastination, avoidance, etc. I think this might be premature, and actually what I should be doing is more naturalism, but I’m opting to write it down anyway.

  1. There are a number of high arousal states that tend to incline me towards distraction: agitation, anxiety, stress, some kinds of overwhelm, etc. 
  2. All of these states include what I call “up-and-out energy”. This activated energy makes it practically impossible for my attention to settle deeply into something, instead my attention is “jumpy”, or compulsive. There is a strong tendency to divert into distraction activities (like youtube, social media, webcomics, or graphic novels, or masturbation). There’s often a character of “rushing” about it, as if some part of me is trying to get in as much as it can of something, before it runs out of time.
    1. I think of this up and out energy as, the result of some part of me being in pain or being overwhelmed, and seeking to flee that pain by distracting or pacifying itself.
  3. More specifically, that pain is the result of a tension, in me, between conflicting goal-thread. Two or more urges or concerns are pulling against each other. That double bind, or motivational knot is what generates the pain that the up-and-out energy is fleeing from.
    1. For instance: 
      1. Part of me thinks that that I should take steps towards loan forgiveness, which is (one layer deeper) a pointer to my fear of loosing money.
      2. And part of me is averse to thinking about the loan, in case I already fucked it up somehow.
      3. And part of me is deflecting from the whole knot of things, because it is painful.
  4. I can feel into the motivational knot, and decompose it into its components. This might, on its own, resolve the anxiety. Or I might need to sit with some of the components, letting in reality / building lines of retreat / feeling the experience more completely in my body / decide to have courage and face reality. I might need to recurse and decompose some of the underlying threads.
    1. Importantly though, I can’t skip to the last step, metabolizing / letting in reality, until I have decomposed the anxiety into its component goal threads. I need to name each piece separately, first. Skipping to the end is a garbled version, like trying to rush to understand a proof. And ironically, it is probably driven by the compulsive, rushing, agitation of the anxiety.
    2. Two steps:
      1. Decompose
      2. Feel fully / orient to
  5. So I need to decompose the knot, first. But that’s hard, because the up and out energy makes it hard to hold my attention stably on the experience. It keeps bouncing off into distraction.
  6. In fact, there are three steps that have to occur:
    1. I have to notice agitation or the distraction behavior, in the first place.
    2. I have to be unblended enough with the impulse to distraction that I actually transition to a mode of orienting to the anxiety.
    3. I have to succeed at making progress there, without bouncing off.
  7. So before I can start decomposing the knot, I need to 1) have enough awareness to notice the trigger (even though the anxiety is decreasing my awareness) and have enough spaciousness to stay with the agitation without deflecting off of it.
  8. To do this, I need to be resourced. Intense exercise, rest days, and meditation, I think, all make it easier to both notice frictions and to have the space to engage with them.

So that gives several levels, inside of / depending on the one above.

  • Good sleep, exercise, rest, and mediation to build general resources.
    • Noticing some aversion, agitation, or friction, and moving toward orienting toward it directly.
      • Having enough space to stay with it, and feel into it
        • Describing the individual goal threads separately, decomposing the motivational knot.
          • Experiencing / metabolizing / letting in / orienting to the individual goal threads.

Procrastination is sometimes about something more mundane, where part of me things that I should do something, and part of me finds it boring or unrewarding. But I think that at least 80% of procrastination results from this sort of structure. Procrastination is really about anxiety, anxiety is really about trying to escape from or distract from some overwhelming-to-some process fear or pain, that pain is the result of a tension from a motivational knot.

Note: I think there ought to be ways to make that process smoother, especially for more effectively not bouncing off, and I want to think more about that. 

  • One obvious thing is getting another person’s help, to stay on track.
  • And maybe there’s just a TAP of noticing that I’m bouncing off, and noting that as another goal thread in the mix?

Note: I’ve contemplated maybe intentionally reducing my arousal, top down, as a way to more space for doing this work. It also seems possible that I should reduce my arousal intentionally after I finish doing the untangling, because I should expect that it will otherwise take some time for the physiological momentum of the agitated state to defuse. By default there will be some left over agitation.

Two interlocking control systems

When I was practicing touch typing I found that much of the skill was a matter of going as fast as I could, without letting my speed outpace my accuracy. If I could feel that the precision of my finger placements was high, I would put more “oomph” into my typing, pushing harder to go faster. 

But I would often fall into an attractor of “rushing” or “going off the rails”, where I was pushing to go fast in a way that caused my accuracy to fall apart, and I started to “trip over myself”. I made a point to notice this starting to happen and then intentionally slow down (and relax my shoulders) to focus on the precision of my finger placements. The goal was never to rush (because that is counter productive), but to go as fast as possible within that constraint.

I think there might be an analogous thing in my personal productivity. 

When I have a largish amount to get done in a short amount of time, this can be energizing and motivating. My physiological arousal is higher. The my personal tempo faster. There’s a kind of energy or motivation that comes from having things that need to get done, with deadlines, and it boots me up into a higher energy orbital, where my default mental actions are geared towards making progress, instead of random “I don’t feel like it” sort of laziness. There’s a bit of a tailwind behind me.

(Indeed, this kind of pressure is exactly what was missing for most of 2020.)

However, sometimes this pressure gets overwhelming, and my intentionality collapses. It’s too much. Either I don’t have the spaciousness to let my attention fully engage with any given task (which is usually necessary for making progress) because of the competing goal threads, instead only managing a shallow superficial attention, or I’ll get overwhelmed and opt out of all of it by distracting myself.

There’s this important principle that I never want my tailwind to outpace my structure. Having some amount of pressure speeding me along is great, but only if my intentionality is high enough to still absorb everything that’s coming at me, taking in the input of what’s important, orienting to it, and taking action on it.

Too much tail wind and that intentionality collapses.

Which means that I need a control system that keeps those two metrics in sync. I need to notice when my intentionality is starting to collapse, and take actions to slow things down and to shore up my intentionality. 

However, my intentionality can collapse for another reason, other than getting outpaced by motivation-pressure. It also collapses when I’m low on energy and alertness.

My intentionality depends on my personal energy and alertness. When my energy and alertness is depleted, the inner structure of my intentionality tends to collapse. 

(There are some caveats here. For one thing, it is possible to maintain intentionality in a low energy state. Also, I can sometimes depend on external structure as a substitute for intentionality, and external structure depends much less on my personal energy and alertness. But to a first approximation, low energy -> low intentionality.)

As a consequence of this, the control system maintaining my intentionality propagates back to an earlier control system maintaining my energy level. I want to notice when my energy is flagging, when I’m just starting to run on fumes, and take action to shore up my energy, before my intentionality collapses.

Furthermore, because my personal energy and alertness is at the bottom of the stack, a lot of my energy and alertness maintenance is not structured as a control system. I employ strategies to get good sleep, and to exercise every day, independently of my current energy level, because high energy is self sustaining.

Having some practices that are “foundational” rather than implemented as control systems is costlier, because it means that I’ll sometimes engage in them when they are not strongly necessary. But foundational systems are more robust: they have more slack in the system to absorb peterbations.

Aversions inhibit slow focus

I’ve written elsewhere about how the biggest factor in my personal productivity is aversions, and skillfully engaging with aversions. It’s maybe not unsurprising that having an aversion to task is relevant to effectively executing on that task. But it is a bit more surprising that having an aversion to some task or consideration, makes it much much less likely that I’ll effectively execute on anything.

The key insight, I think, is engaging deeply in a task entails clearing some mental space.

Aversion to something increases my compulsiveness / distractibility. I’m more likely to take a bathroom break, or to make food for myself, or to rereard old blog posts on my phone (without jotting down my thoughts in the way that makes reading more productive / creative), or to go check twitter and then get stuck in the twitter loop.[1] 

I think this is because I’m feeling some small constant pain, and part of me is compulsively seeking positive stimulation to distract from the pain. Basically holding an aversion makes me more reactive to stray thoughts and affordances of the environment. My immediate actions are driven by a (subtle, but nevertheless dominating) clawing, grasping, drive for positive sensation, instead of flowing from “my deep values”, my sense of what seems cool or alive. 

Most, but not all, forms of creative work, involve making mental space, quieting those distractions so that I can give my full attention to the thing that I’m trying to do. The reason why aversions kill my productivity is that my compulsive stimulation-hunger is too graspy to settle down into any long-threaded thought. That part of me doesn’t want to be still, because it is seeking distraction from the sensation in me.

(The exception is some forms of work that “fit” this compulsiveness, where I can get sucked into compulsively doing some task as a way to distract from the sensation in my body. Sometimes an essay is of the right shape that it can be a hook in just the right way, but most of my work is not like this.)

Generally, when I notice an aversion, I’ll engage with it directly, either by sitting down and meditating, feeling into the sensation in a non semantic way, or by doing focusing / journaling, which is more of a semantic “dialogue”, or something that is a mix of both approaches.

In doing this, I’m first just trying to make space for the sensation, to feel it without distraction, while also being welcoming towards the part of me that is doing the dissociation, and secondly hoping to get more understanding and context, so that I can start planning and taking action regarding the underlying concern of the aversion.

[1] I found myself doing all of these except the last one today, all the while vaguely / liminally aware of the agitation clench in my belly, before I sat down to engage with it directly.

Energy is a multi process output

“Sleepiness” is actually the result of two separate biological processes: sleep drive (process S) and the circadian cycle (process C).

I suspect that the same is true of “mental energy”. That what we interpret as a single monolithic phenomenon is actually the output of multiple underlying processes, each of which have their own dynamics. And if you want to maximize energy, you would attend to each of those processes on their own terms. [I say something similar here, though not in so many words.]

What might those underlying processes be?

  • All of the reasons why a person might feel low energy / tired / unmotivated
    • Circadian effects
    • Sleep deprivation
    • Central nervous system fatigue?
    • Cognitive exhaustion
      • is this the same as CNS fatigue?
    • Physical exhaustion
    • Depression
    • Sadness (depression lite)
    • Cloggedness or unprocessed feelings
    • An avoidance strategy because a task or thought is boring, aversive, bad, scary, etc.
    • Low task motivation
      • due to
        • low reward
        • too long time horizons / bad feedback loops
    • Parasympathetic activation
      • From digestion

Takeaways from my typing project

Having finished my typing project, I want to take some time to debrief, looking over my trajectory, rereading my notes, and crystalizing insights to apply to future learning projects.

Do my debrief inline

One thing that I want to note before I get into this is that I am writing this post on April 3, having finished this project at the beginning of January. A gap of 4 months. This a has been a task that has been “hanging around” that I felt that I “should” do, for months. I’m overcoming some activation energy to sit down and write it up right now.

Furthermore, I was collecting the pieces and insights that I wanted to note in this document in the final weeks of that typing project. I had the urge to write up some of the things that I had learned or noticed from doing this, then, but it seemed a little bit presumptuous to write up what I had learned before I had finally hit the target.

In retrospect that was a complete mistake. Much better to write up my learning when they are fresh, even if that means that they will be invalidated later.

Trying to dredge up the insights, now so that I can reflect on them, and make notes of them, feels very draggy. But I’m tentatively forcing myself to do it, because potentially most of the value of this project is in the meta-learning insights I might glean from it.

Learning #1: Write up my meta learning insights AS I go, when they are fresh.

I really wish I had written this post when it was still fresh for me. I think I would have learned a lot more from having recent memories of what this was like, and not just reading my notes. Given that part of the point of this project is to get better at learning in general, this might be the biggest mistake that I made in all of this.

This post is a combination of trying to breathe life into the reminder notes that I left for myself (but didn’t fill in) last December and then going over all the documentation that I have on this from the whole thing, and studying it to glean new insights.

Overall, how did this go?

By most standards, I would not call this a success.

Object level

I think, but I can’t be sure, that I did increase my default typing accuracy. Certainly, my average accuracy in typeracer typing sessions went up overtime, especially after I started focusing explicitly on training accuracy [link], plateauing at around 98.5.

But the main measure that I have of my “in life” typing accuracy doesn’t show a clear effect. I set up a keylogger on my computer back in June, and wrote a script to process that data and compare the number of times that I used the delete key compared to any other key. The idea is that this would be a measure of how many errors I made, though of course, it is a noisy metric to say the least, because I might correct errors by right clicking and accepting spelling suggestions, and I might use backspace to delete lines that I typed correctly but want to write differently.

And overall, this metric does not show a clear effect at all, from July to mid October.

“Daily ratio” is the ratio of key presses to key presses of backspace in particular

Granted, most of my improvement seemed to happen in the months of November and December…

…so maybe the effect would show up then?

Unfortunately, my key logger has been disabled since I upgraded my OS. I can’t seem to access the any of my keylogger data without updating the application, but I apparently can’t update it with the current OS.

There is another way that I could check: I’ve been recording screen captures of my writing intermittently for the past two years. I could have someone watch those screen recordings and note 1) the number of times I use backspace, 2) how many words per minute I’m typing on the sentence level (not the paragraph level, since I regularly delete full sentences). This seems like it would be a lot of work though, and I don’t think that it is worth it?

I do notice a subjective change in how fast and fluid my typing is. It varies by the minute and by the day, but my subjective experience is that my typing has bursts of speed and fluidity that I don’t think I was getting a year ago.

Process level

As rapid learning project this was a dismal failure.

Over the course of 2020, I spent a 190 hours doing typing practice and another 30 hours doing writing or strategy on how to improve on my typing.

In terms of learning efficiently, that is horrible.

Also, as of now, I’m not totally sure what worked.

__________________________________

Metanote: Writing this post is really painful, because of the aforementioned thing of trying to pull up content from months ago. So I’m going to take the section headings that I’ve left for myself and add bullet points: minimum viable version of this post.

__________________________________

Isn’t the case that the most important thing is the keyboard?

For future projects, I will commit to contained timeboxes

  • As noted his project really expanded to take up a huge amount of effort.
  • I became committed to finding a way to hit the target at all costs, because by god this wasn’t going to best me. I was committed to figuring out how 
  • For all future projects though, I want to set a goal, and a budget. Set out with a goal to hit, but also have a clear window in which to hit it. At the end of the window, if I haven’t hit the target yet, then call it a failure and move on. I can try again, maybe even consecutively,
  • (I’m pretty sure that past me had something more specific to say about this.)

Writing helps me to be metacognitive

  • I had more thoughts about how I should approach my blockers on this project by writing about it.
  • Writing posts describing what was happening and what I was noticing was helpful for my own learning and consolidation.

Rushing doesn’t pay

  • There’s a temptation to try and “rush” to push through with brute force.
  • But really it seems like the thing that I needed, for most of the time, was to slow down and focus on the fundamentals.

What feedback you display to yourself, and what feedback you don’t display, really matters.

  • There were periods when I was “holding the intention to focus on accuracy”, but this didn’t have any effect.
  • But once I started measuring my accuracy, as in that is the variable that would show up on my performance graph, my performance changed.
  • Relatedly, I don’t think I said this elsewhere, when doing typeracer runs, I would scroll the screen up so that I couldn’t see my own current speed, or my rank in the race, because otherwise I would be tempted, in the moment, to push for that, and start rushing, instead of whatever specific thing I was focusing on.

Naturalism helped me get unstuck

Takeaways

  1. Write up my learning when they are present to me
  2. Commit to contained timeboxes for learning projects
  3. What feedback I display or don’t display to myself influences what my intention is
  4. Rushing doesn’t pay
  5. Writing makes me more metacognitive
  6. When stuck, try doing naturalism on it

I did it + some hypothesis testing

The first thing that I should note for posterity, is I did, finally, ending on the first few days of the new year, have seven days in a row in which my average score was greater than 70 wpm.

Woo!

I have completed this project, by both the standards that I was aiming for: coming to type at 70+ wpm on my own text, and having seven days worth of typeracer scores that were better than 70 wpm, with no gaps.

As I noted here, I don’t know why those sessions were so good, since there were a bunch of things that changed all at the same time. But I did have some hypotheses sticking their necks out and making predictions.

So I tested one tonight: I did a typing session (10 samples) on the old (“classic”) typeracer theme, and a typing session on the new (“responsive”) theme. Both sessions were done on the new mac magic keyboard.

The results:

Basically, the average speed for the session with the old format was 69.4 wpm, which is around where I had been hovering.

The average speed for the session with the new format was 74.1 wpm, which is a little higher than my average speed (73.9) across the the seven days in I was typing noticeably faster.

This is a pretty small sample size, but the effect size is noticeable. And it does suggest that the difference was due to the fact that on December 23, having gotten a new computer that didn’t have my settings, I started typing on the new typeracer layout.

Recent good sessions and a hypothesis

Since I got very high scores on my own text, I’ve down two typeracer sessions. The in the first of these, two days, ago, I got as high an average speed as I have ever gotten (72.5 wpm), and in the most recent one, I got the highest average speed that I have ever gotten on typeracer (74 wpm).

Why might these sessions have been so good?

Some possibilities:

  • I’m typing on a new keyboard which has a deeper “depth of press” for the keys, and maybe gives more haptic feedback.
  • For each of these sessions I was slightly fuzzy from lack of sleep (the first session was right before going to sleep, and the second session was on a day in which I didn’t sleep well).
  • I’m typing on the new typeracer UI, which has bigger text, which is easier to read, so I’m making fewer perceptual mistakes?
  • I’m less stressed because I finished the project, already? I don’t think so, since I felt myself rushing a lot, particularly in the first session. Indeed I think having gotten high scores would make me even more stressed about getting high scores, because I’m afraid that it might have been a fluke.

But this is my current theory about what’s going on:

I think that I sometimes get into the right kind of flow mode, where I am making some errors, but generally typing smoothly and quickly. But sometimes I’ll get samples on typeracer which are particularly tricky, because they have capitalization or colons or quotation marks or whatever. And for those samples I have to engage my system 2, over-riding my S1, and disrupting the flow-mode. (This might be aggravated by the fact that I then rush to try and make up for the lost speed.) And that effect is persistent, so that over the following samples, I’m less in the flow mode.

On my own text, I don’t get samples that are tricky in that way, and so my flow-mode doesn’t get disrupted, and I can go faster and still go smoothly.

And in the recent samples, I just got lucky, and didn’t get any tricky samples like that (well, I got exactly one, as far as I can remember).

Counterpoint: The speed of my first samples typing on my own text were out of distribution for typeracer samples. It is true that I have the impression that my first sample-run on typeracer is better on average than the average of the session (not verified), but my first sample-runs on my own text were in the 80s, which is very rare on type racer, even for first sample runs.

This model predicts that my typracer samples will regress to the mean. So does the model that this is (weirdly) about being somewhat sleep deprived.

The model that this is mostly about my keyboard predicts that my typeracer scores will fall when I get my old laptop fixed.

The model that it is about the typeracer UI predicts that if I randomized which UI I use, the I would in general, score better on the new one. (Also, typeracer must have data on that, en mass.)

It turns out that I am MUCH faster on my own text

I did try the experiment that I suggested in the last post, trying to type my own text, instead of typeracer samples. I used the custom setting on typing-speedtest.com and pseudo-randomly selected paragraphs from my posts on this blog.

And…

Well, I’m much faster when I’m typing my own text.

My average speed, across 12 samples was 78.1 wpm (about 10 to 15 wpm higher than the average of my recent typeracer sessions), and there was not a single sample that was below 70 wpm. My average accuracy was 98.0%.

#WPMAccuracyText
172.596.7I’m not sure what to do to get around this trade-off. Like the thing that I have been trying is going back to focusing on smoothness, hoping that that becomes more automated and easier to do, and some of that will then be the default when I add the speed back in. But that hasn’t seemed to happen, and maybe this is the wrong model of skill acquisition in general.
282.398.95I seem to be making a lot of doubling errors now than I have been over the past few weeks, and I don’t know why. This happens when I am focusing on smoothness and when I am focusing on speed.
379.9798.68If this is the case, it seems like I should be able to improve my typeracer scores a lot by carefully reading the text while waiting for the race to start. So far, I have been avoiding reading the text in advance, because I seem to think that this actually decreases my ability to read the words correctly, because I fill in what I’m reading with other parts of what I just read.
476.4399.63Recently, my schedule has been such that about half my sleep period has been after sunrise. All all the curtains and windows are closed when I’m asleep, but in previous months, I had additionally been sleeping in a kind of “fort” with a sheet draped over the bed area.
576.9199.12The issue with this is that it takes attention and consciousness to do for real (unless I happen to already have clarity about what my local goals are), and many times at the end of the day I’ll default to going through the motions / half-assing it, without really deliberating, considering costs, or getting in touch with what I care about.
686.6297.99Maybe I should start from something lightweight, that might organically expand? Like maybe I should just take a moment each night to check if I have clarity about my goals and my first hour tomorrow.
776.9998.2But I’m not going to worry about this for now. Maybe as I do more of this it will get faster and more intuitive, and if that doesn’t happen automatically than I can start seeing if I can identify was to improve my process.
880.5599.42So I have a tool that is probably sufficient for avoiding the absurd sleep latencies that I sometimes have. But I want to keep tinkering with it and see what I come up with.
973.2796.93If this goes well, I’ll end up taking a nap every afternoon, and going biphasic, because as I said, Arizona is hot, and it would be great to be asleep during the hottest part of the day, and then awake for longer when it’s cool.
1086.16100But I already have a plan in motion for getting traction on my poor sleep latency. And in the meantime, I want to get a headstart on looking at the data I have, in case it suggests experiments that I should start doing.
1174.2896.58(I could imagine that I am succumbing to some kind of statistical illusion by which I am seeing patterns in data that are consistent with random noise. Can any of my readers tell me if there’s some analytical method that I could use to tell one way or the other?)
1272.4194.57Well, “learn” is an awfully strong word. It isn’t as if there was anything in here that was solid enough that I came away with different beliefs. More like, I promoted some hypotheses, so that if I get evidence related to any of them in the future, I’ll know to pay attention.

In fact, I was very clearly rushing a lot, especially in the later samples, because I felt a lot of psychological pressure to have high scores, so I could probably go at least a little faster by being more careful and making fewer errors.

So this is kind of embarrassing. I don’t know for how long my typing (on my own text) has been this fast. For all I know, I’ve been able to do this since June. I don’t think that’s true. I think that the work that I did bringing up my accuracy really did matter a lot. And I bet I could do some archeology to get some sense of that.

Maybe the last 50 hours of typing practice were a complete waste, insofar as I was over my actual target already, and not showing much improvement. Maybe the past 100 hours. Maybe more.

It is somewhat surprising that typing on my own text is so much faster than typing on typeracer text samples. Subjectively, it feels like my own text is using smaller words, or is a stream of smaller words, compared to typeracer. I don’t think that that is objectively true…or maybe it is, maybe I mostly use simple nouns and adjectives with occasional technical vocabulary.

Or maybe it is just that my own text is more familiar to me?

Anyway, there is definitely a lesson in here about checking in with your actual goal, regularly, and hewing to that, and not getting carried away with instrumental targets. In this case, I did want to figure out how to systematically break 70 wpm on typeracer, in addition to my original goal of being able to type 70+ wpm on my own text, but I don’t think that hitting that extra goal was worth dozens or maybe hundreds of hours.

So…I guess I fucked up hard?

And I guess this project is basically over, except for writing up a debrief?

Strangely, I don’t feel that emotional about this one way or the other. I don’t feel excited about having finished, or frustrated about not having checked this earlier. Overall, I feel kind of bland or neutral. Its a bit anti-climactic.

But…yep. This happened.

Some metacognition on my typing

I’m feeling kind of frustrated that I’m not making more typing progress.

In some sense, it feels like I am so close: I have had spurts in which I am over my target line.

But on the flip side: I can’t seem to beat that target reliably, and I don’t know what to do, and I would really like to finish this project before the end of the year.

So I’m just going to take some time here to free-write and orient on how to think about this.

First of all, it really seems like I focus on going fast or I can focus on typing smoothly, but I don’t know how to do both. When I focus on typing smoothly, my speed is on the order of 65 wpm, and my accuracy is around 99%. When I focus on going fast, I make more errors: my average speed rises to around 68 wpm, but my accuracy drops to around 98.5%.

I’m not sure what to do to get around this trade-off. Like the thing that I have been trying is going back to focusing on smoothness, hoping that that becomes more automated and easier to do, and some of that will then be the default when I add the speed back in. But that hasn’t seemed to happen, and maybe this is the wrong model of skill acquisition in general.

I seem to be making a lot of doubling errors now than I have been over the past few weeks, and I don’t know why. This happens when I am focusing on smoothness and when I am focusing on speed.

It seems like all of my insertion errors are a matter of completing a different, but similar, word.

For one sample today, I got a low accuracy score, and then redid the sample, and did it perfectly, with a speed in the 80s. This single datapoint seems suggestive to me that the thing that is hard about this to me is perceptual, ie that a big chunk of the problem is not in getting my fingers to make the right kinds of movements, but rather in getting the right words in my head in the first place. And doing a second sample, gives me enough time to get the words in my head, correctly?

If this is the case, it seems like I should be able to improve my typeracer scores a lot by carefully reading the text while waiting for the race to start. So far, I have been avoiding reading the text in advance, because I seem to think that this actually decreases my ability to read the words correctly, because I fill in what I’m reading with other parts of what I just read.

I also know that I want to try typing my own text. The goal of this project as stated was to get to systematically typing at 70 wpm on my own text, but I’ve also wanted to nail it on typeracer in addition. I might try it with my own text and find that actually I already type at more than 70 wpm when the words are exactly the ones that I would have typed (because I did type them).

Maybe that is the next thing that I should try.

I could also look over my list of all the things that I did leading up to my effective spurt a few weeks back, and try doing those again. Maybe some of those were where the efficacy was.

[I’m going to try typing my own text and then come back to this.]