Spaced repetition may be a helpful tool to develop or change habits

Imagine that you read an article which suggests something like this:

Going around in circles with a challenging prioritization exercise? If none of the factors seems especially decisive on their own, you’re probably not going to get anywhere with a big pro/con table. You’ll need to either create new choices, identify more powerful axes of evaluation, or accept that you can’t make a strongly-informed choice.

You could memorize pieces of this with a Spaced repetition memory system, but you can also use the same system to help “install” this habit in your mind. Here are some example questions you might try:

Q: Recall a situation in which you went around in circles endlessly trying to prioritize various options. (Generate one you haven’t thought about before for this question)
A: blank

Q: Imagine an unusual series of concrete steps you might take next time you find yourself stuck in an unclear prioritization exercise. (Generate a series of steps that you haven’t generated before)
A: blank

Q: Imagine a specific situation in which you would have trouble escaping a prioritization quagmire by finding a single decisive factor. (Generate one you haven’t thought about before)
A: blank

After you’ve answered this type of prompt about a specific habit a few times, it’s often helpful to make much more specific prompts to reinforce that habit. For example (via Kanjun, 2020-07-01): “When I pick up my toothbrush in the morning…” “…get my phone and open Anki.”

This is an example of Spaced repetition systems can be used to program attention.


Conversation with Florent Crivello, 2019-11-17

Related notion from Alexey Guzey: Instilling Novel Thought Patterns and Making Your Long-Term Memory Accountable with Anki - Alexey Guzey

Last updated 2023-07-13.