Self Configuration


It only takes a moment to free up more time to think about how you can improve your life. An improvement is an activity that allows more improvement to happen. Each strike of the improvement hammer makes room for more. For example, can you free up some of your time and attention by unsubscribing from streaming services or Youtube channels? If you are a feed addict, then maybe look into News Feed Eradicator for Chrome to stop being constantly distracted by novelty? If you’re on slack, can you change your notification settings and expectations to keep work at work?

These improvements may seem small, but they add up. The biggest improvements you can make are:


See @BryanJohnson’s Self Aided Destructive Behavior

For self-improvement efforts to make a meaningful impact, regressing should be harder than maintaining such that the improvements are sustained. Humans tend to regress easier than a robot. If you have irregular sleeping habits, then getting one good night’s sleep won’t be enough. It shouldn’t feel like effort once you set it up. Ideally, it should be automatic. But unlike robots, our bodies can’t be programmed. However we can approximate automation with configuration.

Inspired by Levels of driving automation, there are many ways to stop ourselves from Self-aided destruction.

Automation level / effortExample
0 / Trying really hardTrying hard not to eat those cookies
1 / Something helps youThe wife says don’t eat the cookies
2 / Something forces youThe wife stops your hand from eating the cookies
3 / Something blinds youNo more grocery shopping, so can’t buy cookies
4 / You can’t seeSleeping, can’t eat cookies
5 / There is no tryOn a remote island, can’t eat anything but fish and coconuts

Self configuration is the management of inputs to self-nurture. Inputs to self can be categorized into:

It’s making the habits, heuristics, checklists, reminders, alarms, motivational posters, or whatever else it is that influences your decision before you make the decision for the desired behavior. Over the years, I accumulated several of these in my life. Some examples:

Although none of these turn me fully automatic, these simple rules are easy to remember and implement. Once I configured myself with these rules, it’s hard to go back to not having these rules.


My personal experience with these simple rules have been remarkably positive and consistent. I am more lucid for longer each day with good sleep. I am thinking about my original thoughts more often than repeating other peoples’ social media when idle. I am able to focus for longer to be able to write blog posts such as these in one or two cafe sessions.

I hope that you will share some of your configurations with me and the rest of the world. Building ourselves for a better world is more fulfilling than building yet another social-local-mobile media feed app. As we continue to build our autonomous self, the improvements will stack up so that we can be free to pursue whatever we want during the extra focused hours each day. I hope to spend those hours helping others improve their configuration.