Quick Thoughts on Covid-19

I don’t have expertise to comments on covid-19 as a medical phenomenon. But here, briefly, are some of my thoughts on psychological dimensions.

  1. Stoicism provides potentially helpful attitudes with which to address adversity. The covid-19 situation is opportunity/reminder to practice Stoicism, and to try to become better at it. Check out the Stoic Meditation podcast series by Massimo Pigliucci and This Rationally Speaking podcast episode on stoicism.
  2. It’s an opportunity to study mental perturbance and other “emotion-like” mental states in oneself and others.
  3. It’s an opportunity to apply principles of cognitive productivity such as: to regulate one’s information-processing time; to make a point of selecting resources that are high caliber, useful, and potent, which are not necessarily appealing (CUP-A principles); to delve deeply, etc.
  4. It’s also an opportunity to improve one’s mastery of cognitive productivity principles, i.e., meta-effectiveness (effectiveness at using knowledge to become more effective).

The above implies it’s an opportunity to use information processing technology well. For instance:

  • One can use the Pinboard bookmarking service to keep track of one’s reading, to tag web pages, and to postpone reading material that is appealing but not necessarily helpful. (Hint: covid-19 material, even if about an aversive subject, may be appealing: designed to grab your attention.)
  • One can take notes about one’s reading. If one isn’t spending much time taking notes about one’s reading it might be that one isn’t sufficiently challenging oneself.
  • One can use Daniel Alm’s time tracking app, Timing, to quantify the time one spends on news sites and Twitter, compared to time on core projects. (See also the mySelfQuantifier project on this website.)

While these principles overlap with some of Cal Newport’s “Deep Work” principles, they do not imply digital minimalism. Instead cognitive productivity calls for using and mastering a wide variety of information processing tools (conceptual tool and software).

Delving deeply

On the subject of reading deeply mentioned above, compare this recent article by Ron Burnett, “On plain writing”. Yes, it’s about writing, but it also deals with reading.

Stress management

Getting enough good quality sleep is helpful for one’s immune system; this involves regulating one’s stress levels. Compare these tips on the mySleepButton web site.

Published by

Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity books. Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. Adjunct Professor of Cognitive Science & of Education, Simon Fraser University. Why, Where, and What I Write. See About Me for more information.

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