Found in 12 comments on Hacker News
Adaptive · 2015-04-05 · Original thread
The most accurate answer in the thread, though too brief and thus will be easily dismissed. In the interest of fleshing out this answer in such a way as to make it useful:

For those interested in why this is the most accurate answer, go read "Willpower" by Baumeister.

I am always surprised, though shouldn't be I suppose, that the first answer for so many people is some completely externalized solution (e.g. blockers, network disconnection, etc.).

There are tools that can help you to create habits, but you must be aware of the role that self-regulation plays in ongoing maintenance of these habits, otherwise the moment the tools or support infrastructures you've put in place are gone, your habits will revert.

Don't make your self control reliant on app updates.

Adaptive · 2014-12-03 · Original thread
One of the researchers mentioned in the article, Roy Baumeister, wrote a book that I enjoyed (entitled "Willpower"). He gave a talk about willpower and glucose levels which you can see some of here:

It's not a completely pop-science book, more a translation of his research into an approachable lay-person format. I recommend it.

(edit - link to book: )

cscheid · 2013-08-10 · Original thread
"Willpower" ( calls what you're describing "precommitment", and claims it does work consistently well.
lukifer · 2013-07-16 · Original thread
Willpower requires an expenditure of glucose in the brain [1]. When one is used to a high-sugar diet, the blood sugar burns off quickly, despite being slowed by insulin response, and the body craves more, with the brain being glucose-depleted to resist the impulse. This is not to absolve anyone of personal responsibility, but like gambling, it is a losing proposition over time.

The fact is, we're all wired a little differently. Some who drink too much can simple moderate; some find the need to temporarily or permanently quit drinking altogether. Anyone trapped in the "metabolic syndrome" of a sugary diet will probably be more successful doing the latter.


lpolovets · 2012-12-25 · Original thread
I really liked Succeed by Halvorson, as well as Willpower by Baumeister and Tierney. The former covers research on setting goals, the latter covers research on being more disciplined. Both book are a great blend of interesting studies and practical advice.

Amazon links: and

Thorough book notes: and

boofar · 2012-03-22 · Original thread
Half-relevant: Funnily, I just arrived at this passage in "Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength"[1]:

"We devoted chapter 3 to the glorious history of the to-do list, but we realize that some readers might still not feel like drawing one up. It can sound dreary and off-putting. If so, try thinking of it as a todon’t list: a catalog of things that you don’t have to worry about once you write them down. As we saw in our discussion of the Zeigarnik effect, when you try to ignore unfinished tasks, your unconscious keeps fretting about them in the same way that an ear worm keeps playing an unfinished song. You can’t banish them from your brain by procrastinating or by willing yourself to forget them. But once you make a specific plan, your unconscious will be mollified. You need to at least plan the specific next step to take: what to do, whom to contact, how to do it (in person? by phone? by e-mail?). If you can also plan specifically when and where to do it, so much the better, but that’s not essential. As long as you’ve decided what to do and put it on the list, your unconscious can relax."


That research eventually turned into a great book:

Probably the most useful bit or research (also described much less technically in that book) is this:</a>

cshipley · 2011-10-24 · Original thread
Here is what I did. Perhaps it would work for you:

- Create a todo list. Each thing must be specific, measurable and unambiguous. Update it every day, first thing. - Grab a copy of "Will Power": Awesome book. - Find someone to work with, or an accountability group. Working with someone is a great motivator for me. - Track your time. See how much time you're spending on which thing, (or nothing). - If you've been procrastinating on something or more than a month, then maybe you should remove it from your list. - Have a clear understanding of where you're going and why. Perhaps your expectations of yourself are too high?

chugger · 2011-10-16 · Original thread
I use to not eat breakfast everyday for 18+ years. it was something I just didn't do. It wasn't until 2 years ago that I started feeling the effects: chronic fatigue, I was always feeling lethargic, etc. eating breakfast changed everything (a healthy diet really).

Check out this book about Willpower and the role of glucose.

lpolovets · 2011-09-18 · Original thread
The article was written by one of the coauthors of Willpower ( I read this book last week and it was terrific. A great blend of fascinating studies and practical advice. Also, while many pop psych books rehash the same studies over and over, Willpower featured many results that I had not encountered before, like these findings about parole hearings. Highly recommended book.
Forget about the spammy title, this is an amazing book on copy writting:

Cashvertising: (all links have my affiliate link. On my way to richness baby! ;)

I'm currently reading this one, so far so good:

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

This is a small list of books I want to read:

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal

The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home

rkalla · 2011-09-03 · Original thread
A really excellent followup to the study that was linked to around here about 6 months ago that found out "willpower" is an exhaustible resource that needs to be managed throughout your day.

The book[1] this article is reviewing discusses learning to exercise your will power through little mini tasks throughout the day (sit up straight, don't curse, don't eat the whole cake, pickup your desk before going to lunch, etc.) as a means of strengthening that skill.

In their studies they found that employing little tasks like that actually made the willpower muscle (let's call it) stronger, leading to more control over your day.

As to "why do I care?" both studies show that people with more willpower generally end up happier with their lives.

This article does make an interesting point that people with ultimate willpower are not markedly happier than people with nominal amounts of it, so you don't necessarily need to train your willpower muscle to the point of entering the willpower olympics, just slightly stronger than you have now (assuming it is weakened) to enjoy a happier life.


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