Beware Tractability Bias | Scott H Young - Deepstash
Beware Tractability Bias | Scott H Young

Beware Tractability Bias | Scott H Young


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Beware Tractability Bias | Scott H Young

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Understanding tractability bias

People crave progress. But that desire can distort what we work on. Some pursuits are more easily measured than others. This leads to tractability bias - the tendency to focus on goals with more noticeable progress.

Vital pursuits with greater potential often have less tangible progress.


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With real work, frustrations and fatigue get bigger with each failure. If we don't show signs of success, we may abandon a project altogether. It's much easier to work on routine tasks that deliver immediate rewards.

But the more manageable routine tasks that we can tick off don't steer us to the real work that helps us advance in our career.


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Tractable tasks are easier. Most people will reach for the easier tasks, increasing competition for that work.

But people often shrink back from complicated work. If you can slog through the difficulties, it becomes more valuable because the competition is reduced. However, not all important work is intractable. We have to pay attention to where intractability and importance meet.


408 reads

There are efforts we can make in our productivity that can keep us from easy satisfaction.

  • Elevate the status of your sincere attempts. Measure your day by the deep work you took on.
  • Narrow what counts as the "real" work. Only keep track of your deep work, and not by email, calls and other simple activities.
  • Stop tracking. If counting the number of books you read keeps you from reading longer important works - stop counting.


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