Self-Terminating vs Inertial Activities

(This post has been imported from an old blog of mine.)

I listen to a podcast called Cortex, a productivity maybe show, or “listening in on a monthly discussion of work over lunch.”* In episode 66, they discussed a book about behavioral change, and seems to be based on evidence instead of the “just follow these steps” other self-help books spout.

During their discussion, Grey mentioned the idea of self-terminating vs inertial activities. Some activities suck up way more time than you thought they would (e.g. watching entertainment, playing video games), while others take exactly the time they should (a commute to work, or a shower). Grey finds script-writing, exercise, reading (tasks his future self is happy with his completion of) are all self-terminating tasks, whereas activities to spend little time on (such as watching Netflix and playing Factorio), he ends up spending far more time on.**

I find this idea beneficial to think about. With the exception of programming, it seems that everything I should be doing (but don’t, or don’t nearly enough) is a self-terminating activity, and everything I shouldn’t be doing as much of is an inertial activity. For example, I want to get into writing again, and I’m certainly done writing as soon as I’m done with this post.

I’ll end it here with a copule lists of activities I find self-terminating or inertial, each of which is something I spend too much time on, or not enough time on.

Self-terminating activities

  • Showering
  • Brushing my teeth
  • Cooking/eating (in general, but especially with healthier foods)
  • Making YouTube videos
  • Writing

Inertial activities

  • Playing video games, especially Factorio, Minecraft, Minetest (and maybe American Truck Simulator)
  • Browsing the internet
  • Watching YouTube

I’m intentionally listing things that fit the model of self-terminating activities as productive and inertial activities as unproductive. It’s also just a preview of things on top of my mind right now. I’ll be thinking this through a bit more on my own time.

* Yes, I know they are not monthly episodes, but they feel kind of like it to me. :/
** Took these examples specifically from his reply to this comment on reddit.