A regularized approach to optimize your life

Recently, accompanying the pandemic, there is a new trend of the so-called anti-optimization movements targeting the ever-more-burning-out knowledge workers.

While I immensely enjoyed the book such as this and the slow-productivity concept, I want to make an important distinction, that many in the productivity space seem to have misunderstood what optimization is. In my previous posts, I made clear that we, as decision-makers in our lives, are responsible for defining the “optimization problem”. Now, I want to propose a regularized approach to optimizing one’s life. (Machine learners know the importance of regularization.)

An example. We may view our decision-making system in life as to solve

In this framework, productivity addicts that fanatically optimize their morning routine are clearly not making the best decision — since doing so will trigger a huge overhead! You can then equally swap the overhead piece with time-with-loved-ones, sanity, well-being. In this way, optimization is not about losing sight of what’s essential, but about having a clear purpose when designing your life such that well-being is a huge factor of decision-making, rather than maximizing the amount of trivial work done.

Written on December 21, 2021