Summary: 

The Pentathlon is an online 2-week-long “friendly competition” where you score points individually and as a team on five categories: Most Important Work (minutes), Health, Sleep, Nutrition, and Planning. Pentathlon helps participants improve their daily habits and make a lot of progress on one specific project, in an encouraging and warm environment (where you'll definitely root for your team!).  The Pentathlon runs from Saturday, October 15, to Saturday, October 30. Last time, there were over 40 EA participants. Sign up soon!


How to sign up

Sign up with a team of <15 participants ($300)

Sign up with a team of 15+ participants (custom pricing)

Sign up an individual and get matched with other EAs ($80)

Details:

Targets

Attendees set their own daily targets in five areas: Most Important Work (minutes), Exercise, Sleep, Nutrition, and Planning for 14 days.  

Some of the reasons why people enjoy the Pentathlon include the following: 

  • To improve or step up their daily habits, notably by implementing better systems
  • To make a lot of progress on one specific project
  • To make new professional and personal connections 
  • To find other people to cowork with on a regular basis
  • To contribute to their team/group house/EA group's spirit and motivation with a common short project.

Two options to join:

  • Create or Join an existing team: Teams from EA organizations and local groups in past Pentathlons have included CEA, Momentum, the Good Food Institute, Charity Entrepreneurship,  Oxford Trajan House, GovAI, EA national groups, EA Houses, and more. 
  • Join as an individual: If you join as an individual, the Ultraworking team and I will work to make teams based on cause areas, geography and timezone, and overall Pentathlon participation "intensity" (from relatively chill to very intense).

EA organizations have a good track record: last time, EA teams were on the second and third march of the podium. Before this, an EA organization reached first place. 

Where it will happen: on the app of Ultraworking, Headquarters and Slack (a shared Slack with all EA teams). There is an intro event on Zoom (which is really important to meet your team and define the vibe). 

Reasons not to join:

There is a bit of admin to deal with. The setup time for the app and overall competition (if you don't have it already) is around 35 min. You need to self-report your score ~daily.  

There is really a sense of a team, and you'll want to be an active part of it, with your one Slack channel. Ideally, you're part of a vibrant team with one daily (or a bit less frequent) check-in, but you can also define the intensity of this with your team.

Optionally, you can also participate in the wider EA Slack Pentathlon, sharing funny memes or lifehacks.

 

More details are here.

If you have any questions that aren’t answered by this document, your point of contact is Xavier at Ultraworking - see his email address on the linked document.

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10 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:21 AM

Are there any specific recommendations on how to meet these targets consistently in the long run? I'm afraid that I could meet my targets by just trying harder and being more conscious about them for a few weeks, but this won't lead to better long-term habits and I'll just return to baseline.

Focus on building sustainable habits that get easier over time rather than sprinting briefly. There are good sources for this, such as the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. 

I think this is totally fair and another reason not to do the Pentathlon: the Pentathlon is often particularly useful for the two weeks of the competition, but the habits often don't hold very well after. If you want to make the habits endure, I recommend setting up strong systems during the Pentathlon and holding yourself accountable for keeping them afterwards. For example,  the Pentathlon's sleep target will possibly lead you to set up an alarm on your phone, your computer, or your programmed lightbulbs, etc. to go to bed on time.  Set up a target of keeping them for one month after the Pentathlon, and set up an accountability system for that (a bet with a friend, a bet with a friend you met during the Pentathlon, etc).

There are often discussions on the Pentathlon Slack about these questions so people can help each other problem-solve!

just trying harder and being more conscious about them for a few weeks, but this won't lead to better long-term habits

It's a big question, but a partial answer is identifying patterns that work for you and designing around them for the long term. Doing a retrospective on successful times, identifying the causal factors, and then designing them into one's tools, workflows, environment, social circle, lifestyle, etc seems to be a big part of success.

Hi all,

I'm the CEO over at Ultraworking. I've been adjacent to the broader Effective Altruism communities for a long time — I ran a 100% volunteer nonprofit called GiveGetWin a decade ago, where we did cool charity projects and funded experimental potential high impact philanthropic innovations. Part of the rationality community for a long time. 

After Caroline really liked the Pentathlon personally and for her team when she was at CHAI before Oxford, she asked if we could do something custom for people in EA at large — and the answer is of course yes, very grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to help and support people in longtermist communities.

If there's answer questions, happy to answer. If there's ever anything I can do to help, please let me know - sebastian at ultraworking.com - really happy to take some time out if there's anything that'd be helpful. If anyone doing good work in EA is just starting out and if anything we're doing isn't affordable, let me know and we'll set up you at no charge. Likewise if you're running a group or even and we can facilitate a little bit on some productivity/coordination side of things - our whole team cares about the work that's happening in EA / X-Risk / AI Safety, and happy to help in any way we can.

To be clear, can I join if I’m not affiliated with an org? The google doc says “ If you’re at an EA org, you can join at a very deeply discounted price and get some special customization designed specifically for you” and I’m not sure of the implicature.

You can definitely join as an individual! You'll then be matched to an EA team (probably made of other individuals). Would love to have you!

Maybe you could start an "EA Forum" team? I bet they'd approve that, but I know nothing :)

Yes! If people are interested in joining an "EA Forum" team, they can either coordinate here or via EA Forum DMs. Otherwise, join as an individual and specify you want to join an EA Forum team and we'll match you with others!

For the upcoming Pentathlon this January: Is there anything I can do to increase the odds of being teamed up with fellow-EAs if I am not working for an EA org?