The blog I Will Teach You To Be Rich features an excellent article by Cal Newport. Cal is a very successfull computer scientist and in this blogpost he reveals the secrets of his astonishing high productivity rate:
This past summer, for example, I completed my PhD in computer science at MIT. Simultaneous with writing my dissertation I finished the manuscript for my third book, which was handed in a month after my PhD defense and will be published by Random House in the summer of 2010. During this past year, I also managed to maintain my blog, Study Hacks, which enjoys over 50,000 unique visitors a month, and publish over a half-dozen peer-reviewed academic papers.
Put another way: I’m no slacker. But with only a few exceptions, all of this work took place between 8:30 and 5:30, only on weekdays. (My exercise, which I do every day, is also included in this block, as is an hour of dog walking. I really like my post-5:30 free time to be completely free.)
Here are some of Cal’s tips:
- Be ruthlessly results oriented. Analyse everything that comes on your path to see wether it will help you achieve results.
- Be very clear when people you deal with can expect results and keep your promises
- Refuse all potential projects if you queue is too crowded
- Don’t be afraid to drop a project when it turns out to be a drain on your time and energy or strays from your goals.
- Try to be less visible or available to others, for instance by working in less visible places, like a corner of a library.
- Batch and habitatize, try to create a habit of regularly occuring tasks by performing them on a fixed time of day.
- Start early on projects.
- Stick to your schedule if it works and do not appologize to people when they demand more access.
What I like about this post is that although the author quits working at 5.30 PM and never works on weekends, he is very productive. So apparently, there is a paradox: limiting yourself, you will perform better.
Last year, I studied the Rule of Benedict and how it can be applied to time management. See this book if you want to learn more. I use it often to create my own time boxes: I set a timer to 60 minutes and focus myself to keep on working on the same task for this period. But when the timer is ended and the hour is over, I immediately stop. Then I pauze for 15 minutes before I start another sequence, often a very different task. It’s a bit like time box management.
Here is a link to the complete article:
Time management: How an MIT postdoc writes 3 books, a PhD defense, and 6+ peer-reviewed papers and finishes by 5:30pm | I Will Teach You To Be Rich