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Pmarca Guide to Personal Productivity (2007) (pmarchive.com)
145 points by tosh 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 68 comments

While I think that completely avoiding a calendar or any fixed appointments is a bit unrealistic (think of doctor's appointments), I agree and deeply sympathize with the gist of it. One of the main reasons I quit my previous job was that I was unable to get any meaningful work done, because the day was very tightly organized around a central ticketing system. Oh, you had a nice idea to solve one of the problems in the long-term project the company is currently working on? Too bad, because there are already 4, oh wait, 5, high-priority tickets waiting for you, and by the time you have finished those, you will have forgotten the idea. This happened so frequently and was so frustrating that after a few months I just shut off my brain and was basically a robot finishing off tickets assigned to me. Needless to say, I felt miserable for 1.5 years.

After I quit, I lived off my savings for 6 months and literally had no schedule of any kind. I woke up and did whatever I was interested in. I got more work done in these 6 months than in the 2 years before.

wow i feel a lot like you describe. I've been thinking about taking a few months off just to reset and somehow figure out what I want to really be doing but... it's scary. I have the money saved up for it to not be a problem. But after the 6 months... then what?

What did you end up doing? Any advice?

If you aren't interested in freelance work, try to look for companies with a dedicated research team. You usually won't find that in smaller companies, as they cannot afford a few people trying to solve a problem for 2 years with only a 60% chance of success.

PS: if you are really unhappy with your job (to the point where it affects you physically), don't think it will magically get better if you stay. It won't. This hope wasted 1 year of my life.

> When someone emails or calls to say, "Let's meet on Tuesday at 3", the appropriate response is: "I'm not keeping a schedule for 2007, so I can't commit to that, but give me a call on Tuesday at 2:45 and if I'm available, I'll meet with you."

Is it just me, or does this come off as exceptionally arrogant? It's literally just telling people to plan their lives around yours. It just seems like time spent with this individual is a token of charitable _grace_. This is the opposite of what I'd expect professional behavior to look like.

"It's literally just telling people to plan their lives around yours", I agree, but on the other hand why should people have the right to tell you to plan your life around theirs, isn't that arrogant of them?

Regarding this, and also not answering the phone, and turning off email, it depends on what sort of job you have.

For me this is all about: my best work comes from when I'm in the flow. So I'll do anything to avoid being taken out of it.

I am a software developer, freelance, mostly work from home. I have deadlines, and I mostly work in fixed-price projects so the longer it takes the less I earn per unit time. I can get high-quality work done the fastest when I'm in the flow.

Is it the right of the customer to call me and interrupt me from my flow? I've agreed to deliver the software by a certain time for a certain price, that's it. They might be my client, but I did not agree to be reachable at any time for any impromptu meeting on any topic of their choosing. I agreed to deliver software, not reachability.

It's literally a zero-sum game. They want help planning something, or they have a question, they're in the flow about that, they don't want to be taken out of that flow. On the other hand, I'm in the flow about my thing, and don't want to be taken out of it. It's perfect for the other people if I always do what they want, but sometimes you have to stick up for yourself and do what's best for you.

Calling them back a few hours later when I'm out of the flow, or emailing them back 6 hours later the same day, has always worked out well for me.

I understand that not all jobs are like that. What I mean to say, it's nevertheless wrong to assume that no jobs are like that. Mine is like that, and the approach to using the phone outlined in the article. is great advice.

The examples you have given aren't really a proper equivalent to what is being described in this article here.

Scheduling isn't meant to be some Randian, individualistic practice. It's a collaborative effort between people that should say something of the effect, "My time is valuable, as is yours. You seem to be interested in something I'm doing and I'm interested in telling you about it. Let's find a time that's agreeable to both of us where we are both unencumbered and can freely associate."

If you're not interested in meeting, then you have options: 1) Ghosting (controversial, but some requests deserve this response), or 2) Refusing to meet.

Instead this reads as, "I value my time far more than anyone else I associate with. If I so happen to be available, then I'll reward you with the charity of my time."

One of these is professional and makes other people you associate with feel valued, the other makes you look like an arrogant ass.

100%. That actually made me mad. I took that time off to talk to you, so you better be there. I may have even spent time preparing to talk to you, so not only have you canceled and thrown out my day, you've wasted my time.

>Or, if it's important, say, "You know what, let's meet right now."

This would become the messaging for every meeting, at which point you've now limited all issues to being category 1 issues and can expect a meeting on anything at any time. It's like how during UAT when you tell the client you're only going to deal with critical issues, suddenly they are all critical.

In this case the person would communicate "I am not reserving time on a calendar this year", so you'd know that you needn't reserve time or prepare for the meeting, as the person has not agreed to it.

Ah, so you wouldn't try to hold a meeting, and would have to just accept that working with them means that you can never meet, unless they desire to.

Some of the points in this article I disagree with but others I like. Compared to my past self I am "super productive". I have a full-time career, a single parent to two young kids (approx 70% of the time I'm not at work I'm parenting) and I study nearly full time (3 units per semester) with a perfect GPA. I somehow still have time for "wasting", like commenting on online discussion boards, going on dates, etc.

* Keeping lists: This one is huge. I have lists all the time which track what I need to have completed and when. I have watch lists for tasks like "get birthday present for this kids party", etc. I have a job list at work.

Procrastination: I use this all the time. It's currently 7:23pm here, I'm wasting time now and I have been since 6pm but my deadline is I wake at 4am tomorrow to work.

Food: This article touches on food but I feel it's really important. I eat low carb because I find carbs make me far more tired. I also avoid large meals because they make me tired.

Something that isn't touched on in the article: Find ways to save yourself time. I get angry when I see an office worker earning 6 figures typing one finger looking at the keys. Touch typing doesn't take long to learn but it saves so much time and effort. Everyone has little quirks that take time/effort to fix but pay off in a big way once fixed. Do it, it's worth it.

This sounds unreal: Job + parenting + study?

How are you doing this? This can't just come from keeping lists and or touch typing?!

Can you give me some background on what you are doing?


- 8 hours of work (a generous estimate).

- 4 to 6 hours of parenting (between children's wake time in the morning and the evening).

- Commute time? Is she driving? Public transit? Other? We'll neglect this.

- 3 hours on study (an hour per day per semester hour).

With a two hour commute, that's a 19 hour day. Without, 17 hours.

That leaves no room for other daily necessities, though those could be built into the 4 to 6 hours of parenting time? I don't know. Alls I have to parent is a dog, and she's pretty low maintenance.

Now, suppose she front-loads her decision making onto those lists a la the Getting Things Done method. Then, she doesn't have to put much thought in to what next for this or that thing?. She can just look at her list for whatever thing, see what's next, and do it.

[edit] I think what she claims she is doing is possible, I just don't "have what it takes". I'm not even sure "what it takes". [/edit]

Personally, I struggle with focus, energy, and decision making. I've tried lists, and other things. Sometimes I think it is a discipline issue, other times I think its diet, lack of exercise, or maybe even my semi-regular sleep schedule. I'm not really sure, and I'm too tired to figure it out.

I see or hear of other people who perform at this "three full time commitments" thing and I wonder at what I'm doing with my life that leaves me so far behind.

First, I'm a father (i.e. "he").

It's heavily about time management. On Monday and Tuesday nights I don't have my children. So Monday I wake at 4am, do 3 hours of uni, spend 30 minutes getting ready for work and have 30 minutes to travel to work. I work 8 hours but I have an hour for lunch (which I study in), getting home takes half an hour. That leaves me about an hour of free time and 3 more hours of study. 7.5 hours sleep.

So Monday hits 7 hours of uni, so does Tuesday. I also have Wednesday morning and 3 more lunches so now I've done 20 hours. Since I wake at 4am I can get 2 hours in the days I have kids and now I've hit the hours needed easily. If I have a lot of work due I can take a day of leave (maybe twice per semester).

I also have Sunday nights free and one Sat night + Sunday day free per fortnight. That's a lot more hours. I typically get most jobs done when I'm parenting. Parenting is actually really busy because after school pickup I have dinner, cleaning dinner, baths, homework, etc.

When do you exercise, grocery shop, meet teams at school, get sick, enjoy your hobbies, read for fun, catch up with friends or other parents, drive your kids to activities, help with homework and projects... ?

I'm glad this works for you, but for me (and I imagine many) a hyper "productive" schedule and life seems to be missing the simple joy of living and the flexibility of unscheduled opportunities. Again, if it works that is great but for many people the time management approach is not viable.

I'm in the military, I have an hour of PT every morning at work as part of my work day. I don't do any study when my kids are awake, they get my full attention. I take them grocery shopping Wednesday afternoon, I do nightly homework, we have activities on weekends and some school nights (i.e. this week is dentist Thursday and school disco night Friday). Most of my friends have children of similar ages so I tend to see them a lot on weekends. I simply spend my free time studying. The average North American watched 5 hours of media per day in 2015, that's 35 hours per week.

I know this life isn't for everyone, for me this is a necessary thing I need to do if I want to change from military to software development. I can't stay in the military forever as a single parent, it's simply not feasible, so I'm doing what I can to set myself up post-Army. It's not the most enjoyable life but it's temporary and it's an investment in my future. I'm not trying to say it's the solution for everyone but if you have goals you want to achieve then it's certainly a possible life for most people.

I think what a lot of people, especially parents, lack is energy. There is a reason I do most of my study in the early morning with a very early nightly bedtime, it's because I have more energy before work than after work. After 7 hours of study and 8 hours of work, I'm exhausted. When my head hits the pillow I'm out. It's probably a good part of the reason why so many people rack up 30+ hours of TV per day, they want to sit on the lounge doing nothing of a night. Having daily PT at work has been a blessing, it's kept a high level of fitness up and I feel this gives me more daily energy.

> Personally, I struggle with focus, energy, and decision making. I've tried lists, and other things. Sometimes I think it is a discipline issue, other times I think its diet, lack of exercise, or maybe even my semi-regular sleep schedule. I'm not really sure, and I'm too tired to figure it out.

Oof. Feels like I could have typed that myself.

Many of these "the power of scheduling" posts seem to be written from the vantage point of either a newly begun regimen or a high water mark that isn't reflective of the mode. I say this less as a judgement on others and more anecdotally for myself. I've had those weeks of high output, and they always came coupled with proud forum posts giving thanks to and detailing my careful scheduling. This is never sustainable and quickly crumbles apart.

Maybe I'm not trying hard enough or I'm missing some crucial detail. Or maybe a life of every detail planned isn't the right life for me.

I'm the one that this comment chain is replying too. I mention that I'm hyper-productive compared to my past self. For me, the change involved getting diagnosed with cancer about 3 years ago. I've posted here before about it but the experience led to a lot of reflection and I realised I didn't want to die because I was unhappy with the life I was living. If I was going to die I wanted to have had a good life. I'm all cancer free now but I've still got the drive to live a good life.

There is still a weekend with two full days.

Parenting time tends to take over most of the hours that would have been work-time, on weekends. At least until your kids are old enough that they don't want anything to do with you anymore (or so I hear).

With kids it's usually possible to do something either productive or fun alongside the whole kid-taking-care-of thing. It's just very hard to do anything you like that is productive or fun. You gotta roll with the punches. Typically things that require few unpredictable interruptions and that can't be done with your kid(s) (which varies greatly with their age) are out of the question unless they're in bed or someone else is watching them. Or you turn on Babysitter Television, of course.

This is very true in my experience. I covet and zealously guard the hours between 8pm and my bedtime and/or ~6am and when the kids wake up. It is very hard to do deep intellectual work when you have kids around, but easy to get more rote tasks completed.

It's a big part of the reason I do a lot of jobs with my kids. I teach them how to cook, we grocery shop and I discuss how adults purchase things, I fold the laundry in front of TV with them, etc. My 4-year-old son has shown a lot of interest in my tools lately and last week he helped me repair a cupboard. My deep intellectual work is after a nights rest when I wake at 4am (I go to bed at same time as my children, ~8pm).

>I get angry when I see an office worker earning 6 figures typing one finger looking at the keys. Touch typing doesn't take long to learn but it saves so much time and effort.

I think this is mostly an illusion, unless your job is writing. For stuff like SW, typing is usually not the limiting factor. Thinking is. For management, typing a lot usually equates to a large bureaucracy (and lots and lots of pointless emails).

Me? I can type without looking at the keyboard. One of the stars in my team cannot.

Flip the principle over: How many people have suddenly become more productive and "moved up" because they learned to type faster?

I am in a large bureaucracy and the person I'm thinking of probably types 5-8 WPM in a job that involves a lot of typing and gets paid over $120k.

ymmv but often typing isn’t the bottleneck, thinking is (typing faster != more nor better output)

But not having to think about typing reduces your cognitive load. Touch typing as a coder isn't about speed, it's about freeing your mind from having to think about your fingers.

Touch typing is somewhat overrated. I never learn to touch type and never had any regret over it, don't get me wrong, I do t peck for keys either but the speed of properly touch typing is no need for me, I'm not a professional typist. I on the other hand am great at remembering shortcuts and I think that's way more important to my work than touch typing, I feel that using the mouse to open a menu and click debug as a complete waste of resources and mental focus.

TBH for me touch typing wasn't as big of help as learning vim inside out.

And I see the same clumsy slowness when others touch type in front of me

While I totally agree with that, there are times when typing is my bottleneck. It's often the case that once I've figured out what I want to say, the next challenge is converting it into text. During that phase, I want to be able to quickly convert thought to words on a screen without any barriers.

Which points do you most disagree with and what's your alternative?

Not keeping a schedule, i.e. ""I'm not keeping a schedule for 2007, so I can't commit to that, but give me a call on Tuesday at 2:45 and if I'm available, I'll meet with you."".

I don't know too many people who would be happy about being told you value their time so much. I keep a tight schedule and I plan around it instead. I also don't feel the need for an index card each night. I already have my lists of jobs that I need to get done and some of those jobs are due tomorrow.

You get angry when you see someone does not touch type? This sounds petty and weird.

I don't think they actually get "angry", but rather pretty annoyed. I do the same thing. If someone asks me for help or something and I see them "hunting and pecking", then I get slightly annoyed that this person hasn't spent a couple hours learning how to properly type. It would save them so much time! I just want everyone to be more productive and something like typing is a pretty easy place to gain productivity.

I fall back on touch typing when I want to keep typos at a minimum, but it's so much slower for me than "hunting and pecking" (even though I don't look at the keyboard when doing it, so it's hardly "hunting"). But that speed increase comes at the cost of accuracy. If I could get speed parity with touch typing, it'd be amazing. I've spent days trying to learn. I don't know if I'll get there. Please forgive me, senpai. :C

I do get angry too, in a sense that this person has not spent any time optimizing when it's their full time job. How can a person who cannot optimize basic things for themselves be expected to lead a group? It smells a lot like either corruption or incompetence.

At this point, I hope you'd owe up to taking the burden proof that a person who cannot optimize basic things for themselves cannot be expected to lead a group

Um. "I don't keep a calendar" means "I consider my time more important than yours, so we'll meet at my sole convenience." I would love to do that, but everyone else in the world would rightly understand it that way and would treat it as a refusal to do core elements of my job.

A: "Let's schedule a committee meeting."

B: "I don't keep a calendar."

A: "So what you're saying is everyone else on the committee has to find time just for you? Fuck you, do your job."

Arnold Schwarzenegger could get away with that crap because he's a fabulously wealthy A-list movie star. The rest of us, not so much.

>Um. "I don't keep a calendar" means "I consider my time more important than yours, so we'll meet at my sole convenience." I would love to do that, but everyone else in the world would rightly understand it that way and would treat it as a refusal to do core elements of my job.

The advice is for free persons, not for us salaried workers.

(Not to mention that TFA already covers this: "I'm totally serious. If you pull it off -- and in many structured jobs, you simply can't" and again later: "Clearly this only works if you can get away with it. If you have a structured job, a structured job environment, or you're a CEO, it will be hard to pull off.").

See also: https://medium.com/incerto/how-to-legally-own-another-person...

So basically it's for the already affluent. "If you're rich and have no obligations only work when you want to" doesn't seem that novel. It's productivity when there's little value on said productivity.

You don't have to be affluent. You can be e.g. a freelancer graphic designer making at most 50-60K a year and do that. Or have a small company and do that. Or be a farmer and do that.

But the conclusion seems wrong "It's productivity when there's little value on said productivity." -- the productivity of the affluent has even more value (at least monetarily) than the productivity of some office worker.

You can be a designer whose willing to burn bridges and don't need to pay a mortgage, but yeah, you could be someone who doesn't need stuff. I'd love to see a farmer put off feeding the animals or not keep a schedule. "I'll just harvest the crops next month."

>Want to spend all day writing a research report? Do it!

>Want to spend all day coding? Do it!

>Want to spend all day at the cafe down the street reading a book on personal productivity? Do it!

These are not things someone who needs to work for a living can do, picking and choosing activities at their leisure.

Regarding "little value on said productivity", I meant value to the individual, not to society as a whole. If you can afford to squander opportunities clearly whatever you're producing isn't as vital to you as for others who need the productivity to continue be able to afford to live.

>These are not things someone who needs to work for a living can do, picking and choosing activities at their leisure.

It's not what someone who needs to work on somebody else's spec can do.

A writer living off his books, for example, even if they make just 50K/year, can shape their days however they want.

Or, to return to the freelancer, if you have a specialty, and people can to you, you can be picky about what jobs you do and when.

I know people that are like that and they are by no means rich.

Do novelist never attend meetings by their publisher? Same with freelancers - can you just blow off your client and commit to nothing?

I think the idea here is to minimize scheduling. Take note that this advice comes from a top VC; meetings are his bread and butter.

Not committing to a schedule greatly cuts down on the number of meetings. Most meetings are unnecessary, a huge cost to productivity. He also doesn't advice avoiding them, more like if it's important and high priority enough, everyone can agree to do one now.

It cuts out the fat of scheduling an important meeting 3 days later because a bunch of execs had 3 days of not so important meetings already scheduled.

Also one part of how Andreessen-Horowitz operates is that they absolutely cut out the wait time for founders trying to meet them. This is a part of that efficiency. They have to leave the rest of their hours open.

Hmm. It seems to me, but I'm not sure so please correct me, that a top VC is someone to whom others mostly come as supplicants, and hence can demand scheduling on his convenience rather than theirs.

To be a top VC, the VC has to land the top deals (Uber, Airbnb, etc). They land top deals by being attractive to top founders. The best startups often move very rapidly, having 10% week on week growth and such. Every hour is valuable to them. Partners are fined $10 for every minute they are late to a meeting, which gives an idea of how strongly they hold to the principle.

Good point, but actually, to you, your time is more important than everyone else's. You need to put yourself first.

When the oxygen mask falls from the ceiling of the airplane you're instructed to put yours on before helping others. You're not going to be helping anyone if you pass out.

And by the way, both you and Arnold Schwarzenegger are human beings and able to have some of the same experiences. Putting yourself down is not helpful.

Arnold Schwarzenegger can afford to lose a job, and his personal productivity can't make or break his ability to pay this month's mortgage.

You have to be willing to work with people, and you have to work with more powerful people on their terms.

Hmmm.. Are you secretly hoping that these powerful people will raise you to their level someday? Give you a just reward for your serfdom?

No, I'm saying if my boss tells me to be at a meeting everyday at 10 and I'm not there for 2 weeks I'm probably going to get fired.

Punctuality is overrated in general, and especially in software. Most meetings are a waste of time because no decision is made in them.

Wearing pants are overrated in general and a waste of time as well, but I'd be in trouble for forgetting them when going into the office as well.

One day we may need to call a meeting that no one thinks is worth their attention. There's plenty of hoops that one must work through in one's day to day that we just have to put up if we want to keep the business moving.

> Most meetings are a waste of time because no decision is made in them.

Most meetings are a waste of time, true.

No decisions are made in most meetings, also true.

But the former is not caused by the latter; making decisions isn't the only productive reason to have a meeting.

Where did that come from?

That's like the first point he makes:

  I'm totally serious. If you pull it off -- and in many structured jobs, you simply can't -- this simple tip alone can make a huge difference in productivity.

"Structured job" apparently means "job," though. Frankly, anyone who doesn't have a so-called "structured job" or any obligations to anyone else entitled to demand some of their time is probably rich enough already that they don't need "productivity advice."

Fully agree. Also the rest of the article has questionable advice. I doubt the helpfulness of later lists and anti todo lists. Not answering the phone or pretending to be incompetent sounds like an idiotic idea too.

Nobody is promising that every suggestion will work for you. Try everything until you find something that does work.

>I doubt the helpfulness of later lists and anti todo lists.

Before I break down some of the advice, keep in mind that he is talking about productivity. There are some jobs where his advice will not work. But I contend those jobs are designed in a way that necessarily limit your productivity. As an example, SW developers complain about context switching. I assure you, there are jobs where context switching is more or less necessary. I wouldn't criticize Marc's advice because it won't work for that kind of a job. I'd point out that the job is fundamentally one where productivity is limited.

Getting to the details:

Later lists are essentially Someday/Maybe in GTD, so it's not a radical concept. Personally, I've treated it as a dumping ground of things just to get them out of my head. If I'm not going to do it any time soon, I want it somewhere that is not my head. Now I've never found the contents of the list useful. It's usually so huge that it's not worth my time to go back to it.

As for Anti-Todo list, it's a psychological hack, so I'm not sure how you can say it is useful or not. It's strictly not a productivity technique. If it eases your mind, it works. Otherwise not.

I'm not anti-phone as he is, but if I substitute phone calls with texting and IM's, I fully agree. They are usually productivity sinks. I've found phones to be good for things where one cannot reasonably wait. Obviously, this is not going to work for projects that require continual, quick decisions. I think he is merely self selecting: He does only projects where phone calls are not as important.

As for strategic incompetence, he makes the criterion clear:

>Of course, this assumes that there are other things that are more important at which you are competent.

Look around your workplace. In mine, this is what more senior people do all the time. They have more important work to do, and they'll first try to convince managers the annoying work they're being asked to do is not a good use of their time (takes time away from more important work). 70+% of the time, this is enough. When it isn't, it's not unusual to see them do a poor job, at which time managers assign the work to a more junior person.

It does work, as long as their is a junior person who can do the work.

Limiting email time is effective. Whenever I've interviewed, I've asked whether I can do the job if I check email only three times a day. In reality, I check it a lot more often. But I've been burned by having a job where too much work was done over email with an expectation to respond quickly (e.g. within an hour). Having to drop all your work several times a day to answer lots of questions is not good for productivity.

difficult to believe the article isn't satire

If there's anything I'd take from this article, it's techniques to avoid meeting cultures; there's far too many people that want to book an hour long block for a meeting about a thing that can be decided on in five. I think meeting culture is a form of decision anxiety - have we considered all the facts? What if I'm wrong? Is everyone aware that this is happening?

It was really quite bad at my previous assignment. I'm in a much smaller setting now and I'm really trying to avoid it from becoming a thing. If someone asks you for a meeting, always consider if you can discuss it right there and then.

For a lot of people, discussing it right there and then is already an issue because they're spending what little time they have in between meetings to coordinate other meetings. That is, they don't have five minutes to talk about a five minute thing because they have a meeting in five minutes.

See pg's article on maker vs manager schedule.

I dont think an anti to-do list makes me more productive. But I sure like to keep a log of things done in a text file so I can find what I did later. There is of course a limit to what I keep, but even one-liners etc can be stored in it. Especially when used seldomly, I dont remember all the bash tools invocations. And no, I wont "tear it up and throw it away".

I also keep a list of things I've done. Typically I just add those things to my to-do list and check them off.

There are other good ideas in this post and for me they're timely. I'm crunching on a business where I teach programming through art work. I'm definitely going to borrow some of these ideas for that. If that sounds interesting to you, checkout https://splashofcode.com

> - Anyone who needs to reach you so urgently that it can't wait until later in the day or tomorrow morning can call you [...] - Don't answer the phone


>> work on whatever is most important or most interesting,

how often are these two the same thing? Which are you supposed to do when you've got all this open-ended, distraction free time?

And the whole "no schedule" thing comes off as cherry-picking data and situations. Even when Arnold was making blockbuster movies do you think they just filmed whenever he showed up, keeping an entire crew on standby?

Did you notice how all of his examples are individual activities? that's great, but it's tough to accomplish meaningful, revolutionary work without collaboration. Schedules are super-useful (and I'd argue required) for short/mid-term planning and prioritization across teams where everyone is important.

The approach here is for when there is huge asymmetry between parties - like an emergency room and patients. You show up with everyone else, then they triage (hopefully by importance, not interest) and process. Guess what? even the specialist still have schedules so they can work within a broader system.

The approach here sounds like the "schedule" of a lot of affluent retired people.

We tend to be interested in important things we're competent at. That's how we got competent at them in the first place. Shepherding interest - trying to figure out what's interesting about something important that you haven't tackled yet - can be useful to get competent at new things, of course.

In the emergency room, the pathologist will be interested in the sick kid instead of the guy with the broken leg, even if the latter is "more important". Unless the staff are getting overwhelmed by a mass-casualties incident, that's probably actually the right approach. (I'm no doctor though.)

I like email and other asynchronous/recorded communication for collaboration where possible, in lieu of synchronous meetings interrupting flow. But as you point out, there's a lot of cases where this doesn't work. And even a bunch of lone wolves working on solo projects can benefit from synchronizing lunch with their coworkers for some socialization and facetime. I schedule that. It's flexible and not super rigid, but it's still a schedule.

If you're interested in productivity tips from fellow Hacker News readers:


Some of my favorites that I compiled over time.

I mean there are so many tips for being productive, book X says maintain a schedule pre-planned for 2 weeks, book Y says do not maintain a schedule at all. Book X says do a bit of everything daily, book Y says devote a day for a single task. Hmph..

The only thing that works is somehow doing getting work done, rest is irrelevant. And that's why I don't see a point on self-help book in general.

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