Review for “Fixed-Schedule Productivity”

Statement

This is a review for Fixed-schedule Productivity: How I Accomplish a Large Amount of Work in a Small Number of Work Hours by Cal Newport. In this article, he shared how he reached steady and high productivity by fixing his time.

Big Principle: fix the proportion first

To maintain the quality of life and working in the same time, he set the proportion of his time working/relaxing at first:

In the abstract, these all seem like hard things to do. But when you have the focus of a specific goal — “I do not want to work past 5 on week days!” — you’d be surprised by how much easier it becomes deploy these strategies in your daily life.

Fix the inertia of working

Then he tried to fix the specific time doing the work to form the inertia of working. As for projects management, he used GTD to maintain his high productivity across different projects. Of course, as one who knows the importance of focusing, he “refuse[d]” and kept himself “not available” when focusing on his work. In that way, he kept his inertia by not being disturbed.

Transfer anything possible into a fixed action

Besides, he utilized the 80/20 rule, i.e., found any recurring action and “habitatize[d]” it:

I batch and habitatize. Any regularly occurring work gets turned into a habit — something I do at a fixed time on a fixed date. … Habit-based schedules for the regular work makes it easier to tackle the non-regular projects. It also prevents schedule-busting pile-ups.

Summary

In his explanation of this method, he gave a thorough understanding of work: the point of working isn’t to finish all the work, but to face the endlessness of work and try to accomplish more by the power of fixing.

My personal comment

In the first paragraph, the principle is to fix the proportion first. However, this proportion setting can’t be done without a complete understanding of what to do, e.g., a student who want to have a high-score semester with quality must set up every loading he/she is going to study, topic by topic, or better, section by section. After calculating average loading in a week, one can then ensure his/her minimum loading per week and hence have better confidence with his/her own studying process.

My personal actions

  1. Try the fix-schedule productivity
    1. Gather all the content to study this semester.
    2. Set a proportion of working/relaxing.
    3. Observe the time of studying and fix the it.
  2. Habitize recurring actions once they are found by writing diary.
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