Review for “How to Make 2008 Significantly More Exciting Than 2007”

It’s a review article for How to Make 2008 Significantly More Exciting Than 2007.

Basic concept

To make college life more with values and excitement, it’s worth having a grand project, i.e., a desired project held by yourself to have the amazing feeling of “building something unique by yourself.” It’s beneficial to student life overall by inserting a project to raise the achievement and hence boost productivity at large.

Practical way to completing the grand project

You may ask people in the field of your project to set the next step. Once you identify the step which is probably not accomplishable in one working period or even a single day, it’s crucial to break down the step and fix the schedule to form a habit. If you finish a step, repeat from asking people again until you finish the grand project. Note that parallel steps are allowed.

My Comments

The hardest part of this idea is to write down the grand project at first place. People may have things they want to do deep in their head, but few can present the idea concisely and with logic enough to ask for help. It’s a pity that Taiwan’s education didn’t focus on how to present in the way above.

My Actions

  1. Collect the essays I have written to write down the details of the grand project. (The priority is low, though.)
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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.

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.

Raise Skills, not Follow Passion

It’s a review article for Cal Newport’s speech “Follow your passion” is bad advice. He urged that we, the youngsters, should raise skills instead of following passion and gave us three techniques to apply to systematically raise our skills.

Don’t tell people to follow their passion

Steve Job said to follow your passion, but Cal Newport thought telling the young to follow their passion “reduce the probability they end up passionate[.]” He argued that Steve Job himself didn’t follow his passion according to Job’s biography. He raised an writer for example to illustrate how to end up loving our working life.

Skill is King

The first point he gave is “skill.” It’s the rare and valuable skills that make people end up with happy working life. Moreover, the correlation between achieving a lot and high level of passion can’t simply be

but it’s because the passion grows as your skill grows—there is the “snowball” effect. The start point crucial for pre-passion which boosts a lot more passion later. To achieve the rare and valuable skill, he provides three technique to apply.

Three technique to apply

The first technique is to schedule the time block at the beginning of the day for yourself to follow without thinking about it. What’s more, scheduling is necessary for deep work.

The second technique is to build artifacts for you to examine the output of your valuable time of working.

The third technique is to increase your ability to focus at the rate 10 minutes per 10 successful terms, e.g., start from 30 minutes, succeed, and increase to 40 minutes, etc.

Summary

  1. Systematically grow your skill and you’ll find your passion grows as your skill grows.
  2. Use the three technique to systematically grow your skill:
    1. Schedule the time block;
    2. Build artifacts (作品) as your outcome to examine your quality of working;
    3. Increase the ability to focus 10 mins per 10 successful terms.

My personal action triggered by this article

Ensure there is an artifact for every project as the output to examine.

My personal comments

Besides building artifacts, it’s helpful to present them to a community where others can provide ideas and senses of caring, achieving, and gathering. As for the increase of focusing, I consider it unnecessary given the pomodoro technique and the ability to break down projects into small actions which are doable in 25 minutes.