Tag Archives: cal-newport

Fixed-Schedule Productivity: Fix the Schedule, Don’t Compromise

In a guest post for I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Cal Newport of Study Hacks discusses fixed-schedule productivity: a productivity system whereby you set a schedule of work (and play) between certain hours and stick to it ruthlessly.

Tim Ferriss aficionados will note that this system relies on a premise that Ferriss heavily depends on:

Much of the work we do is of questionable importance and conducted at low efficiency. […] If we instead identify only the most important tasks […] and tackle them under severe constraints, we’d be surprised by how little time we actually require.

The précis of the fixed-schedule productivity system, as used by author Jim Collins:

Fix your ideal schedule, then work backwards to make everything fit […] around your needs. Be flexible. Be efficient. If you can’t make it fit: change your work. But in the end, don’t compromise.

Some of you may recognise this: Cal suggested something very similar last year, but on a  grander scale.

Fix the lifestyle you want. Then work backwards from there.

Determination, Long-Terms Goals, Success

Determination and long-term goal-setting may be more contributory to success than intelligence, suggests research being conducted by Angela Duckworth and her contemporaries.

These two traits (perseverance and keeping long-term goals in mind) are affectionately called ‘grit’ by researchers in the field and—according to a 2007 paper on the subject (pdf)—play an important role in many academic achievements.

Researchers are quick to point out that grit isn’t simply about the willingness to work hard. Instead, it’s about setting a specific long-term goal and doing whatever it takes until the goal has been reached. It’s always much easier to give up, but people with grit can keep going.

[…] These new scientific studies rely on new techniques for reliably measuring grit in individuals. As a result, they’re able to compare the relative importance of grit, intelligence, and innate talent when it comes to determining lifetime achievement. Although this field of study is only a few years old, it’s already made important progress toward identifying the mental traits that allow some people to accomplish their goals, while others struggle and quit. Grit, it turns out, is an essential (and often overlooked) component of success.

“I’d bet that there isn’t a single highly successful person who hasn’t depended on grit,” says Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who helped pioneer the study of grit. “Nobody is talented enough to not have to work hard, and that’s what grit allows you to do.”

Duckworth created a survey to measure this “narrowly defined trait” (which you can take online), and it was actually found to be a better indicator of success than an IQ score in the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

For more on this topic In Character‘s short interview with Angela Duckworth is worth a read, as is Cal Newport’s excellent take on ‘grit’:

Maintain a small number of things that you return to, and do hard work on, again and again, over a long period of time. Choose things that actually interest you, but don’t obsesses over choosing the perfect things — as perfect goals […] probably don’t exist.

Don’t Follow Your Passion – Fix Your Lifestyle

Fix the lifestyle you want. Then work backwards from there.

A novel take on the typical inspirational graduation speech. It’s not about following your passion or not taking yourself too seriously. They’re important, but this is different.

The idea is to not think of your ideal job, but to think of your ideal lifestyle. To think of it in detail down to minute details of how you want to live your life. Only from there can you begin to construct your career goals – aiming not for that ideal job but aiming for that ideal lifestyle.

After all, isn’t that what you’re really after?