Takeaway seems to be: stay light on your feet; keep everything in the short term, but build habits that will serve you in the long term; make sure you're always doing something that holds your interest.



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Haha, as a student with ADD, this completely describes who I am. I actually have lots of other tips I've gathered over the years - maybe I'll finally compile them somewhere.

http://matt.might.net/articles/productivity-tips-hints-hacks-tricks-for-grad-students-academics/ is also a really good resource

My philosophy: Optimize transaction costs Distilled into empirically-wrought principles, my high-level advice is:

Reduce transaction costs to engaging in productive behavior. Erect transaction costs to engaging in counter-productive behavior. Minimize opportunity cost. Do what you're best at doing, and partner with specialists when you need to do something else. [This is the hardest principle for engineers to accept. We feel that if we can do something, we should.] In short, mold your life so that the path of least resistance is the path of maximum productivity.

People are shocked when I tell them I'm lazy. I don't try to change the fact that I'm lazy; I exploit it. I try to make sure that the laziest thing I can do at any moment is what I should be doing.

As an anecdote, I'll offer my experience with doing pull-ups. I wanted to start doing pull-ups, so I attached a portable pull-up bar to the door outside our bedroom. Every time I passed by, the transaction cost of a pull-up was near zero, so I did some pull-ups. Moreover, I didn't have to remember to do pull-ups, because I saw the pull-up bar all the time. One day, for whatever reason, the bar was taken down and placed on the floor. It's been on the floor for months, and I haven't done a pull-up since. It would take about ten seconds to re-install the bar, but I'm often in a rush, and that ten seconds has become a transaction cost.

In short, mold your life so that the path of least resistance is the path of maximum productivity.

Yup, that's how reality does it as well with the principle of least action.



Yes, make the hour count, but speaking as someone with a ton of experience with juggling I beg to disagree with your example. It is best to learn things in the right order. And yes, sometimes this does include making things more difficult intentionally. (I realize this was probably just a metaphor, but I think the point still stands.)



This is true, and a good point. Upvoted.

I suppose I should be clearer with my quibbles. My reservations were for the novice learning a complex skill.

Chronically lazy and (mentally) hyperactive autodidact? Hey, that's me!

A good post. Most of it I found fairly obvious (well, obvious now that I've looked back at what has always worked for me and what has always not worked), but it's useful to have all of these points explicitly stated.