August 16, 2022




Deep Work, Hofstadter's Law, Elon's Law, & More

At a glance

Welcome to the 300(!) new friends of the Mental Models, Concepts, and Frameworks newsletter who have joined us since last week!

This Week: 11 of the most powerful frameworks and principles for productivity

Deep Work

Deep work is single-tasking, limiting your context switching and distractions in your immediate working environment.

Shallow work is logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted.

h/t Cal Newport

Hofstadter's Law

Projects always take longer than expected, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.

You're generally bad at estimating when things will get done.

The deeper point: We often have a choice of when to call a project “done.”

Use this choice more often.

Elon's Law

If you have a project, combat Hofstader's Law by setting a ridiculously ambitious deadline.

Even if you fail to meet it, you're still ahead.

Isn’t it better to miss an aggressive deadline than a conservative one?

It's no wonder Musk has achieved so much.

Murphy's Law

”Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

This is another reason to use Elon’s Law.

When planning long-term projects, consider a margin of safety to ensure you can handle any interruptions to planned progress and still meet your deadline easily.

Parkinson's Law

Work expands to fill the time allotted to it.

If you allocate 4 weeks, it will take 4 weeks. If you allocate 10 days, it will take 10 days.

Remember: The sooner you finish, the sooner you can move on.

Advice: Use artificial deadlines.

Pomodoro Technique

Use a timer to break down work into intervals of ~25-45mins separated by short breaks—the intervals are called Pomodoro’s.

This model taps into Parkinson’s law and causes you to try and get more done within each short time period, with a reward at the end.

Gate's Law

We overestimate what we can do in one year and underestimate what we can do in ten years.

Humans think in linear terms, so we struggle to contemplate the compounding returns on actions over a decade.

Don’t be dispirited if 1-year isn’t enough to hit your goals.

Maker's vs Manager's Schedule

There are two types of schedules.

Manager: The work you do changes every hour.

Maker: The work you do requires long, uninterrupted units of time—e.g., programmers.

Figure out the schedule your role requires to do your best work and stick to it.

Effectiveness vs. Efficiency

Effectiveness: Doing the right things—getting the result you intend.

Efficiency: Doing things right—working with minimal waste of time and effort.

To achieve more, you must be both effective & efficient, but effectiveness should come first.

Discipline Equals Freedom

”Discipline and Freedom seem like they sit on opposite ends of the spectrum, but they are actually very connected.

Freedom is what everyone wants.

But the only way to get to a place of freedom is through discipline.”

h/t @jockowillink

Systems vs. Goals

Systems vs. Goals

To achieve more, focus on the process first—the system—that will get you to the goal.

Doing something every day is a system—like writing for 1 hour.

Writing a book is a goal.

"Goals determine your direction. Systems determine your progress.”

—James Clear

That's it, I hope you enjoyed reading :)

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