Cal Newport's Top 3 Advice For Work

Italienische Gartenlandschaft, Gustav Klimt, 1913

Italienische Gartenlandschaft, Gustav Klimt, 1913

In a recent Huberman Lab podcast episode, How to Enhance Focus and Improve Productivity,

Dr. Cal Newport, author of Deep Work talks about the top three things that he wants to see everyone do each day.

These are his three wishes.

  1. Pull-based system

    work on 2-3 things at a time and only take on new tasks once they're completed

    • keep track of your TODOs in a list
    • actively work on the top part of this list (2-3 things), everything else is the bottom part
    • any new work or ideas goes to the bottom
    • only when you finish something, pull something new from the list below.
  2. Multiscale planning

    big picture planning that keeps you focused on what matters so you're not wandering through your day, dispersing energy on small, unimportant tasks.

    • plan on 3 scales: daily, weekly, seasonally
    • seasonal -> weekly
      • the seasonal plans help you decide the big objectives you want to hit; serving as reminders to yourself about what matters.
      • it helps you plan your week; adjusting the blocks in your calendar to make progress on your goals
    • weekly -> daily
      • the weekly plans help you decide what to work on each day
      • use time blocking to plan your days down to the hour so you're not figuring out what to do next.
  3. Shutdown Ritual

    have a ritual that clearly separate the end of work and after work. A way to disengage from work and give your mind a break to focus on family and other work.

    • review and write: look at your inbox, make sure there's nothing urgent that still needs to be dealt with, write down everything in your head that's important, ideas and potential solutions you're thinking about
    • plan the next day: move over your unfinished tasks, decide the next action steps, schedule with time blocks.
    • end the routine: Cal uses a phrase "schedule, shutdown, complete" that indicates the routine is done.