How do you get so much done?

30 November 2020
30 Nov 2020

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how I manage to get so much done – side projects, essays and blog posts, music production, so on, so forth.

I think people expect me to have some rigorous and productivity-boosting tactic they can employ to be more prolific, but that’s not really true. I don’t really have great tactical advice to stay productive more of the time. What I have are some ideas on how you can maximize your creative output, despite not being productive most of the time you’re awake.

  1. I try hard to create long stretches of uninterrupted time. So I have 2-3 days set for meetings/calls a week and try to get at least 2 days a week where I have nothing on my calendar unless something’s an emergency. I end up making lots of creative progress on those days.
  2. I try to work atomically. i.e. when I start something, I try to finish it in one session of work. Sometimes this requires breaking down larger projects carefully but for most blogs and small side projects I get things done in one sitting/session (up to around ~8 hours if overnight). I think this is helpful because you don’t have a million things going on simultaneously, which helps focus.
  3. I don’t do a lot outside of coursework and Dorm Room Fund these days. So I end up with more time to myself. I do sacrifice my grades somewhat but I think I probably don’t have to – I just do for my mental sanity / stress control.

Overall, I spend less of my total hours working on things than probably most people who get a lot done, but I try to have bursts of time where I am 10x more productive than most people, and I try to create many such bursts, whether by a stroke of inspiration or carefully considered planning or some combination.

I also think there’s a certain degree of operational efficiency that comes with having been writing / making side projects for years alongside work and school. Being efficient is a survival tactic, and I am very fast these days.

Three kinds of computing

evermore, and other beautiful things