Busy-ness vs. Work

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Statistician John Cook recently began work as a consultant and has been looking at work habits on his blog. One happy result is that he has encountered evidence that about four hours per day of concentrated effort is a common pattern among successful people in the creative and thinking professions. (His commenters chimed in with even more such evidence.)

As I've blogged about before, and mentioned again in my previous post, the great mathematician and physicist Henri Poincaré put in two hours of work in the morning and two in the evening.

Apparently this is a common pattern. Cal Newport mentions this in his interview with Todd Henry.
Of course, by "work", Cook isn't talking about things like processing email. This distinction reminds me a little of a post I ran into some time back that complained about the lack of such a distinction in David Allen's GTD system. If I recall a remark by one of the commenters correctly, his remedy was to use Allen's system as a way to track all this "non-work" in order to make time for one's (actual) work.

-- CAV


John Cook said...

Thanks. Glad you liked those posts.

I liked the idea that GTD is really about tracking non-work. In some sense it's all just work, but it helps to distinguish supporting activity from the core of your work. It's easy for the former to squeeze out the latter.

Gus Van Horn said...

Hi John,


I have used elements of GTD for years, but never really got around to using the entire system or even the parts of it that I did use for EVERYTHING.

In retrospect, I think this was at least in part because it was getting in the way of "real" work.

My thinking on this has also been influenced a great deal by Paul Graham's commentary from some time ago about "maker's schedules" vs. more managerial ones.