Sunday, February 20, 2011

More meta-research, or, Dan's plan for optimal productivity and happiness, take one.

On my research days, I have pretty much complete freedom with my time. (I think it's not quite so complete for real students.) As everyone knows, this is a blessing and a curse.

So I'm trying the following plan:
90 minutes on, 30 minutes off. Call them "cycles" or "work chunks" or whatever. During each cycle, I am only working. And no email. I'm using Workflowy to track my to-do list, and if I need to know what to do, I check my to-do list. During each cycle, there's one 5-minute break if needed; I will usually need it.
Start whenever I wake up and am ready for work.
90 minutes: first cycle, at home
30 minutes: bike to the lab at UW
90 minutes: another cycle; I'll handle email at the last 30 minutes of this cycle.
30 minutes: lunch
90 minutes: another cycle
30 minutes: nap if needed, or slack
90 minutes: last cycle, checking email once more before I go home.

Important points:
- hard focus. No email!
- any work outside of this time is purely "if I feel like it." I want to avoid feeling like I should work all the time. Although if I am inspired to work all the time and I'm having fun, I won't stop.
- I wonder if this is enough. I've heard you shouldn't expect grad school to fit into 9-5. However, 6 hours of hard focus is pretty good; if I can fit those 6 hours in 8 hours instead of 12, maybe I just get more free time. I am emboldened by this post.

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