Scott H Young

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How Hard Should You Work?

Last week, I shared the idea of a “productive frontier.” When you’re below the frontier, you can usually get more done simply by optimizing your systems. Cut out the waste and be more productive. When you’re at the frontier, getting more done comes at the expense of other things—like your time off. One wrinkle I didn’t address in that essay was...

The Productivity Frontier: Can You Get More Done Without Making Sacrifices?

Pareto efficiency is a concept everyone should understand. Named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto1, the idea refers to situations where you can (or can’t) improve something without trade-offs. Consider designing a car where you care about speed and safety. You have one design that’s fast but dangerous, another that is slow and safe, and a third...

Smarter People Take More Risks

Recently I read Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman’s The Mathematics of Poker. Using sophisticated game theory, the duo analyze poker setups to figure out the optimal betting strategy. One thing that jumped out immediately was simply how aggressive the correct betting strategy can be. There are common setups where it makes sense to go all-in, regardless...

Life of Focus is Now Open

Life of Focus is now open for registration for a new session. Registration will be open until Friday, February 12th (midnight Pacific time): www.life-of-focus-course.com The course takes place over three months, each designed to enhance one area of focus in your life. During the first month, we get focused in work. Deep work is hard, but it’s the...

How to Stay Focused

This week, in anticipation of the second session of Life of Focus, I’ve been sharing lessons about centering your life back onto what matters. For those who missed the previous lessons, check them out here. Today, for the final lesson, I want to talk not about making changes, but about making them last. Productivity is especially prone to bursts of...

Get the Most From Your Limited Free Time

The value of focused work is obvious. Yes, deep work is often neglected. But, at least most of us agree on the importance. Yet, I think our personal lives, even more than our working lives, are in need of a focused tune-up. Employers and clients put pressure on us to be productive at our jobs. Our personal time, in contrast, is much more easily wasted....

On Doing Your Life’s Work

Peter Drucker, the renowned management thinker who first coined the term ‘knowledge worker’ perfectly summarized the problem of focus in work: Most discussions of the executive’s task start with the advice to plan one’s work. This sounds eminently plausible. The only thing wrong with it is that it rarely works. The plans always remain on paper, always...

It’s Time to Reclaim Your Mind

Next week, Cal Newport and I will hold a new session of Life of Focus. The course is a three-month training program to help you achieve greater productivity and peace of mind. We held our first session last fall. It was a resounding success. Students reported making major strides in their work, wresting back control over time and reducing their stress....

Ten Ideas That Have Shaped My Life

Ideas are powerful. Arriving at the right time, they can alter the entire direction of your life. But ideas also hide in the background, acting as assumptions. Quietly influencing your decisions, whether they’re true or false. Looking back, I can think of a number of ideas that shaped my life. Some are only obvious in retrospect. Others I took great...

What’s the Best Way to Learn Biology?

Recently, I’ve had an interest in learning more biology. Some of that curiosity is pandemic-inspired. Biology is playing an outsized role in all of our lives these days. Yet much of the interest predates our current crisis. As a teenager, I really enjoyed books like The Selfish Gene and The Red Queen. Evolutionary biology revealing a hidden pattern...

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