My Experiment with Day Planning (inspired by Cal Newport)

Cal Newport is an MIT postdoc, now a tenured Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University. Besides his grueling academic work like a PhD defense, and 6+ peer-reviewed papers every year, he has written 4 books (the last one, Deep Work being my favorite), and maintains a blog with 10000+ readers, still manages to finish his work every day by 5:30 pm.

This got my attention.

Fixed-scheduled productivity is what he calls his productivity system. I like the idea of day structuring over 30 minutes period. It gives me sense of reality what I can accomplish in a day. I am also note bothered by mosquito tasks that distracts me.

Because by default given the scheduling of tasks, you are suppose not to be distracted by such tiny tasks, that brings in quite an amount of focus and ensures quality. I do miss the fact the digression is a key part to creativity, but I think I have to compromise one thing for the other – a chosen trade off.

Here is my list of what I liked and what I don’t like in the system.


  • Day structuring
  • But brought in very great focus
  • It forced outcome-based thinking
  • Given reality perspective of what could be done in a day
  • Forced to reduce the number of projects, but I also missed variety of projects.


  • Felt great burden on the shoulder to maintain or stick to the schedule of activities.

However one of the major advantages that would ask.
It forces you to decide your to-do list right in the morning to the calendar.
Reduce task switching. In fact Cal suggests not to focus on any task less than 30 minutes. That he says will bring in focus for deep work and in turn

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