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Quick Notes On Improving Productivity

01 Oct 2019 . 3 mins : learning . Comments
#automation #general #psychology #guide #summary #lessons #work #psychology

I recently read Sam Altman’s guide to productivity. It is approximately a 10 minutes read so I’m putting summary of it below as a quick notes essay. These methods also put to test his claims of being more productive than average; where definitely average is debatable.

Samuel H. “Sam” Altman is an American entrepreneur, investor, programmer, and blogger. He is the chairman of Y Combinator and co-chairman of OpenAI.

Sam Altman

His tips as a bulleted summary are:

  1. We should focus on compound growth: 1% better everyday compounded for 10 years is absurdly huge.
  2. Picking what you work on is crucial, and we only get better at choices with time.
  3. Leave enough time in our schedule to decide what we work on.
  4. Delegate, avoid or do anything to not do things we don’t want to.
  5. Make everyone in team efficient by asking them to do what they love.
  6. Short-terms burnouts are acceptable but not repeated ones.
  7. Will I be ready to do it for free? If yes, I love it. But shouldn’t go and start doing it for free! :wink:
  8. We can learn anything we want to; it’s NOT A MIRACLE.
  9. Be around people who push us and are ambitious; avoid the opposite kind.
  10. We need to be both smart and hard-working to achieve big goals.
  11. Work on three pillars: make sure to get important shit done, don’t waste time on stupid shit, make a lot of lists for what you want to do for the day, week, year [but don’t be insane!]
  12. Prioritize in a way that generates** momentum; to begin **is half work done.
  13. Be ruthless about saying no to non-critical stuff and get away with them quickly.
  14. Avoiding meetings and conferences can help in saving a lot of time; most meeting should be either 10-20 minutes or 2 hours.
  15. Keeping an open network is highly helpful, thought most of it will be waste but rest make up.
  16. Don’t schedule anything in the most productive hours of our day.
  17. Choose to spend $100 and improve, than to save $20; see point 1.
  18. Chasing productivity for it’s own sake is like eating your own tail.
  19. Find physical habits to bring out the best mood in ourselves: the best time to get up, best sleeping habits, invest in stuff to keep you relaxed easily.
  20. Have a no-interruption work environment.
  21. Learn to automate your mundane tasks.
  22. Going through a week or so of unwillingness to work is fine; optimal year is the goal, not day.
  23. Avoid people and situations which put us in bad mood.
  24. Overcommiting a bit** at times is helpful** in pushing ourselves.

The most important of all, in my opinion, is

Never neglect your family and friends for the sake of productivity.

Neglecting them would cause you to be unhappy and there by reducing your productivity in the long run; remember optimal year is the goal, not day!

The original article can be found here. The above is my take from the article and a lot of it has been customized to fit in my personal life. I, personally believe, that it is very important to try to optimise our lives and the work environment, and my motivation for the same is to have more time to spend with friends and family with improving output.

It doesn’t matter how fast we move if it’s in a worthless direction.


I'm intrigued by human psychology and code backend for videogames. I live with a philosophy to be simple, true, and kind always. I enjoy taking days slowly and writing when I learn something new - ah! that reminds me, I enjoy learning from new experiences a lot.