My Takeaways from the Class (Summarised)

My Takeaways from the Class (Summarised) - student project

Actionable Items for Productivity Hacking



The Pilot:

The role of the pilot is to set the course. Generally works by listing down the things you want to get accomplished during the day early in the morning. This role can be split into 3; short term, medium term and the long term.

Derived from David Allen's book, "Getting Things Done", we get the Horizons of Focus.


  1. The ground level is Calendars and Actions and constitutes the groundwork of the tasks.
  2. Horizon level 1 is Projects, things that require more than 1 step to get done. Can have multiple active projects.
  3. Horizon level 2 is Areas of Focus, things that generally do not have a goal or deadline like projects by are intended to be part of our lives.
  4. Horizon level 3 is Goals and General Objectives, are things that drive the creation of projects. Can constitute multiple projects to accomplish same goal.
  5. Horizon level 4 is the 3-5 Year Vision, more ideas that are long term.
  6. Horizon level 4 is the Principles and Purpose, speaks to character and personality. It is very abstract.


Actionable items as Pilot:

Scheduling and Calendars - Understand what you actually spend your time on. Immediately schedule in events on your calendar. Gaps in the calendar is where you figure stuff out. But realize that the schedule is not restrictive and is flexible.

The Power of To-Do lists - Need some kind of application to manage your project or the tasks for your projects. This dictates what you are going to do on a particular day. Think of the To-Do list as a Might-Do list.

Refresh your list regularly probably in the morning. One added concept is making a Highlight, one thing that you absolutely have to get done. Try following the "Eat the frog" technique, where you get your most unpleasant or boring task done first thing in the morning.

Do not over-commit and follow the 1-3-5 rule; 1 big task, 3 medium tasks and 5 small tasks.

Projects and Areas of Focus - Project is anything that has more than one task associated with it. Do not think of doing the project as it could become overwhelming to the point where you do not get it accomplished. A better way to think of it is to work on tasks and sub-tasks within the project as they are more actionable.

The more specific you make your task the better chance you have of getting it done. Keep multiple projects on the slow burn with such tasks rather than trying to do heavy lifting for the whole project. Every single project needs to have an appropriate next step to it. Areas of Focus can then be considered as a collection of a few projects that contribute towards the goal.

Goals - Very debatable on the use or effectiveness of goals, as they focus on destination rather than the journey. Can be rethought as three different types of goals; destination goals, progress goals and system goal. Try to recognize which types of goals are applicable to which situation.

Make sure to keep goals within your control and redefine them to exclude parameters that are out of your control. James Clear's point is, "Having a goal is fine provided you use the goal to set your direction. Once that is done then you forget about the goal".

Vision and Purpose - It is very abstract. Need to contextualize how your tasks and projects fit into your larger vision for your life. Try the Oddessy Plan exercise or the Death Bed exercise.



The Plane:

The role of the plane is to simply execute on the orders of the pilot. The plane has to take-off, stay the course and land safely.


Actionable items as Plane:

Hacking Motivation - This is the biggest issue for starting-off. Instead of thinking that motivation leads to action and then success, we need to realize that action leads to a small amount of success that in turn motivates us for further action. Many concepts are already established in the principles of productivity.

Overcoming Inertia - Derived from Newton's first law. It means to just get started. Again covered in the principles of productivity.

Achieving Flow - It deals with staying the course. We cannot always get into the Flow state. It happens on accident. What we need to do is make ourselves more accident-prone so that we have higher chances of hitting this zone.
To do this we need to manage our external and internal distractions and focus on working on one thing at a time.

We can also set up a mental cue by environment design to help us get into the flow state. We must ensure to choose challenging but not impossible tasks. Try to work in your own biological peak time. You could listen to the right kind of music. Finally more practically you could consume items that are impactful towards us reaching flow state, like caffeine.

Distraction Management - Stop thinking that it is cool to get distracted all the time. Stop wearing it as a badge of honor. If you have a strong why to do a task then you will overcome the distraction. Digital distraction is the main culprit. Increase the friction to getting distracted.

Actionable items to reduce digital distraction is to rearrange the applications on your device to only those that are productive. Bury distracting applications in folders. Try setting your screen to greyscale. If you do not need it then avoid connecting your device to the internet.

Pomodoro Technique - Work away at your task while being hyper-focused for 25-min at a time with a 5 min break in between. Every few sets of such intervals take a longer break.

Course Correcting - Just because you have found yourself to deviate from the course, do not give in to the notion that you have wasted the time and might as well stop what you are doing. You can always course correct from your distraction and get back to working on your task. Going slightly off-course is not a lost cause. A moment of weakness is ok as long as you correct yourself and get back on track.

Leverage Artificial Deadlines - This is the final aspect of being a plane; landing safely. Give yourself artificial deadlines for any task or project and have takeaways when you get it done within them, like a feeling of satisfaction or such.

The Reitoff Principle - If you write a day off as your free day where you would not have any predetermined tasks to do then it gives you a mental relief and you do not feel guilty for doing something not productive.


The Engineer:

The role of the engineer is to make the plane faster, fuel efficient and organized. It means getting our stuff done quicker, being able to keep the system running without requiring too much of out mental faculties and effort and finally tweaking the system to keep it organized and not allow it to slip into entropy.


Actionable items as Engineer:

The GTD Methodology - This is a 5 step process. It gives you a system for organizing all the commitments and projects in our lives to enable us to get them done. We need to maintain horizontal and vertical coherence, which basically means that we have to organize not only across multiple projects and areas but also down each project or task.


  1. Capture - Create a physical capture of your ideas so that you do not have to worry about remembering them.
  2. Clarify - Have a clearly defined next step instead of being very vague.
  3. Organize - Put stuff where it needs to go into the right categories. Involves a lot of Metadata.
  4. Reflect - Essentially entails reviewing your system.
  5. Engage - Denotes actually doing the thing.

Digital Productivity - It essentially involves improving your skills so that the tools you use to get your tasks done are much improved and help you improve your productivity. There is a article to help with this linked here,


Health and Well-being - It comes under efficiency. Sleep routine can be tweaked with, Nutrition is very personal and so you should tweak it based on your lifestyle and finally think about your best way to exercise.

Daily Review; The Log Book - It is very important to reflect back on your day to judge if you were able to get your tasks done especially your highlight.

Weekly Review; The Operating System - It is a review and tightening of your system on the whole over the course of the week. It is very personal and you have to build it based on your experiences. There are however many techniques that could be used that are available online.

Monthly Review; The Systems Check - You zoom further out than your weekly reviews and look at your tasks, projects and areas of interests and compare them with your goals and objectives to see if you are heading in the right direction.

Annual Review; The Aircraft Inspection - It is very abstract. Take stock of the year.


The Fun Factor:


"It is infinitely easier to be productive if you are having fun doing the things that you are doing"