Another interview this week. I’ve previously interviewed Scott H Young and David Pierce. This week I’ve had a couple of posts about multitasking and hard focus, so I think it’s cool to share an interview with Cal Newport I had lately. Cal Newport is the author of How to become a straight-A studentand How to win at collegeand the author of the popular college blog Study Hacks. Pretty awesome. Cal wrote a lot about hard focus and you will see that in the interview!

[Me]: Hi Cal, also you thanks for participating, can you give the readers a short intro about yourself?

[Cal]: I’m a postdoc at MIT in the computer science lab. Before that, I was a PhD student there. And before that, I was an undergrad at Dartmouth, where, surprisingly enough, I majored in computer science. I blog at Study Hacks, which focuses on how to build lives that are both successful and enjoyable to live. Its primary audience is students — though I sometimes wander into more general topics.

[Me]: You’ve started blogging when you were in college. With this two time-sucking activities you must have a cool way to manage to do both of these activities. How did you do it?

[Cal]: I’m a big believer in autopilot schedules for all regularly-occurring work as a student. The idea is simple: you put aside set times to work on specific tasks. I’ve always had a specific time in my schedule for blogging.

[Me]: Well, yeah, that is one of the challenges I face with blogging, when are you gonna do it? I’m commuting twice per week with train, which gives me 5 hours on the road, with my laptop on my lap. Pretty much hours to work on blog posts, I’m looking forward to the day where we get internet in the trains!

Anyway, do you have any ninja tricks to succeed in college life?

[Cal]:

  • Do less things (Think: one major, one extracurricular, etc..)
  • Do these things much better than your peers. (Take your small number of obligations seriously)
  • Have some sense of what you want out of life and then figure out how you can use college to get what you want.

This combination is superior to the “do as many hard things as possible” strategy. In more detail, the lifestyle is much less stressful and it paradoxically makes you more attractive to the world outside of college.

[Me]: I feel like that pressure is on us indeed. Do as many things as you can, join every club you can, get in every organization you can. Though job. Do you read other college blogs which you could recommend?

[Cal]: Yes, I read: Ben Casnocha, Scott Young, Ramit Sethi and Chris Guillebeau

[Me]: Any New Year’s resolutions you wish to share with the readers?

[Cal]: Embrace simplicity. But couple it with quality.

[Me]: Thanks again for having this interview Cal

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