Tagged: planning


Understand “the importance of being attentive to hazards that carry a low risk each time but are encountered frequently.”

Avoid the common tendency to “exaggerate the risks of events that are beyond our control” and happen infrequently and to groups (attacks, crashes, etc); focus instead on “risks of events that we can control…and of events that kill just one person in a mundane way.”

For example, if a daily activity has a 1/1000 risk of fatality, focus on reducing that risk substantially – or you may not make it through the next few years.

In the words of the polymath Jared Diamond, adopt an attitude of “constructive paranoia”.


Further reading:

Jared Diamond. 2013-01-28. That Daily Shower Can Be a Killer. NYT


Work on one thing at a time. Eliminate distractions. Avoid interruptions.

Multi-tasking is a myth. You cannot do it.  When you attempt to “multi-task”, you are in fact switching rapidly between tasks. Switch-tasking requires interrupting what you’re currently working on to work on something else [Nass]. Interrupted, your brain takes twenty minutes to reboot [Gallagher, p. 154]. This makes you not only inefficient but confused. Worse, heavy multi-taskers actually get worse at juggling tasks and suffer from memory loss and diminished concentration [Nass].

(Note: It is okay to “walk and chew gum at the same time”, for these activities require different parts of the brain. You get the idea.)


References and further information:

Winifred Gallagher. 2009. Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life. Penguin

Herman Miller. 2007. The Siren Song of Multitasking

Clifford Nass. Multi-Tasking is Bad for Your Brain. GigaOm

Joshua S. Rubinstein, David E. Meyer, and Jeffrey E. Evans. 2001. Executive Control of Cognitive Processes in Task Switching. JEP

Sue Shellenbarger. 2003-02-27. New Studies Show Pitfalls Of Doing Too Much at Once. WSJ