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How Josh Kaufman Does Research 

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses how Josh Kaufman, the author of "The Personal MBA", conducts research and finds answers to complex questions. It covers his process for reading and processing research, using digital and physical tools, managing his tasks, and how he applied his research skills to diagnose a mystery illness he was struggling with.

🙋 Q&A

[01] How Josh Kaufman Does Research

1. What are the key aspects of Josh Kaufman's research process?

  • He reads constantly, with rules for how he organizes and digests different kinds of books (fiction vs non-fiction)
  • He takes handwritten notes in physical notebooks to organize his thoughts when reading physical books
  • He uses electronic note-taking tools like Evernote and Pinboard to save and organize online content
  • He uses writing software like Ulysses to transition from reading and processing to drafting
  • He separates his writing tasks on a dedicated computer to avoid distractions
  • He uses the "autofocus" system to manage his to-do list and stay focused on priority tasks

2. How does Kaufman avoid burnout in his research and writing work?

  • He balances different kinds of work throughout the day, such as switching between research, writing, and programming
  • He limits his focused writing time to 3-4 hours per day, as he finds that writing for longer periods reduces the quality of his work

3. How did Kaufman use his research skills to diagnose a mystery illness?

  • For over a decade, Kaufman struggled with a mystery illness that left him exhausted and stumped his doctors
  • He used research databases like PubMed and DeepDyve to search for relevant medical literature and form hypotheses
  • He kept a detailed log of his research and experimented on himself to gather data
  • After years of research, he was able to identify the issue as a rare inflammatory disorder and start effective treatment

4. How did Kaufman's personal experiences shape his understanding of productivity?

  • Dealing with his mystery illness and the birth of his daughter made him realize that productivity is not just about checking off a to-do list, but about aligning your time and energy with your values and priorities
  • This shift in mindset led him to be more selective about how he spends his time and energy, rather than trying to power through a massive to-do list

[02] Book Recommendations

1. What are the two books Kaufman recommends for short, thought-provoking reads?

  • The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracián y Morales, a 17th-century Spanish Jesuit priest
  • The Waste Books by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, an 18th-century German physicist
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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