The 6 Causes of Burnout (and How to Avoid It)
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
2w ago
Burnout is miserable. You feel exhausted, but you still need to keep showing up to the job, day after day. Whatever fire you had for your work has now fizzled out—making you wonder whether you should quit and start over. Why does burnout happen, and how can we avoid it? Christina Maslach is one of the world’s leading experts on burnout. In the 1980s, Maslach and her colleagues developed one of the first psychological assessments for burnout. In the subsequent four decades, she has built a career investigating the causes of burnout. Burnout is More than Just Being Tired Maslach’s research finds ..read more
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Does Everyone Learn at the Same Rate? An Intriguing Experiment
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
2w ago
Recently, I wrote a defense of psychologist John Carroll’s claim that what separated stronger and weaker students wasn’t a fundamental difference in learning potential, but a difference in learning rate. Some people learn faster and others more slowly, but provided the right environment, essentially anyone can learn anything. In arguing that, I primarily wanted to dispute the common belief that talent sets hard limits on the skill and knowledge you can eventually develop. Not everyone could become a doctor, physicist or artist, the reasoning goes, because some people will hit a limit on how mu ..read more
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The Science of Learning Physics
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
3w ago
Physics is a notoriously difficult subject. The math is complicated, the principles are subtle and even when students pass the final exam, they still frequently fail simple conceptual questions designed to test whether they really understood anything. Given this difficulty, it makes sense that we should strive for more effective ways to teach and learn physics. Jennifer Docktor and José Mestre provide an elegant summary of the relevant research on evidence-based instructional practices in their book, The Science of Learning Physics. Why is Physics So Hard to Learn? While learning the math unde ..read more
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The 10,000-Hour Rule is a Myth
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
1M ago
Few ideas about learning are as well-known as the 10,000-hour rule, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 bestseller, Outliers, where he argued that it takes roughly that long to master a skill. The basis for Gladwell’s rule was Anders Ericsson’s 1993 paper arguing that large quantities of deliberate practice could explain world-class skill levels. Before that, psychologist John Hayes’s research on elite composers, artists and poets found roughly ten years were necessary to produce master-level works. As with many popularizations of academic research, the public understanding of the rule ..read more
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Life of Focus Is Now Open for a New Session
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
1M ago
Life of Focus, the three-month training program I co-instruct with Cal Newport (author of Deep Work), is now open for a new session. We will be holding registration until Friday, January 19th, 2024 (midnight, Pacific time).  This course aims to help you achieve greater levels of depth in your work and life. How would it feel to have more time and energy for the things that really matter to you? We split the course into three, one-month challenges. Each challenge is a guided effort to help you establish and test new routines, alongside specific lessons to deal with iss ..read more
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Why Build a Life of Focus?
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
1M ago
This is the last warm-up lesson before Cal Newport and I reopen our popular course, Life of Focus. During the three months of the course, we’ll guide you through structured exercises designed to increase the quality of your time spent at work—and at home.  The quality of your life is determined by what you choose to pay attention to. Attention determines your work. It determines whether you make strides on meaningful, challenging projects, or waste your hours on frivolous tasks. It determines whether you get everything done in a timely manner, leaving your evenings free, or feel compell ..read more
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Decide Your Next Decade
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
1M ago
Next week, Cal Newport and I are opening a new session of our popular course, Life of Focus. This three-month course has helped thousands of people struggling with distraction become more focused in their work, life and mind—so they can pay attention to what matters most. This week, we’re sharing lessons drawn from the course. If you missed the first two lessons, you can find them here and here. What could you do in the next ten years if you knew you could focus on anything you chose? Would you learn multiple languages? Get in incredible shape? Build a business? Become a star performer in yo ..read more
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The Psychology Behind Why You Can’t Put Down Your Phone
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
1M ago
Next week, Cal Newport and I are holding a new session of our popular course, Life of Focus. The course is a three-month program designed to help you become more focused in your work, life and mind—so you can pay attention to what matters most. This week, we’ll be sharing lessons drawn from the course. You can read the first lesson here. The iPhone is less than two decades old. Yet the psychology behind why it is so hard to put your phone down has been understood for almost a century. In 1898, the great psychologist Edward Thorndike proposed one of the first rules of behavior: The Law of Eff ..read more
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5 Ways to Make Studying Fun (Without Sacrificing Effectiveness)
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
1M ago
Learning requires focus. The reason is simple: Learning is a process of building long-term memories.  You form long-term memories of what you pay attention to. Attention is limited. You can’t pay attention to multiple things at once. But just because learning demands our focus doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. Many activities put strenuous demands on our attention but we enjoy doing them anyway: video games, sports, puzzles and more. The opportunity cost theory of effort helps to explain the discrepancy. According to this theory, because our attention is limited, the motivational circ ..read more
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My 10 Most Popular Essays of 2023
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
2M ago
This year was a busy one for me! I finished writing my second book, Get Better at Anything, which will be published in May. My wife and I also welcomed our second child, Julia. Oh, and I published 51 new essays! Below are some of the most popular essays I published last year, in case you missed any! 10 Ways You Can Use ChatGPT to Learn Better – A compilation of some reader recommendations for how they use ChatGPT to study better. The Key to Sustainable Productivity – In order to become more productive, you have to worry less about feeling productive and more about creating systems that allow ..read more
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