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Flywheel

On Incremental Deliverables

I mentioned this early on in starting this blog, but I thought that one of the things that would keep me blogging was the satisfaction of small victories. Each blog post I finished would be a complete deliverable, giving me regularly scheduled wins. That would build internal motivation to continue, because I’d get get inherent satisfaction from writing more and more blog posts. While I do think this satisfaction has helped me to continue the process of blogging,  it hasn’t helped with doing it on a regular schedule.

I know for me, I have problems building consistent habits. I’ll do things for a few months, then burn out. I won’t necessarily drop it forever, but I’ll do it at inconsistent intervals. That’s fine for recreation, like hobbies or movie watching, but for things like building up skills or relationship improvement, these things suffer immensely from lack of consistent participation.

I took an online course about metalearning, called Learning How to Learn. The general concept is that learning is a skill that varies from person to person, that can be improved in various ways. The course walks through the theory and some general techniques that participants can take away from the course to improve their learning abilities:

Theory:

  • Daily consistent practice is better for learning than doing large batches inconsistently. That is, cramming for a test is much less effective for long term learning than if you’d spent five minutes every day going through the material. I believe the course calls this concept “chunking”.
  • There are two modes of focus: wide open focus, and narrow focus. I can’t remember the terms the course uses, but these two modes have different applications. (Looking it up, it’s called the “focused” and “diffused” modes of thinking. Learn how to apply both of them to improve overall learning.

Application:

  • Use the Pomodoro technique: set a timer and focus entirely on your task for the duration. After you complete a session, give yourself a reward.
  • In regards to giving yourself a reward, this is the same concept as the incremental deliverable: getting a small bursts of satisfaction regularly encourages you to keep going at it.
  • Don’t cut out sleep. Sleep deprivation affects your ability to learn.
  • If you’re stuck on a problem, take some time off and go for a walk on something. This lets you think about the problem in a different way.

I kind of lost track of the point of this post, but at least it reminded me of that online learning course – it’s pretty interesting, even if it feels slow at times..

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