This quote comes from the book, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, by Joshua Foer. It reminds us to think more critically about exactly how we hope to improve in the areas we want to improve in.
For illustration, let’s say you hope to improve your spelling. You can spend countless hours memorizing the spelling of every word in the dictionary and achieve that goal. However, you can make even greater strides in less time by studying orthography, learning spelling rules, and then memorizing exceptions to those rules. Perhaps, at this point, the dictionary comes in to quiz yourself or check your understanding. Contrary to the first approach, the second is not only more efficacious but also more enjoyable and motivating. Clearly, what’s essential isn’t so much how much time you spend practicing but how you practice.
So, what’s something you’d like to get better at? Besides finding time in your schedule to practice, here are a few things to consider to achieve mastery or improvement:
- Have you researched the best approaches?
- Do you have a comprehensive plan of action perhaps broken down into steps and stages?
- Do you have a way to measure your progress overall and within each stage?
- Is your plan enjoyable and motivating?
- Is your plan sustainable?