In the month of May 2018, I’m writing all about helping you become a better learner. In the last post, we talked about the Pareto Principle and figuring out what 20% of actions would lead to 80% of the results. After figuring out our goals and breaking down these goals into smaller, learnable blocks, figuring out what’s most important is key for success in your learning.
Let’s go a step further. After coming up with the best actions to take, it’s now time to optimize your actions by looking to answer the questions, “how can I best sequence my actions to get the best results?”
The goal with learning and doing is not just to find the right pieces of the puzzle, but also, find how those pieces fit together.
In this post, I’ll be getting into step 3 of 4 in the learning strategy from the 4-Hour Chef, and talk about sequencing and how to optimally order your actions for successful learning.
Becoming a Better Learner with The 4-Hour Chef
Guiding us on our learning this month on how to become a better learner is the book the 4-Hour Chef, by Tim Ferris.
The 4-Hour Chef is a book about learning and how to become a better at it (and at the same time, teaches you how to cook… though that’s not what we are going to focus on this month).
In the book, Tim Ferris explains how anyone can be an expert in anything in 6 to 12 months, and if practiced effectively, even 6 to 12 weeks.
The 4-Hour Chef Learning Strategy is simple. Complexity is what trips up many people when they go to learn.
The 4-Hour Chef learning strategy can be remembered as DiSSS, and stands for the following:
- What are the smallest learnable pieces of information or tasks which you can break the learning into?
- From those smallest blocks of information, which ones should you focus on? (20/80 Principle)
- What is the correct order you should go about applying the important small blocks?
- How can ensure you follow the program? Can you set-up a system where if you don’t do the tasks you identified that there are real negative consequences?
So far in this series, we’ve touched on deconstruction and selection. Today’s post is about sequencing.
Optimally Ordering Your Actions for Success with Sequencing
Let’s say you are looking to bake a cake.
It’s probably not optimal to put the pan in the oven without any of the eggs or flour in the pan…
While this is an overly simplistic example, if you don’t do the things you are learning in the correct order, you may get sub-optimal results.
Ultimately, the purpose of this exercise is to ensure you are doing things and having continuous small wins. Many training programs have huge expectations up front and as a result, leave many people in the dust.
How do you optimally order your actions for success?
There are a few strategies for figuring out the optimal sequence of actions:
- Go in reverse
- Reverse engineering is a great strategy for understanding how things work.
- If you can take it apart, you can put it together
- Inventory what others have done
- You do’t need to reinvent the wheel – copying others’ paths work!
- Ask yourself if there’s anything in your past which you can leverage for your future
After performing the exercise of asking yourself these different questions and thinking critically, you are now equip with a plan.
Taking action is the next step – though for you, I’m guessing you would have taken some action already to figure out if your plan was a good one or not!
You now have the blueprint for success in your learning. Remember: consistent daily efforts lead to massive success – it might not be tomorrow, next week, or next month, but it will come.
Applying Sequencing in My Learning and Becoming a Better Piano Player
Show me, don’t just tell me.
Anyone can put up anything on the internet these days.
I can write all about learning and how to become a better learner, but all of that is wasted knowledge if I don’t actually apply it in my life. (it’s also bogus if I don’t practice what I preach!)
This month, alongside this series of posts, I’ve started playing piano again with the intent to learn how to become a better piano player.
My goals with my piano playing is to have a better musical ear, and also become better at sight reading.
For having a better ear, I’ve been learning more about music theory, and, in particular, chord progressions, scales, keys, and rhythms.
If I want to become better at improvisation or being able to replicate a popular song, I need to understand how music is made. Since these are my goals, then my actions need to be focused on working towards adding skills to become better at improvising.
What I determined was the following sequence for becoming better at improvisation:
- Learn and practice a certain scale
- Become comfortable going up and down the scale
- Arpeggios, chords, etc.
- Improvise over different chord progressions
- Think about popular songs in that key and see if I can replicate
Check out this post’s video where I talk more about sequencing, and improvise over the F scale:
Concluding Thoughts on Optimally Ordering Your Actions for Success in Learning
After setting your goal and deconstructing what you want to learn, figuring out the best course of action is critical.
What’s the best way about going towards your goals? While it’s great to know what the pieces of the puzzle are, it’s also equally as critical to figure out how these pieces of the puzzle fit together.
Again, ultimately, the purpose of this sequencing exercise is to ensure you are doing the right things and having continuous small wins. Many training programs have huge expectations up front and as a result, leave many people in the dust.
In the next post, we will look at the next step to learning: stakes.
Readers: when you go to learn something, how do you order the learnable blocks? Do you make a conscious effort to do things in the correct order?
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