optimal practice frequency

The Optimal Practice Frequency for Becoming Better

Erik Learning, Personal Development and Lifestyle, Thoughts of a Mastermind 2 Comments


I need a break.

Have you ever been in the middle of learning something, taken a short 5 to 10 minute break, came back, and everything clicked?

Sometimes, the best thing to do when you are in a rut is to stop digging and take a break.

In the month of May, we are learning all about how to become a better learner.

What’s the optimal practice frequency for learning and becoming better?

In this post, we will be discussing another secondary technique for learning: frequency.

Learning How to Become a Better Learner with The 4-Hour Chef

4 hour chef learningHelping us out on our journey this month in how to become a better learner is the book the 4-Hour Chef, a book by Tim Ferris.

The 4-Hour Chef is all about how to become better at learning (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.

In this series, we have already covered the learning strategy, which has the acronym DiSSS: deconstructionselection, sequencing and stakes.

Next, there are some advanced techniques we need to cover to give you a full strategy and framework to learn anything.

The advanced techniques are represented by the acronym CaFE:

  • Compression
    • How can you compress and condense all of the information into a cheat sheet which is simple and not complex?
  • Frequency
    • How long should you practice? What is the right time period for your studying and doing for maximum effectiveness?
  • Encoding
    • How can you make your ideas and thoughts stick for the long term? Can you represent your thoughts with images or sounds for maximum retention?

Last post, we covered compression. In this post, we will cover frequency.

How Often and Long Should You Practice and be Learning?

One of the simplest, yet confusing questions is how long should you practice for progress.

Can you grow only doing 5 minutes a week? OR, should you be doing 25 minutes a day?

There are many studies on this, but what I’ve learned, is it just comes down to figuring out what works best for you and for your goals. If you want to become awesome at something fast, you will have to practice every day for at least a little bit.

One way to keep your level of engagement and efficiency at a high level is to take breaks.

If you are going to train for 30 minutes or more, then a break here and there will vastly improve your results.

One other pro learning hack is based on the Von Restorff effect: learning something and associating it with something crude or inappropriate will allow you to remember and keep going at a high level.

Retaining Knowledge 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.

For frequency, I’ve been playing 30 minutes a day, and watching YouTube videos and reading articles for about 15-45 minutes depending on the day.

Combining learning, with practicing and doing, seems to be a solid combination for me – though I’ve realized that the reading and watching seems to be the key here.

Here’s this post’s video where I talk more about frequency and play some more music for you.

Concluding Thoughts on the Optimal Practice Frequency for Becoming Better

When figuring out the frequency for your practicing and learning, it’s important to critically think and figure out what’s best for you.

I like 30 minutes a day, but others may find that a little overwhelming. Maybe you want to do more!

At the end of the day, again, figure out what works for you and your goals.

In the next post, I’ll touch on encoding and we will wrap up this month’s series on learning in the post after that.

Readers: how do you chunk your time spent learning? Do you take breaks? What’s your strategy?




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Comments 2

  1. I definitely think that consistency is key. And while it may seem overwhelming, I really do think practice makes perfect. You can’t expect to get great results without putting in the time. Of course, there’s a point where extra time won’t help if you’re burnt out. You just have to find that balance. Growing up, I took piano lessons and I only practiced before my lesson so I wouldn’t get into trouble with the teacher. I wasn’t the greatest student but luckily I was a fast learner. I don’t think that will fly anymore as I’ve gotten older.

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