practice to master any skill:
1. Deliberate practice must be deliberate.
practice starts with a plan and has a goal. You might choose to focus
on driving to the basketball goal with your left hand or work on your minor
chord changes on the guitar. Randomly shooting baskets or strumming the guitar
while watching commercials isn’t deliberate.
Divide your goal into sub-skills. Consider what
you want to achieve and then determine the skills necessary to reach that goal.
2. Track your practice. Avoid relying on
your memory to track your practice. Use a notebook, spreadsheet, or other means
to record your results. Then review your practice session and make your plan
for your next session. Spend a few minutes on this.
The better your plan, the faster you’ll
progress. Avoid the trap of working mindlessly. Have a plan and continue
to strengthen that plan.
3. Find a way measure your skill. If
you’re mastering an instrument, record yourself and listen. If you’re
practicing your 3-point shot, determine your percentage of success.
4. Be smart. Deliberate practice, even in
small doses, can be much more effective than endless, mindless practice. Avoid
believing that you must practice 8+ hours per day to see significant results.
Focus on practicing as intelligently as
possible, and then worry about how much time you’re putting into it.
5. Turn off all distractions. Turn off
your electronic devices during your deliberate practice.
6. Practice near the limit of your capability.
You’ll get the best return on your time investment if your practice at the point
you make regular errors. Correcting those errors is vital. You don’t learn much
while doing things that are easy for you.
If you’re constantly making mistakes, pull back
a little. If you’re just learning to speak Russian, taking the equivalent of a PhD
level course won’t be useful.
7. Keep a regular schedule. Experts
believe the maximum amount of deliberate practice that can be completed in a
day is 4-5 hours. If you can do more than this, you’re probably not practicing
Limit your sessions to 90 minutes, or until
your focus starts to wander. Use multiple sessions to reach a maximum
of hours per day.
8. Seek a mentor. Until you’re an expert
yourself, you can’t accurately determine all of your mistakes. You also won’t
know the best way to correct them. Find a great mentor and use them
effectively. While you might not be able to have a mentor present for every
moment of your practice, spend as much time with them as possible.
Give deliberate practice a chance for a month. Resolve to
practice at least one hour each day for the next 30 days. Practice deliberately and stretch
yourself. You’ll be amazed at the improvement you enjoy in one, short