My weird and often late work hours prevent me from falling into any sort of groove lately; my sleep schedule is all over the place and I can’t seem to get into any sort of routine. Not that I really need one, but I’d probably be more productive with one. I’m still working on writing things and programming musical things, but progress is slow on everything. The days seem to be flying by; every day feels like only a few hours. Suddenly an entire week is gone, and then the entire month. My mind is clearly shrinking.
I bought a book last week (or was it the week before?) called The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle, which is basically a book of tips (52 to be exact) about how to… improve your skills, I guess one could say. It’s a quick and easy read and full of great little nuggets of wisdom about how to practice skills productively. I have yet to try putting them to the test (especially as I was feeling pretty sick all through last week), but one tip stood out to me…
From page 112:
Tip 51: Keep Your Big Goals Secret
… Telling others about your big goals makes them less likely to happen, because it creates an unconscious payoff — tricking our brains into thinking we’ve already accomplished the goal. Keeping our big goals to ourselves is one of the smartest goals we can set.
Definitely one I’ll have to try. This very blog is riddled with my blathering about goals I never seem to reach. So I’m going to try just shutting up about them and see if that helps at all. (It’s not my only problem, I know, but it’s still worth trying.)
Other interesting tips from the book include:
- Tip 15: Break every move down into chunks
- Tip 18: Choose five minutes a day over an hour a week
- Tip 30: Take a nap
- Tip 46: Don’t waste time trying to break bad habits — instead, build new ones
- Tip 47: To learn it more deeply, teach it
The book makes a point about making a daily habit of things. The only daily habits I’ve gotten very good at are eating, sleeping, and taking showers. So that’s something I’ll have to work on. (Making new habits, that is, not eating and stuff.) The book also points out (as with the aforementioned tip 18) that just five minutes a day of focusing on some particular thing can make a big difference; it doesn’t have to be some hour and a half of dedication that will just wind up discouraging you from putting in any time at all. (“Oh, I don’t have enough time to focus very deeply today!”) So that’s definitely something I need to try.
Anyway, it’s a good book, and one that I’ll be rereading now and then. I especially appreciate how pithy it is. These self-helpy type books so often have only a few little points to actually make, but spread them out over a couple hundred pages bloated with boring personal stories and examples. And at the end the reader thinks, “Gee, that was good!” and then forgets what few main points there were, if there were even any at all. This book, on the other hand, is only main points, with pithy little paragraphs for a bit of elaboration. None of that annoying self-help bloating-to-make-it-book-length-to-sell-it stuff.
Here’s a TED talk by the author…
And here’s a funny comic from a talented person: