practice http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7942/all en-US Crappy practice is a waste of time http://www.wisebread.com/crappy-practice-is-a-waste-of-time <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/crappy-practice-is-a-waste-of-time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/hermit-crab.jpg" alt="Hermit Crab" title="Hermit Crab" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you want to get good at something, you need to practice. If you're not trying to get better, and just want to enjoy doing whatever it is, there's no need to practice--do what you love and ignore anyone who wants you to do it better. But if you're going to practice, then practice. Don't do something else and call it practice. That's no good.</p> <p>A while back I was talking to some friends about the idea (known for some time now, but recently popularized in the book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1591842247?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1591842247"><cite>Talent Is Overrated</cite></a>) that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-become-an-expert">develop expertise at some skill</a>.&nbsp; I had just written a post about the work by K. Anders Ericsson, the researcher whose work demonstrated that the number of hours semed to be the same over a wide range of activities from chess to tennis to playing the violin.</p> <p>Ericsson defined a term &quot;deliberate practice,&quot; by which he meant doing some piece of the task, monitoring the quality of the performance, evaluating success, figuring out how to do it better, and then repeating that process and trying to do it better. But when I tried to describe it, my friend interrupted me and said, &quot;practice.&quot; I backed up and tried again, but once again, my friend insisted that what I was talking about was &quot;practice&quot;--not anything special or out of the ordinary. Just practice.</p> <p>Ericsson justified creating a special term this way:</p> <blockquote><p>We call these practice activities deliberate practice and distinguish them from other activities, such as playful interaction, paid work, and observation of others, that individuals can pursue in the domain.</p> </blockquote> <p>But my friend was right: It degrades the language to invent a new, special term to mean what &quot;practice&quot; already means. Better to keep &quot;practice&quot; to mean practice. If anything needs to be given a new term, it should be the non-practice activities that sometimes masquerade as practice.</p> <p>When a musician gives a performance, he's trying to entertain the audience, not get better at playing his instrument. When a worker on assembly line builds a widget, he's trying to build a good widget, not get better at making widgets. When someone plays a video game, he's trying to have fun, not get better at playing video games. As long as these non-practice activities are not intended as practice, all is well.</p> <p>(It's worth mentioning that any of these activities may, in fact, result in increased expertise--because some amount of monitoring quality, evaluating success, and figuring out how to do it better is going on. But that just means that these other things--performing, working, playing--include some aspects of practice. It's fine to acknowledge this, but don't imagine that these activities are thereby transformed into practice.)</p> <p>Degrading the term &quot;practice&quot; has a real downside. If you let yourself call it practice, when what you're actually doing is just playing around, you're going to do more playing around and less practice--because playing around is easy and practice is hard. That's bad if you're trying to get better, because if what you're doing is not practice, you're not going to develop expertise.</p> <p>Practice doesn't need a new name--it has long been understood. Neither do we need a new name for those other things you might be doing (&quot;performing&quot; or &quot;working&quot; or &quot;teaching&quot; or &quot;playing&quot; or &quot;observing&quot; or &quot;reading&quot; or &quot;studying&quot;). Perhaps, though, it's appropriate to come up with a new name for whatever it is that people do when they call it practice, but what they're really doing is just playing around. I've started to call that &quot;crappy practice.&quot;&nbsp; And the important thing to remember is that crappy practice is no good way to get better at something.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/crappy-practice-is-a-waste-of-time">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-become-an-expert">How to Become an Expert</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-launder-money">How to Launder Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-things-car-salesmen-dont-want-you-to-know">17 Things Car Salesmen Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-ways-to-lower-your-blood-sugar">13 Natural and Easy Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-one-good-financial-reason-why-you-shouldnt-live-in-the-present">Here&#039;s One Good Financial Reason Why You Shouldn&#039;t Live in the Present</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks expertise practice Tue, 09 Jun 2009 20:40:24 +0000 Philip Brewer 3246 at http://www.wisebread.com When poor folks have better crap than you http://www.wisebread.com/when-poor-folks-have-better-crap-than-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/when-poor-folks-have-better-crap-than-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/guitar-camera-game-ipod-krishna_0.jpg" alt="Some stuff I&#039;ve got" title="Cool Stuff" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="305" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Every notice how upset people get, when someone poorer than them has better crap? I&#39;m talking about the guy agonizing over whether to spring for a 32-inch flat screen who finds out that his poorer neighbor has come home with a 42-inch one. It&#39;s bad enough trying to keep up with the Jones; when you have trouble keeping up with the guy living on the wrong side of the tracks, it&#39;s a source of constant aggravation.</p> <p>I think this is a really natural emotion, but it&#39;s also a harmful one. I&#39;ve seen it from more than one side.</p> <p>I wrote a post a while back arguing that the fact that many families now have two people in the workforce was because standards of living had risen; if you were willing to live at a 1950s standard of living, you could still get by with a single income. (I also pointed out that there&#39;s a name for that--it&#39;s called &quot;<a href="/our-high-high-standard-of-living-1">living in poverty</a>.&quot;)</p> <p>A lot of people didn&#39;t like that post. Some people disputed it on factual grounds, doing a back-of-envelope budget for a poor person to show that it was impossible (but without considering the sort of extreme solutions that were common in the 1950s, such as moving in with your wife&#39;s parents; most didn&#39;t even consider carpooling). Other people seemed to think that I was trying to claim that poverty wasn&#39;t poverty (even though I&#39;d used that very word).</p> <p>Other people did like the post, but some of them liked it in the unsavory way that I&#39;m talking about--suggesting that living in poverty isn&#39;t so bad, as long a you&#39;ve got good crap.</p> <p>(On that topic, I saw a great cartoon recently, where a <a href="http://www.salon.com/comics/boll/2007/09/13/boll/">rich guy disputes the poverty of a poor guy</a>, pointing out all the stuff he&#39;s got. In 1800: &quot;You can&#39;t be poor! You&#39;ve got a shirt!&quot; In 1975: &quot;You can&#39;t be poor! You&#39;ve got a TV!&quot; In 1990: &quot;You can&#39;t be poor! You&#39;ve got a VCR!&quot; Let me just say, as I&#39;ve said before, living in poverty is bad, <a href="/voluntary-simplicity-versus-poverty">even if the poor person spends as much as a frugal person</a>.)</p> <p>Still, I&#39;ve felt that ire myself. I&#39;m somewhat prone to be in that situation, because of where I live.</p> <p>My apartment complex has an odd mix of tenants. Rents are at the lower end of the range for the area, so there are a good number of working-class folks along with graduate students, senior citizens, single folks, couples, new families, and so on. The place has quite a cosmopolitan air, actually, due to the number of foreigners who live here. It&#39;s a milieu that I rather like--I get to mix with a lot of different kinds of people. A good number of my neighbors have modest incomes, which is yet another aspect of the diversity that I enjoy.</p> <p>There are also other upsides to this. One is is that it gives me a valuable perspective, as far as the &quot;keeping up with the Joneses&quot; thing goes. If you live or work where the Joneses make as much as (or more than) you, it&#39;s easy for that perspective to work against you. For example, whenever my former employer was hiring in a hot job market, new software engineers would start showing up with expensive new cars for which a signing bonus had provided the down payment. Looking at the parking lot quite easily gave one a skewed notion of what was normal. Living here helped me avoid that.</p> <p>Still, inevitably, some neighbors have better crap than me. Some of them may not be poorer than me. Maybe, as I used to be, they are well-paid professionals who chose to live here because it suits them. Maybe they&#39;re students from affluent families willing to subsidize their lifestyle. Maybe they&#39;re just young singles who can comfortably afford nice crap because they have no debts and no one else to support. </p> <p>In many cases, though, they&#39;re people who are making poor decisions about their spending--and that&#39;s aggravating to watch. It makes me feel bad for them, and it also makes me feel bad for myself, because I don&#39;t have everything I want.</p> <p>Both these feelings are pernicious. One of the reasons I write for Wise Bread is to deal with the first. (Far better for me to advocate for living within your means here, where there&#39;s an interested audience, than to buttonhole my neighbors and criticize their lifestyle choices.) One of the reasons I read Wise Bread is to deal with the second. (It helps to be part of a supportive community of people trying to avoid the harmful effects of our consumer culture.)</p> <p>I think this is one of those situations where a Buddhist attitude provides the best results. When people around you make unwise choices the appropriate emotion to feel is <strong>compassion</strong>, not ire. When you find yourself wishing for better crap the appropriate emotion to feel is <strong>gratitude</strong> for the crap you&#39;ve got, not envy for someone else&#39;s.</p> <p>It&#39;s not always easy to choose how to feel about things. It takes practice, and it takes paying attention to what you&#39;re doing and how you&#39;re feeling. But it&#39;s practice that worth doing. And what you&#39;re doing and how you&#39;re feeling are worth paying attention to.</p> <p>And, if you simply must have more and better crap, check out Myscha&#39;s post: <a href="/stash-your-cash-how-to-have-cool-crap-for-less-money">Stash Your Cash: How to Have Cool Crap for Less Money</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-poor-folks-have-better-crap-than-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/let-things-go">Let things go</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-millennials-have-changed-money-so-far">6 Ways Millennials Have Changed Money (So Far)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-money-habits-that-make-you-look-financially-immature">11 Money Habits That Make You Look Financially Immature</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-simple-ways-to-split-bills-with-your-spouse">3 Simple Ways to Split Bills With Your Spouse</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/its-the-21st-century-why-is-your-money-stuck-in-the-20th">It&#039;s the 21st Century — Why Is Your Money Stuck in the 20th?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Lifestyle attention compassion gratitude practice zen Tue, 20 Nov 2007 13:26:24 +0000 Philip Brewer 1411 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Become an Expert http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-become-an-expert <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-become-an-expert" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/389551020_a630456dd2.jpg" alt="Learning chess" title="Learning chess" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="163" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>This article is not about how to fake being an expert, so it's not some quick, easy thing you can do and then be way better at something tomorrow. It's about actually becoming an expert, which will take time and effort. You can spend the time and effort, though, and fail to become an expert. Here's how to spend it and succeed.</p> <p>Just to be clear, this is about becoming an expert at <strong>doing</strong> something. People use the same word to describe being an expert <strong>about</strong> something, but this is about doing.</p> <p>At any skill that's difficult, becoming an expert will take a long time. The thing is, not becoming an expert takes just as long.</p> <p>Old joke:</p> <p><em>Q: Do you know how old I'd be, if I spent the next twenty years learning how to play the piano?</em></p> <p><em>A: The same age you'd be if you spent the next twenty years <strong>not</strong> learning how to play the piano.</em></p> <h2>Developing expertise</h2> <p>So, how do you become an expert at doing something? The answer, of course, is &quot;practice,&quot; but there are two complications.</p> <p>The first is that you can't really practice until you can do your activity, at least at some minimal level. That's one place where all the other activities besides practice come in: taking a class, reading a book, watching someone else do it. (There are also activities that are too dangerous to just jump in and start practicing on your own &mdash; clearing unexploded munitions, for example.)</p> <p>The second is that there's useful practice (deliberate practice) and then there's all the other things you might do that are easier than deliberate practice, but that don't help you develop expertise.</p> <h2>Deliberate practice</h2> <p>Deliberate practice is just this:</p> <ol> <li>performing your skill (or, more typically, a piece of it)</li> <li>monitoring your performance</li> <li>evaluating your success</li> <li>figuring out how to do it better</li> </ol> <p>and then repeating that sequence again and again.</p> <p>That's it. That's how to become an expert. Most experts have done just that, for hours a day, for years.</p> <p>Most of the information here is based on K. Anders Ericsson's paper <a href="http://projects.ict.usc.edu/itw/gel/EricssonDeliberatePracticePR93.pdf">The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance</a>. That paper has data for violin players, piano players, chess players, gymnasts, runners, tennis players, and swimmers. The domain doesn't seem to matter &mdash; deliberate practice is the key developing expert performance.</p> <h2>Not deliberate practice</h2> <p>Deliberate practice isn't a lot of fun. What's fun is actually doing whatever it is you've learned how to do. You will even get better at your activity through just doing it (because to some extent you will be monitoring, evaluating, and figuring). But <em>just doing your activity won't make you an expert</em>, even if you do it a lot.</p> <p>Becoming an expert takes deliberate practice, and deliberate practice is what's described above.</p> <p>Everything else is <strong>not</strong> deliberate practice:</p> <ul> <li>Taking a class (although some classes might include some deliberate practice in them)</li> <li>Attending a lecture</li> <li>Reading an article or a book</li> <li>Watching an expert perform</li> <li>Teaching</li> <li>Most especially, actually performing your skill isn't deliberate practice</li> </ul> <p>Now, any of those activities may be useful, but their use is largely in <em>improving your monitoring and evaluating skills</em>. When you're still trying to learn how to tell if you're doing well or poorly, a teacher can be a big help. If you're starting to feel like you're really getting quite good, watching a real expert can help you re-calibrate your self-evaluation.</p> <h2>Spotting deliberate practice</h2> <p>Once you've been made aware of the difference between &quot;practice&quot; (i.e. just doing your activity) and &quot;deliberate practice,&quot; you'll begin to spot deliberate practice all over the place:</p> <ul> <li>A musician playing scales</li> <li>A kid playing the same level of a video game over and over again</li> <li>A child learning to walk</li> </ul> <p>Actually, small children do this all the time. If you want to understand the acquisition of expert performance, just watch a child learning to walk, learning to talk, learning to make something work. You'll see deliberate practice in its purest form.</p> <h2>Becoming an expert writer</h2> <p>Happily for me, writing for Wise Bread is giving me a chance to develop some expertise as a writer. There's an internal cycle where I write something, read it, evaluate whether it clearly says exactly what I want to say, and then try to make it better. That is, my ordinary write-edit-rewrite cycle amounts to deliberate practice.</p> <p>There's also an external cycle where I post it to the web and see if the comments show that people understood it and found it useful. That external cycle isn't deliberate practice, but it helps me get better at the monitoring and evaluating steps &mdash; it makes my future deliberate practice more effective.</p> <p>That's it in a nutshell: Develop expertise through deliberate practice.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-become-an-expert&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520to%2520Become%2520an%2520Expert_0.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Become%20an%20Expert"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Become%20an%20Expert_0.jpg" alt="How to Become an Expert" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-become-an-expert">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-classes-that-can-pay-for-themselves">10 Classes That Can Pay for Themselves</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-spending-3-on-you-will-advance-your-career">Here&#039;s How Spending 3% On You Will Advance Your Career</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/crappy-practice-is-a-waste-of-time">Crappy practice is a waste of time</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-self-improvement-apps-to-make-you-smarter-stronger-and-happier">10 Self-Improvement Apps to Make You Smarter, Stronger, and Happier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-fun-games-that-make-you-smarter-too">11 Fun Games That Make You Smarter, Too</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development classes deliberate practice expert expertise practice training Sun, 07 Oct 2007 11:04:20 +0000 Philip Brewer 1260 at http://www.wisebread.com