Deliberate Practice: Part 2
In today's episode, we're talking specifically about deliberate practice.
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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode we are continuing our discussion on deliberate practice and performance tuning. This is part two if you missed out on the first part. I suggest you go back and listen to part one. You can find it at spec.fm. Today's episode is sponsored by Linode. With Linode you can instantly deploy and manage an SSD server in the Linode cloud. You can get a server running in just seconds with your choice of Linux distribution resources and node location. Thanks again to Linode for sponsoring Developer Tea. Before we start today's episode go ahead and take out your phone and subscribe to Developer Tea and whatever podcasting app you use. This is the most important thing you can do to stay up to date with Developer Tea. Now if you don't want to stay up to date with Developer Teathen that's okay. Don't go and subscribe. Of course you're going to get notifications that you don't want and I understand you don't want those notifications don't subscribe. But if you want to stay current with Developer Tea. I suggest you subscribe. We have some really important episodes that are coming up in the next couple of weeks and I don't want you to miss out on those so go and subscribe and whatever podcasting app you use. Okay let's jump into today's content. In today's episode I'm going to give you a few practical pieces of advice you can use when planning your practicing sessions, your deliberate practice sessions. We're continuing our discussion on deliberate practice and performance tuning. Last episode we discussed how important practice is and what exactly we mean by the term deliberate practice. Again if you missed out make sure you go and listen to that one. We have six different pieces of advice for you today so if you're taking notes now's the time to pull out the paper and pin. So my first piece of practical advice for those of you who want to engage in deliberate practice study how others have succeeded and how they are doing things and perhaps this is importantly study how others have failed. If you can learn to recognize the patterns and the cause and effect relationships in the work that other developers are doing around you you can start to see those patterns playing out in your own practice and in your own work. This is the idea of a case study. If you remember from school particularly in college you probably read a bunch of papers and if you're like me you have seen those things come up over and over again in your work. Case studies give us an idea of how things go when you make certain types of decisions. So if you can get good at recognizing patterns if you can get good at analyzing how others have failed then perhaps you can apply that information to your own work and you can apply that information to your own practice particularly if you are self coaching. This helps you steer your work away from the bad patterns and towards good patterns because you have developed the ability to recognize those patterns earlier. So number one study how others who have succeeded are doing things. Number two recognize that the action you are practicing and the driving skill set you use to accomplish that action are not necessarily always the same. In other words recognize the thing that you're doing and the skills that you are using to do that thing are not necessarily always the same. A better way of putting this is that the thing that you practice may not always be the thing you are practicing for an easy example of this the muscles used to jump or ride a bike for example may require a different type of practice than simply riding the bike over and over to gain better performance out of those muscles it's likely that you need to introduce some kind of weightlifting in the same way your coding skills can become better without ever riding a single line of code. You may for example learn how to solve problems on a whiteboard before you learn how to solve them in your code. So remember that the thing that you are practicing may not necessarily be the thing you are practicing for. Number three the practice feedback loop requires that you either adopt a new perspective or get someone else to give you their perspective. This is typically some kind of coaching figure that has experience and insight that you don't yet have and we touched on this in the last episode but the important thing the differentiator for today's episode is the concept of a different perspective. Therefore it's not nearly as valuable to get someone who codes in the same style as you who has about the same amount of experience who codes in the same language as you to provide you feedback. While they technically have a different perspective from you their perspective may not be different enough to provide enough value. If you have someone you look up to as a mentor you can ask them to help you in your practice sessions. This means observing and evaluating your practice work providing specific areas of actionable feedback and then observing for another round. If you do not have someone who can be your mentor or coach you will necessarily need to spend significant energy evaluating yourself to identify differences between where you are and where you want to be. This may require comparing your code to another person's code for example rather than drawing on your own experience to coach yourself. Ultimately the practice and feedback loop requires evaluation and it needs to be evaluation that looks at the work and finds the weaknesses. I've got three more pieces of advice that I will give you right after today's sponsor break. Today's sponsor is Linode. Linode has eight data centers their plan started $10 a month and you can get a server running in under a minute. They have hourly billing, a monthly cap on all their plans and they're out on services including backups, no balancers and long view. They have virtual machines for full control and of course you can run Docker containers and crypto disks, VPNs and pretty much anything else you want to run. You can even run a private get server. They have native SSD storage, a 40 gigabit network and they run on Intel E5 processors. If none of that makes you happy within seven days you can get your money back guaranteed. On top of all that value as of July 1, Linode now offers two gigabytes of RAM for only $10 a month and to convince you even further, Linode is giving you a $20 bill. They're simply giving you $20 by going to Linode.com slash Developer Tea. Of course that is a $20 credit that you can use on any of Linode services. Go and check it out Linode.com slash Developer Tea and use the code Developer Tea 20 at checkout. Thanks again to Linode for sponsoring Developer Tea. So we're talking about deliberate practice of giving you three pieces of practical advice and we're going to continue on number four is hyper focus on narrow problems with your performance. We touched on this very briefly in the last episode. The important point of practice is that you're hyper focused on a very narrow set of skills. In other words, the most narrow thing that you can focus on when practicing your focus should be absolutely singular. This means that you should identify one thing that you want to fix in your skill set or improve in your skill set. Maybe that one thing is using more effective naming in your code or perhaps it's writing clear comments. Don't approach a practice session with five things to get better at. Your energy should be targeted directly at fewer things that you want to improve in the scientific method. This is known as limiting variability in order to take feedback and change those specific skills to better them. You need to know that you're only changing for that particular skill. In other words, there's a little variability in what you are focusing on. So hyper focus on narrower problems with your performance. Number five, take notes. Take notes. It's very simple. If you don't take notes, you can easily forget what things you want to improve and what the changes you are trying are actually affecting. Don't rely on intuition when you're practicing. Note the process and take notes, especially on the feedback you receive. This is stuff that didn't come from your intuition. It's new information to you and you're likely to forget it. So make sure you write down about specifically about the feedback you receive. And lastly, number six, you must practice regularly, routinely, and during times of your best energy. If you aren't practicing regularly, routinely, and during times of your best energy, you're absolutely not going to see the most effective returns on your investment. Recognize the times that are most effective for you to practice, specifically when you have the most energy, both mentally and physically. For many people, this is earlier in the day when your mind is fresh and you're physically rested. Make a routine that you can maintain. Most experts maintain routines that don't take breaks on the weekends. What are you willing to do consistently? It's far better to commit to practicing one hour every day of the week than seven hours one day per week. So commit to a schedule, commit to a frequency and a routine and don't take breaks unless you absolutely have to. These are how you can create an effective practicing routine. So today, I've given you six pieces of practical advice. We're going to run back through them very quickly before we end out today's episode and our discussion on deliberate practice and performance. Number one, study how others who have succeeded are doing things. Number two, recognize that the action you are practicing and the driving skill set, the thing you are practicing and the thing you're practicing for may not necessarily always be the same. Number three, the practice and feedback loop requires that you either adopt a new perspective or get someone else to give you their perspective. Number four, hyper focus on narrower problems with your performance in a practice session. Number five, take notes. Number six, if you aren't practicing regularly and routinely and during times of your best energy, you will not see the most effective returns on your investment. So develop and routine. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Don't forget, Linode is offering you $20 and a seven day money back guarantee on top of all of the fantastic things they are already doing at Linode. Their plans started $10 a month. Go check it out. Linode.com slash Developer Tea and use the code Developer Tea 20 for $20 of credit at checkout. Thank you again to Linode. And once again, thank you to all of you who listen to this show regularly. I make this show for you and without you, the show would not exist. So thank you so much. You can always reach out to me at email@example.com. Of course, you can find the show notes for this episode and every other episode of Developer Teaat spec.fm. You can join the spec slack community by going to spec.fm slash slack. Make sure you share this episode with whoever you think needs to hear about deliberate practice. Sharing this episode is the most effective way to help other developers find Developer Tea. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.