Code Fanatic | Linux Enthusiast | Retrogaming Freak - I love solving problems with code

Deliberate practice (or Not all practice matters)

Really interesting article by Anders Ericsson detailing his researches about deliberate practice (in the text he calls it purposeful practice).

In his experiment a lad learned to memorize sequences of 82 random digits.

In the first weeks he could only memorize 8 (or 9 when lucky). But after using some techniques he was able to improve.
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The "game changer" in the progress happened when they decided to change from "memorize as many digits as you can" to "focus on memorizing +X digits than you memorized in the last session (and don't move forward until you're comfortably memorizing this amount)". This also reminds me that thing about SMART Goals.

Here are my main takeaways:

  • Once you have reached a satisfactory skill level and automated your performance, you have stopped improving.
  • Generally speaking, once a person reaches that level of "acceptable" performance and automaticity, the additional years of practice don't lead to improvement (he calls it naive practice).
  • Moving from naive to purposeful practice can dramatically increase performance.
  • If anything, the doctor (or driver or whatever) who's been at it for 20 years is likely to be a bit worse than the one who's been doing it for only five, because these automated abilities gradually deteriorate in the absence of deliberate efforts to improve.

Anecdotal conversation

Music instructor and yong music student:

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ« - Your practice sheet says that you practice an hour a day, but your playing test was only a C. Can you explain why?
πŸ§‘β€ - I don't know what happened! I could play the test last night!
πŸ‘¨β€πŸ« - How many times did you play it?
πŸ§‘β€ - Ten or 20.
πŸ‘¨β€πŸ« - How many times did you play it correctly?
πŸ§‘β€ - Umm, I dunno... Once or twice...
πŸ‘¨β€πŸ« - Hmm... How did you practice it?
πŸ§‘β€ - I dunno. I just played it.

Purposeful practice characteristics

Purposeful practice...
  • ... has well-defined, specific goals.
    • it's all about putting a bunch of babysteps together to reach a longer-term goal.
    • break it down and make a plan

  • ... is focused
    • you seldom improve much without giving the task your full attention.

  • ... involves feedback
    • without feedback - either from yourself or from outside observers - you cannot figure out what you need to improve on or how close you are to achieving your goals.

  • ... requires getting out of one's comfort zone
    • it means tryint to do something that you couldn't do before.
    • sometimes you may find it relatively easy, but sometimes you run into something that stops you cold. Finding ways around these barriers is one of the hidden keys.
    • try harder != try differently
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Greetings from Brazil! I'm meleu!

Hello fellows!

I'm meleu, a Brazilian aspiring professional developer.

I knew about swyx while listening to the egghead podcast a few days ago and became really impressed about the perfect timing of it.


My history has some similarities with his. I'm also in a well paid job (at least for the brazilian standards) that brings me no satisfaction, and I want to be a developer. I work as a control room operator in an oil rig, it pays well but requires me to stay away from home for long periods of time (which is not cool when you have kids and want to be a present dad).

I'm almost 40, but, I love to code since I was a teenager. Even while working I managed to graduate in Computer Science. But as a father, I never took the courage to quit my job and cut that "safe" source of income.

In order to stay practicing I became involved with open source projects related to my hobby: retrogaming. Then I started to contribute with projects like RetroPie (which makes an intensive use of bash), RetroArch (I love coding with C) and became really involved in the RetroAchievements project (where I started to actually play with web technologies and also have been improving my soft skills).

While contributing with the web side of the RetroAchievements project I realized "hey! I really enjoy doing this. I think I can be paid to do similar things for others!". And then I decided to be a web developer for a living (if the word ikigai comes to your mind: hi five!).

Explaining why I say that swyx's book and my current situation were in a perfect timing...

In the end of 2019, being unhappy with my current job, I decided to use 2020 to save money AND study a lot of web development stuff on my freetime, specially the JavaScript / NodeJS / ReactJS ecosystem. (fun-fact: the pandemics helped me to save money, but with kids at home all the time, the available freetime to study became really scarce - waking up before 5 am is helping me to find some freetime, though).

Now, I'm about to quit my job (planing to do it in the first trimester of 2021) and I'm feeling lucky that I'm gonna do it with the swyx's book at hand.

And that's it!

I hope to make some friends around here. :)

Just in case someone want to connect, here are some links



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