The gap between an idea and execution is vast and has to be filled with the necessary skills. In an effort to develop new personal interests and start several passion projects, I came up with a productivity system that keeps me grounded and is highly effective for learning new skills. I am learning that there has to be a desire to pursue the said interests otherwise such goals die off with the quickness. Learn The Ropes is the system I use to learn a new thing completely out of my range or build on skills and knowledge I already have.
Adding knowledge and new capabilities to your toolbox should be your everyday goal. It could be a life lesson, a business lesson, a new skill to advance your career or a technology competency to improve your skill-base.
Starting a Passion Project and learning new skills while at it.
1. Recognize the skill you are lacking.
2. Does it pass the fun test?
Choose projects based on your excitement for the work, not just the result. Then talk yourself into doing the project. My set of skills to learn and master are neatly arranged on my Trello Board for future use.
3. State the reasons why you want to pursue it and what you will do with the skill once acquired.
4. Find people who have the skills you want to learn, observe them closely and make better their approach.
5. Break down the skills into the most essential (20% of the total) sub-skills to master.
6. Set a daily structure for practice and mastery.
The X Effect.
You are the house you build. Your habits can make you or break you. I use the X effect system as the best choice of structure which I picked from Reddit several years ago. It is about building a pattern of action that you will continue with for a long period of time or until you choose to break the habit to max your productivity or find fulfillment. It can also be used to alter behavior deemed destructive.
This involves making a 7×7 grid on a card (or plain paper) and crossing off the days with a (marker) pen. Meaning it will take a total of 49 days for a habit to fully form. That notwithstanding, pick one task/habit at a time for a duration of 2 weeks. Be specific with the task eg Meditate for 5 minutes.
Then introduce another task after a fortnight. Meanwhile, the initial tasks that require more time will run concurrently. The ones that don’t will end after the fortnight. Apps such as X effect, HabitBull and 7 weeks serve the same purpose if not better.
7. Block all the distractions during this period. Consume as much as possible. Let it marinate.
It pops up – within 6 months even.
8. Learn just enough to go about doing the skill. Don’t spend all your time reading how to write when the only way to improve on your writing is to write and write some more. Motivate yourself into action. Once you’re actually engaged with your goal, your experience will dictate what you need to learn while making immediate use of the learnings in the real world to validate the path.
9. Track your progress at night when winding down. Monday is the ideal start day for new cards. Indicate with reason if you fail to do a task.
10. Make learning a lifelong habit by investing in your skill.
This method is not a guarantee that you will learn all the stuff you want to. There will be off days, lazy days, guilt days when you have this vision of the person you want to be yet not moving in the right direction. When you notice you are not living to your full potential, anxiety guilt or shame may manifest. Then you lose the discipline and focus you once had to help you accomplish your goals. Plans, programs and schedules don’t give you discipline, they require it.
You need to recognize and understand why these feelings show up and use those signals to change behavior immediately. That is discipline. So choose meaningful things to learn and not just fantasy. In the end, it comes down to much you want it. Make time. Stick with the system. Keep adding to your library. Review progress made.
Synthesize knowledge from a wide variety of sources. Speaking of, you will find this article on the best websites to learn a new skill quite resourceful.