How I'll kill it in 2014
How I'll kill it in 2014
Indulge me if you will, as I indulge myself. :)
I have a new goal for 2014. I don't want a goal to be based purely on end of the year performance because that's difficult to predict and to hold myself accountable for. Instead, I have a goal that is an ongoing behavior, so I can ensure that it gets done, and eliminate the possibility of providing myself excuses if it doesn't.
The end game is to be good enough to have confidence that my combined scores will put me in the top 16 in the world at the 2014 WMC. Doing so would get me a paid vacation to San Diego for the XMT in 2015, if there is one. If I don't have a fairly high degree of confidence that I can achieve this goal, I won't consider the expenditure of a trip to China warranted in 2014. I don't mean to sound elitist, and I hold this opinion for myself ONLY, on account of the following plan.
I calculated the monthly improvement needed for my scores in the 10 WMC events to get to a score 800 in each event, at a minimum, and a little higher for those couple events that I'm already pretty good at, which basically means speed cards and speed digits. For those of you who don't know, a score of 800 is really, really good, like somewhere in the neighborhood of top 3 in the world. So it's ok if I don't get there for any given event.
1) Effective practice is tailored to your skill level.
2) Effective practice is goal oriented.
3) Learning decays with each successive trial.
The fact is that the amount of improvement needed in any given is more than manageable when you divide it by 9! Does is seem unreasonable that a person could improve the amount of speed numbers he can memorize, at his very best, by 1 extra locus per month? If I do that's an increase of 81 digits by December, for a total score of 411, which is definitely world-class, and the kind of score I had never seriously envisioned myself achieving at any point in time, because it has just seemed so far out of reach. Now that it has been put in perspective, it seems doable. Does is seem feasible that a person can improve the speed at which he memorizes a deck of cards by 1 second per month? If I do, I'll tie the world record by December. Obviously that schedule will break down eventually. The end goals would have to be reassigned and divided at that point, but I digress.
The following is just about exactly how Jonas von Essen practices as far as I know. I don't think anyone improves more in a 9 month period than he does, so his practice schedule is an idea model. It fits beautifully into the confines of everything I know about effective practice, so there wasn't much adjustment needed.
Daily practice will take place in 2 blocks of 90 minutes. The first will take place the very first thing in the morning. The second will be in the evening or before bed. Each discipline will be cycled through evenly, always, in order to eliminate the bias that comes with enjoying some things more than others. Each discipline will be practice twice successively. After 90 minutes, I stop. I will organize the disciplines by length and by number of loci used so that I can always practice them this way, in 90 minute blocks, giving my loci maximum rest. The first run will be with the target of my monthly goal, which is always just out of reach. During this run, I will note any causes for error that I can identify. The second run will be a championship rehearsal run - a high score that I can get. This way, I don't just live for those ephemeral moments where I break a PB. I actively get better. During this run, I will intentionally work on improving at whatever caused my error the run before. Hour disciplines won't be repeated twice successively, since they use so many loci and take so long for memorization + recall. When I hit my monthly goal, I will begin working on next month's goal ahead of time. When I don't hit my monthly goal, I will continue working on that same goal over the next month. When that occurs, extra drills will be designed to improve at these particular skills. Those drills will be practiced outside of the 3 hour training time, as will the maintenance and reviews that come with having a big system, and as will the creation of new memory palaces, which I need a lot more of. I recently got my Texas Real Estate License so that I can always be building new palaces during the day, and reviewing them in person, all while working.
That's it! Every month on the 1st, I'll update this thread.
Thoughts welcome, opinions invited. :)