10,000 Iterations

Previously, I mentioned that the 10,000 Hour Rule doesn't help to understand how to learn a new skill; it oversimplifies the learning process's essential details. People misinterpret this rule all the time.

Quality of practice matters. Deliberate practice is a purposeful and systematic training: instead of mindless repetitions, you set goals and focus on improving performance. It's supposed to help with efficient learning.

To me, 10,000 hours seem like a linear, monotonous, and tedious activity to master a skill. Do not do 10,000 hours, do 10,000 iterations. Iterations sound more practical: every iteration is a new approach, a deliberate practice, a non-linear step forward. With iterations, you have to be flexible, reflect on how you perform, and keep improving.

But what is an iteration, after all? Here's what I consider steps of a single iteration:

  • Define the desired outcome. A current understanding of how to improve a skill should guide you to the next milestone. It should be realistic to achieve.
  • Understand the change. What and how do you want to improve? What obstacles do you struggle with, and how do you plan to overcome them?
  • Practice the skill. That's the stage when you put all your efforts and try to accomplish the change.
  • Reflect on the result. What went well? What went wrong? Adapt and proceed with the next iteration.