Deliberate Practice for Knowledge Workers

I read these posts (link 1 & link 2) by Tyler Cowen, the second one in particular about what Tyler is doing daily to train his knowledge worker skills.

I realized that there are a few things that I do as well.

Reading #

For one, there is reading. I read a fair bit, and I have a good balance of what I read currently, i.e. the ratio between

Some of the reading is connected to other media, such as video (lectures, talks, podcasts) and audio (lectures, podcasts). I have an Audible subscription and I end up with too many open credits. There are a couple of disadvantages with audiobooks, probably worth a future article.

Because I am currently about half way in How To Read a Book, I guess that is worth mentioning in this context. This particular book, and there are others like it, is meant to facilitate and improve reading and understanding. Therefore, I am thinking of it as a learning/training-project in and of itself.
How To Take Smart Notes would be another example.

Typing #

I occasionally get into doing some typing exercises. This may or may not be something to even list here. Proficiency in touch typing should play a role. Maybe this is even the closest to (what most people imagine when they hear) “practicing scales”.
I use and sometimes throw in a round of ZType, just for fun.

English #

I have to list English, the language. I’m not a native speaker, although quite fluent. Getting to my current level has taken years, but I am so grateful that this “happened” without being much of an effort or struggle for me. Learning English allows me to connect with people, work, have access to an incredible wealth of knowledge. It is simply foundational, almost a sine qua non.

Many books are not being translated from English, ever. A lot of technical material is published primarily in English.

Also, the internet, or rather most of its users, speak and write English. Speaking English is a gateway to so many things. It is hard to overstate this. Another, maybe similar universe and culture to which I have no access to would be Chinese I assume it is very different, culturally and sort of “directionally”.

Part of my continuous efforts to improve my English is the practice to look up words, meanings, definitions, and also entire concepts. There is a huge difference between looking up the word “providence” for example, just so I remind myself of what the German correlate is, and trying to look up something like “ergodicity”. The latter will lead to a field of study rather than an immediate aha-moment. At this points, and I have come across the concept a few times now, I have a faint idea, almost like a hunch, but nothing firm. This is still on my list.

Conversing #

Good conversations and discussions would also be a kind of training. I am not doing enough of these on a regular basis, and outside of work.

Writing #

Lastly, writing. This is an ongoing project of improvement for me. I recently began to appreciate the clarity and conciseness I can achieve in writing and editing. I hope more of that will seep into my speech.


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