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Study resolutions

As mentioned in my poll, I usually don't make New Year's resolutions. But I recently did make resolutions, and it's near New Year's, so hey. Anyway, there are various subjects I've wanted to become better at: Spanish, Japanese, physics (Feynman lectures), machine learning (Ng course), drawing. Many of which I started an embarrassingly long time ago, with limited progress or even effort. So my new goal is to spend at least 10 minutes a day on each. Or if that somehow feels too much, 1 minute. Something. Also, at least one new word a day of Spanish and Japanese.  Emphasis on "at least"; going longer is fine, but aim to do at least that much a day, every day.

This doesn't sound like much, and it's not, but it's something. The key idea is that I feel it's easier to keep doing something than to start doing something, so lower the mental barrier to starting as much as possible. Arguably a more efficient plan would be to budget 40 minute 'class periods' to each subject, maybe 2x a week. But beyond the fact that I'm not used to keeping such a regular schedule without outside structure, there's also that it's a lot easier to go "ugh, I don't have the time or energy for 40 minutes, I'll make it up later", with that later becoming never. And I'm speaking from experience. Whereas 10 minutes is like an extended potty break. 1 minute should be doable for anyone not feverish or critically depressed.

10 minutes a day is 60 hours a year, which still isn't a lot: a class at Caltech was budgeted for 90 hours (3 class, 6 homework a week, for 10 weeks.) But again, more than I've managed apart from Spanish. 1 minute a day is 6 hours, which is more than I've drawn most years.

Nice ideas; do I have any evidence? Yes: I've had the 40 minute class periods idea before, and not gotten far. Conversely, my daily Duolingo budget is a measly 10 points, on a scale of 10 to 50, and I have a streak longer than a year. I also use Anki flashcards for Spanish vocabulary, and going through them takes about 10 minutes a day, and I've been pretty regular with that. So: aim low but regular and hope for spillover, rather than aim high and miss and get discouraged and stop aiming at all.  And while my Spanish progress has been slow, there has been some detectable progress.
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Damien Sullivan

Latest Month

December 2020



  • 17 Aug 2019, 04:45
    I use Yardley's English Lavender soap, and a bar lasts a good long while.
  • 19 Sep 2018, 20:20
    The block south of me is the 400s, whereas mine has addresses like 17-11.

    Ah, gobbled up in the rift, no doubt.
  • 10 Sep 2018, 20:14
    The most systematic way I have is working through a tutorial for the language.

    A couple years ago I'd been working on what I called Language Reference Suites, which were big blobs of code doing…
  • 10 Sep 2018, 20:10
    No, but my roommates had a cat that would stalk and attack me.
  • 10 Sep 2018, 15:26
    Do you have some systematic way of learning a new coding language, or characterizing it for reference as you learn it?
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