Slow and Steady, and Routine
You haven’t gotten any sleep all week, so you try to get one night of 12 hours to make up for it all. It doesn’t work very well, does it?
You haven’t worked out in a month, so you spend all day in the gym to make up for it. It doesn’t work, does it?
Certain things cannot be compressed. Learning new skills is one of them. It requires repetition, practice, and a steady pace.
Frank Vermeulen on Harvard Business Review’s blog tells a great story as an example on his post Slow and Steady Wins the Growth Race:
I used to have cello lessons on Saturday morning. I would play a certain piece in front of my teacher and then she would give me a new piece to practice for next week.
Some weeks, I practiced for half an hour the following Sunday, then half an hour on Monday, the same on Tuesday, etc., so that when my next lesson would be up, I would have practiced for a total of three hours (6 days; half an hour each). And I usually would be able to play the piece in front of my teacher reasonably well.
Some weeks, however, I forgot about it altogether. By the time it was Friday, I would realize, “It’s my cello lesson tomorrow and I haven’t practiced at all yet!”
What I would usually do then is think, “I will just practice for three hours in a row now. That’s the same amount of time as half an hour each day for six days, and I am sure I will be fine.” But I never was. It never worked. I would be terrible, and my teacher’s ears would hurt for hours after she sent me away.
I couldn’t understand at the time how that was possible. Three hours is three hours, right?
Here are some tactics that you might utilize to help you with such development:
1. Set reminders
If you are learning a new behavior, it requires practice “in the moment.” For this, we need reminders. If, for example, you have the opportunity to practice the new behavior during one-on-one meetings, then put a reminder to yourself in your calendar notice.
2. Build routine times
If you want to learn a new skill, set time aside to do it. For example, develop a mastery of observing waste by spending 30 minutes doing a waste walk once a week.
3. Set response standards
If you want opportunities to practice a new skill, you can set a trigger where every time X happens, I will do Y. For example, if you’re learning to observe current reality as a skill, then every time you have a quality defect you could set a standard that you will go to the point of activity to observe.
Truly internalizing behaviors and skills cannot be done all at once. It takes repetitive practice, which cannot be compressed into one single experience.
What mechanisms have worked for you?