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By Shane Parrish
February 11, 2015
IDEAS
Shane Parrish writes Farnam Street

Improving our performance is something we all seek to do. Given that we spend a lot of time doing things that we never get better at, I thought I’d share my “developing world class performance” file with you.

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Joshua Foer writes:

There is so much to how we practice and who we practice against:

Feedback loops in practice play an incredibly important role, which explains why we tend to stop getting better at things at work. In Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, Geoff Colvin writes:

You should work in chunks or pulses. (And don’t multi-task) Deliberate practice should be so hard that you can’t sustain it for very long.

From Talent is Overrated:

When practicing and playing there is a different mindset between average and top performers.

From Talent is Overrated:

Aside from practice, sleep is the next most important thing.

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So all of that is great for technical skills (like chess and music) but how can we develop the softer skills?

Speed things up. The way that Brazil develops its soccer players is fascinating. They use a game called futebol de salão, which creates a laboratory of improvisation.

From The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills:

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We can also improve our writing.

Ben Franklin intuitively grasped the concept of deliberate practice. As a teenager Ben received a letter from his father saying his writing was inferior: “in elegance of expression, in method and in perspicuity, of which he convinced me by several instances,” as Franklin recalled.

From Talent is Overrated:

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Here is a subsection I call the science of everyday performance.

To do our best work we need to focus.

From Your Brain At Work — Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

We all need routines or rituals, in part to make sure our decision-making energy goes toward the hard things, not what we’re ordering at Starbucks.

From Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career:

The energy saved from routines and rituals gives us more energy to make better decisions. Some companies, like Google, take this very seriously.

From Your Brain At Work:

Mark McGuinness argues that you should move your creative or mentally intensive work to the start of your day.

From Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind:

We also shouldn’t forget the importance of leisure. This, in addition to health benefits, makes us more creative.

From Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing:

Oh, and you should exercise.

From Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving At Work, Home, and School:

Some philosophers walked to think and others walked to escape. Kant combined walking and habit.

From A Philosophy of Walking:

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This piece originally appeared on Farnam Street.

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