My questions | week 7 | Part 3


So, I’m taking a weeks break from my coach.  He has been contacting me and recording my answers for most days over seven weeks.  It has been quite an interesting little experiment.  I have been completely undecided if I should continue or not.  Then I took a look at another of Marshall’s videos.

He basically said “Most people give up, not because it doesn’t work (because it does) but because it is so hard”.  I think this has struck me: it is really really hard to change; often it is just hard to do what you really should.  There are a lot of reasons behind this. So, on the basis of this I will (probably) continue with my coach.

To back up a little.

I revamped the questions again a while back, got them down to 17.  I got two in there about planning (work and home) two in there about reviews (work and home) and one in there about writing and one about deep work.  These are some of the significant areas I want to improve in.

1. Planning.  The basic idea is this: if you don’t commit your time ahead of time, then something else will sneak up and claim it.  But sometimes the work is tough, and there are other things you really WANT to do, so you fudge your planning, and fool yourself about the real benefit (and effect) of what you are doing.  The capacity of the human mind for self-deception is huge.  I also drift sometimes; then to do all I need to do, I have to work late.

I’ve got a planning question (work and home) and a review question (work and home).  Statistically this has helped.  Plan/review habits done seems to lead to other positives.  Morning routines or meditation/prayer, exercise and journal seem to be strongly influential as well.

2. Deep work.  This is a topic in itself.

To back up just a little more.  Defining deep work, from Cal Newport’s blog:

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep—spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.

Once the planning is done, this is the core challenge.  THE core challenge.  Once I’ve sorted out the planning, the priorities.  Once I have filled in the day with some planned work – then to actually do it.  Not the shallow busy stuff, and not the nice distractions (‘well, a little more research on this will help next week’s class go a little better”).

I’ve got a question in there now about how many hours of deep work I’ve got done.  I’m improving in this metric.  Very little, but improving.

3. Writing.  This question has helped also.  Enormously.  I’ve actually done significantly more writing in the past few weeks than I usually do. Huge, huge variations on a day to day basis, but the trend is up.  I’ve got my topics more sorted, my routine of where I store my files,and in one sense this is related to the Deep work question.  Much of what I need to be working on is writing, planning for various classes and working with my students.

My questions (in their fourth iteration) now has a question about writing, and like the deep work, getting the planning sorted seems to have helped.

Sadly: 100% fail

One question remains with a perfect 100% failure rate.  I’m going to deal with this somehow, I’m not sure exactly how yet.  This may be a pot hole I need some help to get out of.

My own students

I have some tutors in my Adult Education class (about 27) and some high school students.  It’s been interesting working with these wonderful people.  I’ve now sorted out my approach to work, motivation and focus as I’d like my students to engage. I’ve had my first two “How to be insanely awesome as a student” workshops.

Four case studies:

  • Student A: refused to come.  (Sent a parent instead)
  • Student B: came, but has decided not to give up after three weeks, but may have decided to re-engage.
  • Student C and D: basically, they are doing what I suggested.

Its student B I’m interested in.  Without a coach (ie me) on the side, this person may have just stopped.

So next weekend, I probably will formulate a mark five set of questions and pick up and start again.





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