deliberate practice and friends

(I gotta work on the titles. People will think this is about being intentional about building relationships. Ah well.)

Yesterday I described my morning hour. I had several comments (okay, four  can be several). I didn’t get to them. So this morning my list included “replying to comments.”

Understand that I wasn’t making a to do list for my day. I was making a list of the activities for this first hour of the day, how I want to use this hour.


Because I’m working on improving my ability to use an hour.

This is different than time management which is about using hours. This is more an exercise in attention management: can I work on my ability to take a particular unit of time and identify what I want to accomplish in it and then accomplish it?

And my topic of  this exercise is deliberate practice. Can I spend time to learn about how to use time. And, rather than making the activity be something random, what if I made the focus of the activity something related to the very thing I’m doing?

So I had a list yesterday for my hour. I worked on it. The work involved putting a post where you could see it. And then I got feedback.

Tim pointed out the refinement part:

To take a parallel example: it’s not about going to the driving range and hitting 100 balls off the tee. It’s about hitting them in certain *ways*, so that they do what you want them to do, and so that you’re *better* at getting them to do what you want them to do than you were yesterday.

Heather pointed out that choice to do leaves out something:

It’s not merely the routine, but fine tuning the elements of that routine. Choosing not just what you will do, but what you will not do

Hannah raises the poignant uncertainty that plagues all our efforts to be more effective:

I’ve got 40 days to fine tune this practice. I wonder what I’ll do after.

And my dear brother Rob made me write today’s post:

When I look at the description, I am struck by “activity specifically designed to improve performance” and the idea of repetition of that specifically designed activity.

I am wondering Jon about the coaching. I am wondering about the feedback. Feedback seems very dependent upon measurable results. The specificity of design is based on achieving specific performance results.

I am starting to wonder how well the accepted definition of Deliberate practice fits with your work. I am starting to think about whether there is a difference between deliberate practice and being deliberate about one’s use of time.

I’m still trying to figure out how these ideas apply to my work of spiritual formation. (I’ll get to that sometime soon). But as I indicated earlier, I think that the answer to Rob’s question is that you can deliberately practice ways to use time. And can take an hour of that time and work on what you do with it.

I have to pick only an hour a day to work on the skill because there are interruptions in much of the rest of the day. I don’t get to choose who will come to see me, nor do I want to. What I want to do is to build my ability to keep my head in a task when that option is available.

That comes naturally to many people. It doesn’t to me.

And yet I am increasingly aware that I can improve my overall effectiveness helping people understand by working on one of the weakest points in my area of strength.

I have a calling to make the most of the time.  I’m working on it.

And in the last two days, you, my coaches, have helped. By helping me see where I was clear, by extending the definitions, by pushing me to clarify and understand more, I got the feedback that helped me refine my thinking this morning.

But time’s up. I gotta go.

Thanks for the feedback and questions. Please keep helping.


and from Tim Walker:   DP in a nutshell


3 responses to “deliberate practice and friends

  1. Excellent thoughts, Jon. I do take slight issue with limiting yourself to an hour a day.

    What I mean:

    –There may be only an hour a day in which you can wall yourself off to do this kind of super-focused use-of-time practice.

    –But the rest of your day is ALSO an opportunity to practice your use of time. You just have to do it under “game conditions,” rather than under controlled practice conditions.

    In other words, your sacrosanct hour per day is like an hour spent shooting baskets in an empty gym. The rest of your day is like full team practices, scrimmages, actual games.


  2. okay. I’ve started replying with three different sentences. But I have to
    run. (which illustrates the point!)

    So yes, there will absolutely be carry over. Already was in my thinking
    during my shower. .

    But there is something slightly different that I have to figure out how to

    So I’ll have an answer to that part tomorrow, I think.

    Thank you for the immediate feedback and pushback. It’s the point!

  3. Jon,
    I am struck by the phrase “attention management.” We live in a distracted age and attention is scarce. Externally and internally.

    I think we need times of focus and even silence (gasp!). The practice of managing our attention, even an hour, will help when we are in the noise.

    Interested to follow this conversation…