I just finished Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers. I always like reading Gladwell's books, but mainly as entertainment. It's that sort of smart writing that makes you feel like you're learning something important, even though the main purpose of the book is for entertainment.
Still, with any book I read I generally try to come up with some immediate actions I can implement from it to improve myself or my life. Outliers had a couple good ones that I'll share with you.
Small Scale Persistence is IMPORTANT
Gladwell talks about persistence, not in the long-term sense of persevering, but rather on every day small tasks.
Asian kids tend to be better at math for a lot of reasons, one of which is that because of their cultures they tend to persist in figuring out the answers. One study showed that Japanese kids would spend 40% more time trying to figure out a really difficult math problem than American kids would.
I'm going to cultivate the habit of persisting on small things. An example from my life is when I'm doing my Kanji flashcards I sometimes come across a hard one and just flip it, thinking "I'll just relearn it and try again". Instead I'm going to try spending more time trying to wrack my brain and figure them out.
This isn't necessarily being done because I think it will help me learn Kanji faster or better, although it might, but rather because the habit will serve me well next time I come across a difficult but solvable problem that I may otherwise give up on.
Time Spent Matters MOST
Most may be a strong word, because there are so very many factors to consider, but the book really drilled home how important time spent is. Gladwell goes through a ton of examples ranging from the Beatles to Bill Gates, showing that their success was basically due to opportunity and time spent.
I've found that most of my opportunities SPRING from spending time on something, so for me the lesson is to spend TONS of time on things that are meaningful to me and important.
An example from my life for that one is that right now I'm writing content for the new Life Nomadic site. I made a schedule for myself on when things needed to be done by and was going to stick to that.
Now I'm going to get at done as fast as possible and spend more time writing additional things, editing, or working on inevitable sub-projects that will spring up.
I'm even thinking about reevaluating waking up early and blocking off time to do projects. Two hours to study japanese, four to write for LN, etc.
There's a lot going on in the book, so it's very likely that you'll get different things out of it than I did. Check it out!
A similar book I'd strongly recommend is So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport. You're right, of course, success is all about how well your "time [is] spent."
Motivating me as always, thanks Tynan. I'm not sure if you've read this on my site before (or if I even wrote it on my site) but I recommend using DarkRoom blocked off writing. I switched to WriteRoom since I've had my Mac, but they're the same thing.
Anyway, it's a full screen program that allows you to write in a distraction free setting. Friday I wake up 4am, and by 6:30am I had finished 4 articles. That's because I wasn't going on TweetDeck, E-mail, or browsing on a tangent.
I've read a couple of Gladwell's other books, I guess I've become somewhat of a fan, so I'll pick this one up as well. He's one of those writers that I pick up the book, and read it front to back in one sitting.
P.S. Your interview will be up in several hours on my site (and on iTunes).
My suggestion for you is to read book called 4 hour workweek by tim ferris. How to get most done in shortest period.
Jim - I did the 90 days in a row of Pimsleur tapes, and then practiced in Japan. A month ago I started learning Kanji. I have skipped learning a few days to do review instead, but I have also done a lot more on some days so I'm ahead of where I should be by 250 kanji or so.
1325 down, 675 left.
ah, so you're keeping up your Japanese, good to hear it! Did you seriously keep it going all the time, even with so many other things to do? How's the progress?
Funny. I recently posted a review of Outliers on my blog. Take a look: http://www.bleicke.com/learning-and-skill/outliers-the-story-of-success-book-review/
btw good decision on Life Nomadic! It's by far your most interesting site. I was quite disappointed when you suddenly announced you were back in America. I met up with Digital Backpacker and it was really interesting! Would've been fun to hang out with you guys too.
Yesterday was Christmas. I spent it in New Jersey with my parents, sister, aunt, uncle, and three of my cousins. We played board games (Scattergories!), ate Christmas dinner together, and I "helped" my cousins play with their new toys they got for Christmas.
And then, in between those events, I did two hours of Japanese practice and also spent time writing content for Life Nomadic.
I have a lot of good habits as well as a lot of bad habits, but one of my best is that I treat every day equally.
OK, so today I will be learning about Furigana, the practice of applying Hiragana to the side or the top of Kanji. This is a practice I found out about while reading Teach Yourself Read and Write Japanese Scripts. It is a remarkable book. It not only teaches you Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana but tells you why they came about, how the symbols have evolved over the years and even the importance of stroke order and why it is done that way.
Furigana is usually an aid for kids or Japanese learners, but you will see it from time to time in mature reading material as well for Kanji which is hard to pronounce. Japanese people write both horizontally (yokogaki) and vertically (tategaki). When written in Yokogaki style the Furigana is placed on top of the Kanji, whilst when writing in Tategaki style it will be to the right of the Kanji.
As you can see Furigana can be very useful in trying to remember or pronounce the Kanji. The top character in the Tategaki 漢 (or left in the Yokogaki) has かん (ka and n) to the right of it and the bottom character 字 has the voiced consonant じ Ji (shi without the voiced quotes " ). Making Kan and Ji or Kanji. Many beginners materials will include lots of Furigana and are very helpful. Look out for them next time you pick up a Kanji learning book.
They are also useful to know whether the writer intends the Kanji to have an on reading or a kun reading.