Ultra learning: A challenge to learn multiple skills while working full-time

October 2019 is when I stumbled upon a book called Ultralearning by Scott Young. It had a foreword by James Clear whose book titled Atomic Habits I had just finished reading. You can see a theme here; I was trying to get myself to form good habits by establishing systems that work for me. I have always struggled with focus especially because I had one too many interests ranging from digital art, music, programming, photography and videography. I would start a project only before finding myself lost in another interest midway. This led to way too many drafts or incomplete work in Visual Studio Code, Logic Pro X, Final Cut Pro and Affinity Designer.

Ultralearning spoke about how the author managed to learn 4 different languages in a year and went from zero knowledge to completing the curriculum of MIT's Computer Science course in another year. I was intrigued and I wanted to give it a shot — finish one project that requires me to level-up from my current skill level. I wanted to experiment this with a guitar solo that I had been wanting to play and had never tried before. I started 2019 with a broken wrist that required surgical fixing with a titanium rod and six screws. I knew for a fact that wanting to play this solo would require me to unlearn the ways of the guitar that I already knew and rebuild skills incorporating constraints of limited movement. I structured my learning by breaking down the different phrases and techniques I would need to learn. I dedicated one hour for 20 days to practice by starting real slow. I paid conscious attention to every single note I played, recorded my playing and reheard it, identified mistakes, corrected them, and repeated the same steps as I increased the speed. The results at the end of 20 days was mind-blowing; a skill level that I considered impossible was all of a sudden within reach. I was able to play the solo fairly accurately in less than three weeks.

A challenge to self

As I mentioned, I have multiple interests. It does not feel fulfilling when I concentrate on one while leaving out the rest. But again, there is finite amount of time and pursuing all my interests at the same time might not be the most effective. So, I've decided to alternative between my interests for a period of 3 months. I'm going to be spending my spare time (I have a full-time job that puts the bread on my plate) looking to get better at the guitar and learn how to code a language that I've been wanting to for a while now. I spent the last few weeks researching different tutorials, collecting learning material, and creating an outline of a plan that I intend to follow.

I will be following the principles outlined in the book Ultralearning by trusting in them blindly. However, I will be reflecting and adapting my process that will help me make progress. I will be documenting my progress on guitar playing by posting videos of songs that I complete, and creating a code library that I plan on reusing at work. The intent of making this public is to hold myself accountable. And, y'all have a free-pass to shame me if I don't stick to my goals. 😀

🍻more to come...