The sweet spot: Why more effort is not always better
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
6d ago
I recently finished listening to Rich Roll’s memoir, Finding Ultra, on audiobook. Hearing about a guy who completed five Ironman triathlons in a single week is great motivation to not wuss out when you’re in the middle of a run. But while Roll’s story is undoubtedly inspiring, it got me thinking about a central question in my pursuit of building better foundations: how much is good enough? Fitness, like most foundations, has ample benefits. It makes you healthier, increases energy, boosts cognition and helps you live longer. Yet it seems our brains didn’t evolve to make us like to exercise, so ..read more
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The Twelve Foundations for a Good Life
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
2w ago
Last week, I discussed the importance of foundations, the essentials in life we all need, simply by virtue of being human. I also hinted at my upcoming project. I am taking a year to strengthen my own foundations, while working with a group of people who want to do the same.  One year is twelve months. So, if you spend a month focusing on building each foundation (plus doing maintenance the rest of the year to ensure it is stable), there is enough time to focus on twelve different foundations. With this project in mind, here is the list of foundations I plan to cover, as well as the keyst ..read more
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The Universal Foundations for a Good Life
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
3w ago
I’ve been thinking a lot about foundations lately. So much of modern life relies on specialization. You become an accountant, programmer or doctor. You choose to ski, paint or play basketball for fun. You’re a fan of Jane Austin, Frank Herbert or Stephen King. We all make our choices based on our unique tastes, interests and personality. But there’s a core in life that is relatively universal. Things we all need to do simply because we are human beings. Consider exercise. Outside of a few medical exceptions, we all should be exercising, at least a bit. Exercise is good for keeping strong, of c ..read more
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You’re Trying to Do Too Much
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
1M ago
We tend to add things, even when subtracting is both logically equivalent and more practically useful. We want to get in shape, so we add exercise to our schedule. We want to succeed at a project at work, so we add it to our to-do list. We want to learn more, so we stack up more books. What’s missing is that, given our finite time, every addition necessarily implies an equal subtraction. The thirty minutes you spend on exercise must, logically speaking, be subtracted from something else. The to-do list items you add must squeeze out other work. The books you queue up must push down the ones be ..read more
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The Most Overlooked Way to Be More Productive
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
1M ago
In ordinary usage the word “productivity” is virtually synonymous with “working hard.” The person who says, “I was really productive today” means that she worked hard and checked off a lot of tasks. It’s interesting, then, that this is not how economists who study productivity think about the term. In some ways, the economic concept of productivity is the opposite of how we typically think of productivity! The people who work the hardest are often those whose productivity stats are abysmal. Productivity, as economists define it, is a measure of outputs divided by inputs. Labor productivity is ..read more
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The Science of Learning Movement Skills
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
1M ago
One of my ongoing projects is to learn more about how research in learning is applied within specific fields. You can read my review of books summarizing the literature on language learning here and learning physics here. To that end, I read Motor Learning and Performance, written by the eminent researchers Richard Schmidt and Craig Wrisberg. This textbook is wide-ranging and full of interesting tidbits that don’t fit neatly into the overarching theory the authors propose. (For instance, did you know that movement accuracy tends to get worse as we move faster—except this trend reverses when mu ..read more
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Talking About Getting Better
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
2M ago
One of the fun things about writing a book is that you get a chance to talk about it in a lot of different venues. I had a lot of fun chatting with people to promote Ultralearning, and my new book, Get Better at Anything, has been no different. I wanted to share some of those discussions today. (Also check out the guest essay I wrote for Nir Eyal’s website on the research behind overcoming anxiety.) The Talent Equation – A longer conversation, with a focus on athletic skills. In particular, we go deep on the Tiger Wood’s story from the book, with contrasting interpretations of what’s inv ..read more
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The 7 Reasons You Stop Improving (and How to Keep Getting Better)
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
2M ago
My new book, Get Better at Anything, came out two weeks ago. Thanks again to everyone who has bought it so far! For those of you who have already dived headfirst into the book, I would greatly appreciate a review on Amazon—reviews make a big difference in helping new people discover the book. The central idea of my new book is that three factors determine how quickly we can learn: seeing examples from others, doing practice ourselves, and getting feedback on our work. These ingredients may seem simple, but getting them right is often tricky. Based on the research I explain in my new book, this ..read more
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Ultralearning or Get Better at Anything: Which Book is Better?
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
2M ago
When I decided to write another book about learning, I knew an obvious question would come up: How is this book different from your last one? The truth is, I could write a dozen books on learning. Even when working on this one, I realized how many areas I couldn’t explore sufficiently: mental models, connectionism, background knowledge, declarative versus procedural learning, motor learning, nootropics, intelligence, explore-exploit tradeoffs, aging and more. Each topic could be its own book! I took care not to repeat too much from my previous book when writing this one. Some repetition is un ..read more
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Get Better at Anything is Now Available
Scott H. Young Blog
by Scott Young
2M ago
My new book, Get Better at Anything: 12 Maxims for Mastery, is now available! Buy now: AMAZON APPLE BOOKS BARNES & NOBLE BOOKS-A-MILLION BOOKSHOP GOOGLE PLAY HARPERCOLLINS KOBO INDIGO AUDIBLE Life depends on learning. We spend decades in school, acquiring an education. We want to be good at our jobs, not just for the perks that come with being one of the best, but for the pride of mastering a craft. Even things we do for fun, we enjoy to a large extent because we feel capable of getting better at them. Yet learning is often mysterious.  Sometimes we improve effortlessly—in other ca ..read more
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