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How Much Faster Can You Learn?

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Say you were to optimize everything you possibly could for a particular learning goal. You used the best time-management system, you picked exactly the right tasks that would drive learning improvement, you applied tremendous motivation and effort. How much faster could you learn something than the status quo would expect? The answer, of course, will be: it depends. But that's rather unsatisfying, if true, because the crucial question is: what does it depend on? Asking how much improvement over the status quo or expected rate of progress is an interesting question in many domains. In some areas, there might be reasons to suggest you could learn something much faster, maybe two or three times as fast. In others, you may not be able to beat expectations much at all, and in others you might actually do worse. In this article, I'd like to go over what I think some of those conditions are, so you can plan your own expectations. Competitive pressures define many areas of life. The type of competition you face can give a good picture of whether it makes sense to be optimistic or pessimistic about your odds of success. Many activities for learning are actually fairly lousy compared to a well-known alternative.


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