Today I was approached by a student who did not use pomodoro technique. He practices too intensely, without breaks, more than 2 hours a day. As a result he suffered eye strain and could not read for a couple of months. Now he feels great, and he makes sure to follow the proposed methodology. His case is interesting because it raises several questions about practising wisely vs practising a lot.
It is well known that elite performers practice a lot. It does not have to be 10 000 hours, but it is a part of their daily routine for years. What makes this dedication possible?
In our Udemy course Jonathan explains the principle of “progressive overload”: we increase the complexity of training gradually pushing ourselves to ever greater goals. This principle works fine with all but the most dedicated students. Their dedication does not allow for the next important principle “relaxation”. If we do not leave enough time for relaxation, when our bodies and minds cure after stress, we are facing a very real danger of burnout. Burnout is a real thing. It feels very much like depression, lack of motivation and interest, weakness and moodiness. Unlike regular depression, you cannot help burnout by kudos from your friends, chocolate and wine. Your best strategy is confronting the source of your stress, and generating a more balanced lifestyle.
Every time we leave our comfort zone we experience stress. So every time you do a totally new exercise or learn a totally new skill you are fairy stressed. Every time you increase the difficulty of an exercise you get fairly stressed. If you learn many different things, you will not feel tired – if anything you will be excited, but your stress will build up. When going to a gym, our simplest option is to practice 3 times a week, however when superlearning, it is not that simple. Always try to remove the other sources of stress (see also this) from your life. This may be hard, but it will release a lot of energies you have invested elsewhere. Secondly, try healthier lifestyle – more open air activities, less junk food and coffee. This is even harder. There is a hidden bonus. If you succeed you will automatically become smarter and more productive! Then you can try simply monitor your stress level.
When learning, monitoring your stress is easy. If you feel tired and your performance drops, stop doing whatever you are doing and do it again tomorrow. There are so many various training methods and exercises on this site, that you should not feel stressed. You can always do visualization/relaxition if you get tired. If you switched your exercises 5 times, you can bet that your stress is mounting: stop training and do something else.
Occasionally we need to handle the stress and there is no way around it. There are some simple tips from US army. If you are rested, you will handle peak stress better. If you visualize the task before handing it- you will do better. Deep breath and relaxation visualization helps. Nobody is as strong alone as in the company of people with shared purpose.
Please use our discussion threads and social media presence actively. Do help others in similar situation. If you feel that your experience is unusual or extreme do contact me firstname.lastname@example.org. I want each of you to become an elite performer, so please DO PRACTICE WISELY.