Practice Frees Your Mind
A great essay in the Wall Street Journal by Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like A Champion and the new book Practice Perfect:
“No one disputes that practice is the way to prepare for a cello concerto or a tennis match—complex, physically challenging activities that have to be executed without a coach’s immediate direction or the chance for a do-over.
But these activities are not unique. Thousands of other tasks that are done ‘live’—from delivering employee performance reviews to examining a patient, from hearing a customer complaint to reacting to a student’s question—would benefit from practice beforehand. The problem is that we seldom think of these other kinds of work as the sort of things that can be improved by routine and repetition.
Why is practice so helpful for complex, nonrote tasks? One reason is that the capacity of our brains is finite. You might be able to chew gum and cross the street at the same time, but you probably can’t cross the street, solve a math puzzle and answer your child’s question about why the sky is blue.
Practice lets us execute a task while using less and less active brain processing. It makes things automatic. When performers master one aspect of their work, they free their minds to think about another aspect.” (Read more here.)
Are there aspects of your work that would benefit from practice? I know that the more I practice a speech, for example, the more brain space I’ll have available for connecting with the audience, gauging their reactions, and so on—rather than just thinking about which words come next.