The Hardest Part About Self-Teaching Data Science (or Anything Else)

by | Dec 24, 2018 | Self-Teaching

Here’s something we can all relate to:

How do you focus when self-teaching programming?

Self-teaching is hard, mainly because you don’t have structure, which is key no matter what you’re learning. Structure cultivates resolve, prevents distractions, and, most importantly, creates results.

While reading Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, what fascinated me most about the many artists Mason Currey wrote about was the structure and discipline they all had.

In many cases, success is rooted in the process, not the outcome. Currey writes:

“By writing out the admittedly mundane details of my subjects’ daily lives — when they slept and ate and worked and worried — I hoped to provide a novel angle on their personalities and careers, to sketch entertaining, small-bore portraits of the arts of a creature of habit.”

Three artists stood out in Currey’s book:

  • Truman Capote wrote for four hours during the day then revisited his work at night. He also managed to type while in bed by balancing the typewriter on his knees.
  • Ernest Hemingway woke up at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning even if he’d been out late drinking the night before and also tracked his daily word counts on a chart. Whenever he caught a case of writer’s block, he switched gears to answering letters.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven rose at dawn and started working immediately after having his coffee (which needed to have 60 hand-counted beans per cup). He then wrote until two or three in the afternoon, when he would take a break to walk outside.

Need inspiration to become the next Capote, Hemingway, or Beethoven? Further reading below.

The Week’s Top Five

Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice From the Best in the World by Tim Ferris (Book)

In this book, Ferris curates techniques used by many of the world’s top performers, such as comedian Jimmy Fallon, author Steven Pressfield, and powerlifter Mark Bell. While there are a number of key points to take away, the three that resonated with me the most are: 1. Don’t follow advice because it’s trendy. 2. Books are an important source of inspiration. 3. When dealing with endless work and to-do’s, focus on yourself.

“A Day Without Distraction: Lessons Learned From 12 Hours of Forced Focus” (Text)

When it comes to being focused, batch processing your work does wonders for your productivity. And when you apply that tactic to forced focus, things can get really interesting.

“How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science)” (Text)

Does it really take 21 days to form a habit? James Clear highlights psychology research that discovered it takes people on average 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic. The good news is that Clear says we shouldn’t be disheartened by the longer timeline since developing a habit is a process, not an event. Clear also stipulates that we need to “commit to the system.”

“6 Best Practices for Working From Home” (Text)

Working in a home office poses interesting challenges. In this Entrepreneur article, Jacqueline Whitmore details six tips for overcoming those obstacles. (My favorites are numbers one and three.)

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Video)

Angela Duckworth is known for leaving a high-paying consulting job to teach and then pursue a PhD in psychology where she studied success. In the course of her research, she found that success was not rooted in social intelligence, looks, physical health, or even IQ. Instead, her research showed that success is rooted in grit, or the passion and perseverance to work toward very long-term goals.

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