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Day 10, SuperMemo Ultramarathon – Sharpen your Skills

April 23, 2010

Day 10, was another success, I’m feeling in the flow now and also looking forward to the finish line. 604 repetitions where completed in a double schedule. Only four more days to go and definitively take a break (meaning I’ll do 200 reps for 2 or 3 days), then I’ll go to some knew challenge.

RMD wondered how does one keep up to date within the professional level in information related careers.

IMO people keep current within their field just by undertaking the task they are required in the present moment, for the most part, they also usually go and take certifications, courses and congress. Albeit huge amount of the information acquire trough this methods are lost in less then 1 week. At least in the medical field there is a lot of interest by the pharmaceutical companies to keep practitioners up to date with the latest drugs and treatments available, its you own duty to find out the validity of them, but you’ll have to do more research whenever you have any doubts.

As a physician the most common practice is to search for more information related to the many cases you have at work. For example, you have some patient with complaints that are not clear enough to make an accurate diagnosis from the beginning so you go to  information resource to study more or ask some specialist about this particular problem. After you get to solve the case, you usually review it again all together, but that’s about it, unless you do remember having this previous case, and you have filed in an organized manner (but that’s not the most frequent scenario). We should not only file the case and its related, previously unknown information, but it should go trough some sort of incremental processing, in a sense of building up an expertise by deliberate practice.

Every one should build up his skills progressively, else we’ll find ourselves like the person in Stephen Covey’s ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” , who is working long and hard to cut down a tree, sweated and worn out from the effort, yet, when suggested to take a break and sharpen the saw he replies ‘Goodness I don’t have time to sharpen the saw, I’m far too busy sawing!’ and carries on sawing away with the blunt blade. Sadly even in information related careers, that’s how many of us are still living. Stephen Covey refers to this aspect of self-help as “sharpening the saw”.

This idea  to adapt an IR and review of previously acquired information, whatever your career, is very interesting; but most of the time an idea, however important, can get dusted of somewhere if no goal  and strategy is put forward in order to actually do it. So I’ll be taking this idea, during my next career training, and after a couple of years (sadly more then 1000 days) I’ll tell if its something good or not needed at all.

This approach should be different in every area, some areas require constant review, because knew knowledge builds ups so fast these days, yet principles are principles, and every field has its own principles. So we should focus on IR or active spaced repetition only on these kind of information. I’ve previously posted ideas on how to choose what to included in a space repetition system and these are valid for life long career related learning to.

It would be nice if you guys share how you keep up to date?, what other strategies could we all use?.

Reminder for today:

Believe the impossible

“The greatest achievements in sports and life were performed by individuals who were to dumb to realize that what they did was impossible.”

Time to start today’s ultra, see ya!

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