In this post I’m going to use website construction as an example of how to apply the Tim Ferriss DiSSS framework for rapid learning. This post will not give a great deal of detail about the technical elements of building a website – for that I’d recommend codecademy. If you can’t bear the idea of reading about website construction, but really want to see DiSSS in action, I’ve also been through this process with my Jiu-Jitsu training here
So why am I suddenly talking about website construction? For good reasons: personal development and entrepreneurial reasons! I have a “muse” project which I am looking to develop and launch in 2013 (more on this in future posts). In order to execute it at a much lower cost, where I am able to do a lot of the work, I will need to learn web design and web development.
For n00bs (which I make no claim not to be), generally speaking, web design is the stuff which involves the aesthetics of a site, whereas development is all about the functionality. Depending on the scope of the project, there can be massive overlap between the two. Before we go any further, I’ll just clear up a few terms:
- HTML: The basic language in which all websites are written.
- CSS: Is used to style HTML so that it looks pretty.
So what? Well, I’m on a schedule. I want to get good at this web stuff, fast. And I’m hoping it’s starting to emerge that we at LLB take time-management damn seriously. In this post, I’m going to explain my plan for accelerating my learning, and where I’m up to right now. First the preamble:
My Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach recently interviewed Tim Ferriss, a man who we bang on about a lot here at LLB. Check out the full interview here (highly recommended). As SJ has discussed, in The Four Hour Chef, Ferriss talks about his system for rapid learning. In this fascinating guide he uses cooking a vehicle to explain his method for accelerating progress from average to “world-class” (top 5% of the relevant population) in six months. This approach led him to set a world record in Tango dancing, him winning the San Shou world championships, and deadlifting some 500 lbs (about 260kg). Key fundamentals are leveraging what you are already good at – Tim has a background in wrestling and break dancing, so for his Tango world record, he focused on moves which allowed him to capitalise on his ability to spin fast. For San Shou, he won by pushing his opponents out of the ring, using wrestling control techniques, and also rapid weight-loss (now a regular fixture among competitors, but 10 years ago very cutting edge).
So, what is this system? It’s DiSSS:
Deconstruction: Figure out the “components” of the skill you are trying to learn. Cooking is made up of a number of components: shopping (actually very important for finding the right ingredients), preparation, a range of cooking techniques (sautéing, baking, grilling etc.), hosting (potentially), and clean-up. It is important to be clear what the main components of a skill are, so that you are able to complete selection.
Selection: Apply the Pareto principle to the deconstructed components of the skill. Briefly, the Pareto principle states that 80% of your success/sales will come from 20% of your techniques/customers/efforts. You must identify what this 20% is, and then focus on it so you do not waste time on the lower-yield 80%.
Sequencing: Once you have identified which “components” will result in the greatest skill increase, you must then figure out the correct order in which to learn these components. Many times people learn great techniques, but are not able to execute them because their sequencing is off.
Stakes: Without stakes, you are setting yourself up to quit. Create a bitter pill to swallow if you quit. Make it humiliating for yourself, make it painful, make it something that makes you shake your head when you imagine it. The stick is mightier than the carrot.
So…how do we apply this to Web Construction?
I am going to go through this process for myself, step-by-step. You can do the same, simply replace Web Construction with a skill you want to acquire/improve, and replace my strengths/weaknesses with your own!
What are the main components of Web Construction?
Having deconstructed the components, I now need to select the components which I believe are going to offer me the greatest “return”. In order to do this I need to analyse my strengths and weaknesses.
- Enjoy problem solving
- Good instinct for form/function/utility balance
- Not a born “techie”
- Careless when faced with repetitive tasks
- Not good at “traditional” art
- Highly inexperienced
All that remains is the setup some stakes. I will be designing a dedicated website for LLB. If, on September 01, 2013, the other members of LLB do not think it is up to scratch, I will be donating one month’s rent to an anti-charity, i.e. an organisation I really don’t want to give my money. MM, as our most stringent personal finance junkie, will be keeping the money. I know that if I fail, there will be no bargaining with her.
This is the first the team at LLB have heard of this. Now they know.
And there we have it, DISSS applied – I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
Over to you.