An In-depth Review of Coursera’s Learning How to Learn Course

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Flying?

Invisibility?

Super strength?

When I was younger my answer was always ‘I’d have the superpower to use any superpower.’ The equivalent of wishing for more wishes when a genie appears.

Now if you asked me again, I’d tweak my answer.

‘I’d have the superpower to learn anything.’

Similar but not as much of a cop-out.

But why bother having to learn something if you had the choice for any superpower, why not go straight to knowing everything?

Because learning is the fun part. Knowing everything already would be a boring life. Have you ever seen how a 4-year-old walks into a park? Now compare that to a 40-year-old.

If you can learn how to learn, you can apply it to any other skill. Want to learn programming? Apply your ability to learn. Want to learn Chinese? Apply your ability to learn.

To improve my ability to learn, I went through the Learning How to Learn Course on Coursera. It’s one of the most popular online courses of all time. And I can see why.

It’s taught in a simple and easy to understand manner. The concepts are applicable immediately. Even throughout the course, as you learn something in part 1, it resurfaces in part 2, 3 and 4, reinforcing the new information.

If you’ve seen the course before and are thinking about signing up, close this article and do it now, it’s worth it.

Otherwise, keep reading for a non-exhaustive list of some of my favourite takeaways.



Part 1 — What is learning?

Focused and Diffused thinking

How do you answer such a question? What is learning?

The course breaks it down with the combination of two kinds of thinking, focused and diffused.

Focused thinking involves working on a singular task. For example, reading this post. You’re devoting concentration to figuring out what the words on the screen mean.

Diffused thinking happens when you’re not focused on anything. You’ve probably experienced this on a walk through nature or when you’re laying in bed about to go to sleep. No thoughts but at the same time, all of the thoughts.

Learning happens at the crossover of these two kinds of thinking.

You do focus on something intently for a period of time and then take a break and let your thoughts diffuse.

If thinking was a flashlight, focused thinking would be a small beam of intense light and diffused thinking would be a wider beam of less intense light.

If thinking was a flashlight, focused thinking would be a small beam of intense light and diffused thinking would be a wider beam of less intense light.


How often have you been stuck on a problem and then thought of answer in the shower?

This is an example of the two kinds of thinking at work. It doesn’t always happen consciously either.

Have you ever not known what step to take next on an assignment, left it overnight, come back and saw the solution immediately?

If you want to learn something, it’s important to take advantage of the two kinds of thinking. Combine intense periods of focus with intense periods of nothing.

After studying, take a walk, have a nap or sit around and do nothing. And don’t feel bad for it. You’re giving yourself the best opportunity to let the diffused mind do its thing.



Procrastination and how to combat it

You’re working a problem. You reach a difficult point. It’s uncomfortable to keep going so you start to feel unhappy. To fix this feeling, you seek something pleasurable. You open another tab, Facebook. You see the red notifications and click them. It feels good to have someone connecting with you. You see Sarah has invited you to her birthday. You look at the invites list, Gary is there. Gary is there. You’re not the biggest fan of Gary. Back in middle school he was a prick. ‘Hey bro!’ he’d yell as he smacked you on the back. Hard. A bit more scrolling. Some advertisement for new shoes. The same ones you saw yesterday. They look real nice, black with orange. ‘I’m going to order them,’ you think.

You look down at your notes. You forget where you were up to.

What the hell just happened?

You were working on a problem. And you reached a difficult point. It was uncomfortable and you started to feel unhappy. You sought out something pleasurable. It worked. But only temporarily. Now you’re back to where you were and you’re even more upset at the fact you got distracted.

So how do you fix it?

The course suggests to use the Pomodoro technique. I can vouch for this one.

It’s simple.

You set a timer and do nothing except what you wanted to work on for the duration. Even if it gets difficult, you keep working on it until the timer is done.

A typical Pomodoro timer is 25-minutes with a 5-minute break afterwards. During the break you can do whatever you want before starting another 25-minute session.

But you can use any combination of working/break time.

For example, to complete this course, I used 1-hour Pomodoro timers with a 15-30 minute break in between.

  • 1-hour studying.

  • 15-minute break.

  • 1-hour studying.

  • 15-minute break.

  • 1-hour studying.

  • 30-minute break.

  • 1-hour studying.

If 25-minutes is too long, start with 10 and make your way up.

Why is doing this valuable?

Because you can’t control whether or not you solve every problem which arises before the end of a days work.

But you can control how much time and effort you put in.

Can control: 4-hours of focused work in a day.

Can’t control: solving every assignment question in a day.



Sleep your way to better learning

We’ve talked about focused and diffused thinking. Sleep is perhaps the best way to engage unconscious diffused thinking.

Being in focused mode is to brain cells what lifting weights is to muscles. You’re breaking them down.

Sleep provides an opportunity for them to repaired and for new connections to be formed.

Dr. Terrence Sejnowski talks about how new synapses (connections) are formed on the dendrites during sleep.

Dr. Terrence Sejnowski talks about how new synapses (connections) are formed on the dendrites during sleep.

There’s a reason famous thinkers like Einstein and Salvatore Dali would sleep for 10-hours at a time and tap multiple naps a day.

They knew it was vital for their brain to clear out toxins built up during the day which prevented engaging the focused mind.

The next time you feel like pulling an all-nighter and studying, you’d probably be better off getting a good night sleep and resuming the next day.



Spaced repetition, a little every day

Jerry Seinfeld writes jokes every day. He has a calendar on his wall and every day he writes jokes, he marks an X on it. Because he writes them every day if you looked the calendar you’d see a chain of X’s.

Once the chain has started, all he has to do is keep it going.

‘Don’t break the chain.’

This technique is not only good for writing jokes. It can be used for learning too.

In the Learning How to Learn Course, they refer to a similar concept called spaced repetition.

Spaced repetition involves practicing something in small timeframes and as you get better at it, increasing the amount of time between each timeframe.

For example, when starting to learn Chinese, you might practice a single word every day for a week until you’re good at it. Then after the first week, you practice it twice a week. Then twice a month. Then once every two months. Eventually, it will be cemented in your mind.

The best learning happens when you combine these two concepts. Don’t break the chain by practicing a little every day and incorporate spaced repetition by going over the difficult stuff more often.

To begin with, you could set yourself a goal of one Pomodoro a day on a given topic. After a week, you would’ve spent 3-hours on it. And after a year, you’ll have amassed over 150-hours. Not bad for only 25-minutes per day.

Bonus: A great tool for spaced repetition is the flash card software Anki and for not breaking the chain, I recommend the Don’t Break the Chain poster from the writers store.



Part 2 — Chunking

Part 2 of the course introduces chunking. Multiple neurons firing together are considered a chunk. And chunking is the process of calling upon these regions in a way which they work together.

Why is this helpful?

Because when multiple chunks of neurons fire together, the brain can work more efficiently.

How do you form a chunk?

A chunk is formed by first grasping an understanding of a major concept and then figuring out where to use it.

For example, if you were starting to learn programming, it would be unwise to try and learn an entire language off by heart. Instead, you might start with a single concept, let’s say loops. You don’t need to understand the language inside and out to know where to use loops. Instead, when you come across a problem which requires a loop, you can call upon the loops chunk in your brain and fill in the other pieces of the puzzle as you need.



Deliberate practice: do the hard thing

Forming a chunk is hard. First of all, what are the important concepts to learn? Second, where should you apply them?

This is exactly why you should spend time and effort trying to create them. Instead of learning every intricate detail, seek out what the major concepts are. Figure out how to apply them by testing yourself. Work through example problems.

The process of doing the hard thing is called deliberate practice. Spending more time on the things you find more difficult is how an average mind becomes a great mind.



Einstellung — don’t be held back by old thoughts

Dr. Barbara Oakley introduces Einstellung as a German word for mindset.

But the meaning is deeper than a single word translation.

Every year you upgrade your smartphone’s software. A whole set of new features arrive along with several performance improvements.

When was the last time your way of thinking had a software upgrade?

Einstellung’s deeper meaning describes an older way of thinking holding back a newer, better way of thinking.

The danger of becoming an expert in something is losing the ability to think like an amateur. You get so good at the way that’s always worked, you become blind to the new.

If you’re learning something new, especially if it’s the first time in a while, it’s important to be mindful of Einstellung. Have an open mind and don’t be afraid of asking the stupid questions. After all, the only stupid question is the one that doesn’t get asked.



Recall — what did you just learn?

Out of what you’ve read so far, what has stood out the most?

Don’t scroll back up. Put the article down and think for a second.

How would you describe it to someone else?

It doesn’t have to be perfect, do it in your own words.

Doing this is called recall. Bringing the information you’ve just learned back to your mind without looking back at it.

You can do it with any topic. Reading a book? When you’re finished, put it down and describe your favourite parts in a few sentences.

Finished an online course? Write an article about your favourite topics without going back through the course. Sound familiar?

Practicing recall is valuable because it avoids the illusion of competence. Rereading the same thing over and over again can give you an illusion of understanding it. But recalling it and reproducing the information in your own words is a way to figure out which parts you know and which parts you don’t.



Part 3 — Procrastination & Memory

The Habit Zombie

How hard do you have to think about making coffee in the morning at your house?

No very much. So little, your half asleep zombie mode body can fumble around in the kitchen with boiling water and still manage to not get burned.

How?

Because you’ve done it enough it’s become a habit. It’s the same with getting dressed or brushing your teeth. These things you can do on autopilot.

Where do habits come into to learning?

The thing about habits is that almost anything can be turned into a habit. Including procrastination.

Above we talked about combating procrastination with a timer. But how do you approach from a habit standpoint?

Part 3 of the Learning How to Learn course breaks habits into four parts.

  1. The cue — an event which triggers the next three steps. We’ll use the example of your phone going off.

  2. The routine — what happens when you’re triggered by the cue. In the phone example, you check your phone.

  3. The reward — the good feeling you get for following the routine. Checking your phone, you see the message from a friend, this feels good.

  4. The belief — the thoughts which reinforce the habit. You realise you checked your phone, now you think to yourself, ‘I’m a person who easily gets distracted.’

How could you fix this?

You only have to remove one of the four steps for the rest to crumble.

Can you figure out what it is?

The cue.

What would happen if your phone was in another room? Or turned off?

The cue would never happen, neither would the subsequent steps.

The technique of removing the cue doesn’t only work for procrastination. It can work for other habits too. It also works in reverse. If you want to create a good habit. Consider the four steps.

To make a good habit, create a cue, make a routine around it, give yourself a reward if you follow through and you’ll start forming a belief about you being the type of person who has the good habit.



The dictionary isn’t the only place product comes after process

Thinking about the outcome of your learning is the quickest way to get discouraged about it.

Why?

Because there is no end. Learning is a lifelong journey.

No one in history has ever said, ‘I’ve learned enough.’

And if they have, they were lying.

I’ve been speaking English since I was young. Even after 25-years of speech, I still make mistakes, daily. But would getting upset at where my level of English is at be helpful? No.

What could I do?

I could accept that knowing everything about speech and the English language is impossible. And instead, focus on the process of speaking.

This principle can be related to anything you’re trying to learn or create.

If you want to get better at writing, the end product could be a bestselling book. But if I told you to go and write a bestselling book, what would you write?

Worrying about what a bestselling book would have in it would consume you. It’s far more useful to focus on the process, to write something every day.



Free up your working memory and set a task list the night before

Dr. Oakley says we’ve got space for about four things in working memory. But if you’re like me, it’s probably closer to one.

Some of the people I work with have three monitors with things happening on all of them, I’m not sure how they do it. I stick to one and push it to two when a task requires it.

If I had a third monitor it would be the A5 notepad I carry around everywhere. It’s my personal assistant. Every morning, I write down a list of half a dozen or so things I want to get done during the day. Sometimes I write the same list on the whiteboard in my room to really clear out my brain.

Even when I’m in the middle of a focused session, 12 minutes into a Pomodoro, things still come out of no where. Rather than stop the Pomodoro, the thought gets trapped on the paper. Working memory free'd up.

The course recommends creating a list of things the night before but I’m fan of first thing in the morning as well. Putting things down means they’re out of your head and you can devote all of your brain to power to focused thinking rather than worrying about what it was you had to do later.

Don’t forget to add a finishing time. The time of day you’ll call it quits.

Why?

Because having a cutoff time means you’ve got a set timeframe to complete the tasks in. A set timeframe creates another reason to avoid procrastination.

And having a cutoff time for focused work means you’ll be giving your brain time to switch to diffused thinking. Who knows. That problem you couldn’t solve at 4:37 may solve itself whilst you’re in the shower at 8:13.

You’ve only got a limited number of slots in your working memory. If using a task list helps to free up one of the slots, it’s worth it.

You’ve only got a limited number of slots in your working memory. If using a task list helps to free up one of the slots, it’s worth it.

Part 4 — Renaissance learning & unlocking your potential

Learning doesn’t happen in a straight line

You could study all weekend and go back to work on Monday and no one would know.

You could work on a problem all week and by the end of the week feel like you’re worse off than you started.

Dr. Sejnowski knows this. And emphasises learning doesn’t happen linearly.

Learning tough skills doesn’t happen over the course of days or weeks or months. Years is the right timeframe for most things.

I wanted to know how quickly how quickly I could learn all of the math concepts behind machine learning: calculus, linear algebra, probability. I found a question on Quora about it.

A person who had been studying machine learning for 30-years replied with, ‘Decades.’ And then explained how he was still discovering new things.

I was impatient. I was focusing on product rather than process.

Learning looks more like a broken staircase than a straight line.

Learning looks more like a broken staircase than a straight line.

Charles Darwin was a college dropout

How do you go from medical school dropout to discovering the theory of evolution?

Easy. You be Charles Darwin.

But what if you’re not Charles Darwin?

Not to worry, not everyone is Charles Darwin.

There will never be another Charles Darwin. History repeats, but never perfectly. It’s better to think of it as a rhyme. History rhymes with the future.

Charles Darwin dropped out of medical school much to the disappointment of his family of physicians. He then travelled the world as a naturist.

Years went on but one thing never changed, he kept looking at things in nature with a child-like mind.

He’d take walks multiple times per day in between periods of study. Focused mind and diffused mind.

Take any introduction to biology course and you’ll know what happened next.

I’ve condensed a story of decades into sentences but the point is everyone has to start somewhere.

The first year you learn something new you suck. The second year you suck even more because you realise how much you don’t know.

There’s no need to envy those who seem to know what they’re doing. Every genius starts somewhere.

‘He who says he can and he who says he can’t are usually right’

The course credits Henry Ford as saying the above. But the internet is telling me it’s from Confucius.

It doesn’t matter. Whoever said it was also right.

If you believe you can’t learn something, you’re right.

If you believe you can learn something, you’re right.

Dr. Oakley was a linguist during her twenties. She didn’t like math. So how did she become an engineering professor?

By changing her belief in what she could learn.

I used to tell myself, ‘I’ll never be the best engineer.’

I said it to someone at a meetup. They replied, ‘not with that attitude.’ A simple yet profound statement. All the best ones are.

Whatever it is you decide to learn, it all starts with the story you tell yourself. Pretend you’re the hero in the story of your own learning journey. Challenges will arise. It’s inevitable. But how does the hero deal with them? You decide.

Learning: the ultimate meta-skill

Taking responsibility for your learning is one of the most important undertakings you can manage.

Learning is the ultimate meta-skill as it can be applied to any other skill. So if you want to improve your ability to do anything, learning how to learn is something you should dedicate time to.

The things I’ve mentioned in this article are only scratching the surface of what’s available in the Learning How to Learn course. I’ve left out exercise, learning with others, studying in different locations. But you can imagine the benefits these have.

If you want to dig deeper, I highly recommend checking out the full Learning How to Learn course. I paid for the certificate but it’s not needed. You can access all the materials for free. However, I find I take things more serious when I pay for them. And the information in this course is worth paying for.

“If you’re not embarrassed by who you were last year, you’re not learning enough.” - Alain de Botton

Keep learning.

PS there’s a video version of this article available on my channel. I’m a visual learner so I like to watch things and read them if I can.


Source: https://link.medium.com/nB4U2kbs3T

How to be your own biggest fan

After watching Titanic for the first time, I wanted to be like Leonardo DiCaprio.

I wanted to be in the movies.

I told my mum and she booked me in for an audition for a company that made TV advertisements.

We went along.

Auditions were being held at the Mecure hotel. The conference room lobby was the biggest room I’d ever been in. The carpet was red, purple and orange.

I was probably nervous but you don’t think of it like that when you’re 9. I kept myself distracted by inspecting the indoor plants and running around talking to the other kids.

Then it was my turn. My mum came and got me and we walked into another room. It wasn’t as big as the lobby. There was a walkway through the middle with chairs on either side. And a few adults at the other end of the room.

We walked towards the adults.

I can’t remember what they said but I remember feeling excited. You never remember what was said but you always remember how you feel.

‘Can I do that?’ I asked.

A girl was doing a catwalk up and down the gap in the chairs.

‘A catwalk?’

‘Yeah!’

‘Sure!’

I did the catwalk. Up and the down the same place the other girl did it. The adult auditions girl smiled and laughed. I nailed it.

My mum took me home. I turned on the TV and imagined myself being in the ads.

Waiting for a reply from the company was hell. It had been two days but two days feels like a month when you’re 9.

More waiting. No reply. More waiting. Still no reply.

I began to lose hope. ‘Why didn’t they pick me?’

My mum called the company.

‘We’ve gone out of business,’ they said.

She told me. I didn’t believe it. I had convinced myself I was already in.

Maybe they didn’t close down. Maybe mum was trying to be nice because I didn't actually get in. All these stories I told myself.

My friend’s sister also auditioned. Her mum sent my mum an article from the newspaper. The article said the company closed down. My mum was right. I should’ve believed her. I was already a movie star to her.

11-years later, I auditioned to be on Big Brother. We had to run around the room acting like chickens. ‘You should’ve sat there barking like a dog, you would’ve stood out.’ My friend said. What a good idea. Too late though, I didn’t make it through the first round.

4-years after, I made it through to the last round of auditions for Survivor. For the final challenge we had to replicate a scene from the show. We were split into tribes. I was the leader of one tribe. The first challenge was a solo puzzle solve. I volunteered. We started and a few quick solves later, I pulled out in front. I held the lead and ending up winning easily. The next challenge was stacking jenga, we sent our tall guy in. He couldn’t cope, he got shaky hands. I stepped in and stacked our tower to the roof. Our tribe won by a mile. Two days later I got a call, ‘Sorry Daniel, you haven’t made it through.’

By this point I already had my own TV show. One where I’m the lead actor, director, editor, story writer.

I thought I wanted to be like Leonardo DiCaprio. But really all I wanted to be was my own biggest fan.

The internet allows this. It removes the gatekeepers. No more auditions.

Want to be in a movie? You can make it, edit it and upload it to YouTube. Now everyone around the world can see it.

All it takes is a little courage. A little courage to take the leap and hit publish. My first 30 videos were me talking to myself in my car. All bad. But I still got the rush every time I hit publish. It doesn’t have to be videos either. It can be whatever you want to make. But the thing doesn’t matter, the rush is what you’re after.

I’ve watched my latest video over half a dozen times. I smile and laugh every time. My brother edited it for me. He wants to get better at video editing. He did a great job.

My channel now has a trailer. Like the trailers you see you for movies. It’s got all the things I’m into, food, movement and learning. Plus it’s funny.

It’s okay to be selfish sometimes. You have to become your own biggest fan. If not you, who?

I’m my own biggest fan.


PS my little brother, Sam, is giving himself a 100 day challenge for making videos. He wants to make a video a day for 100 days and show people different parts of Brisbane at the same time. Here’s his first one. Hold him to it.

4000.

Over the holiday period I hit 4000 subscribers on YouTube.

Thank you all.

As you know, the number doesn’t mean much to me. I’d rather have 4000 people who are interested in what’s happening than 4,000,000 who are there because the crowd is.

To celebrate the milestone, I held a livestream answering your questions and sharing my curriculum for 2019.

As you’ll see in the video I focused on the questions more than the curriculum. The specific things I’m interested in learning might not be the same as you but we do have one thing in common. The hunger for knowledge.

My curriculum is heavily focused on the intersection of health and technology. How can we use technology more or use it less to help us live healthier lives? I think about this question ferociously.

Some of the questions I answered in the video include:

  • How to study something new

  • Where to learn the math required for machine learning

  • How to get an internship in data science (or any field)

  • The two main things you should be focused on when deciding what to study (hint: curiosity + practicality)

If you have anything on your mind I didn’t get to, send me an email.

Happy New Year.



When does it all start to make sense?

I read a post on LinkedIn the other day which talked about how someone had been coding Python for 10-years but still looks up some basic functions every day.

I've been a machine learning engineer for 8-months and I do the same.

If you could see my Stack Overflow history, you’d find a bunch of things which you'd expect to find in the first chapter of a book on Pandas.

It's my own fault. I could take the time and learn all the functions off by heart. Then I wouldn't have to look them up every time.

But what happens when they change? Or if the library gets updated?

It's hard to change a way of doing things if it’s the way you've always done it. So learning a programming language off by heart may be helpful but it could lead to problems down the road.

I'm a fan of learning what you need to learn when you need to learn it and not being deterred by your previous learnings.

This kind of firey curiosity is extinguished in school. Instead of crossing knowledge roadblocks when they come, the curriculum tries to prepare you for every single one.

What's more important than knowing what to do in every situation is knowing how to figure out what to do. Knowing how to ask questions, knowing how (and being willing) to be wrong.

So when does it all start to make sense?

Someone asked me this the other day. They had been coding Python and working on a few projects but still running into a few struggle points.

I replied back with my experience of things still not making sense at times and an answer similar to the above.

I prefer things not to make sense every so often. If everything made sense, the world would be a pretty boring place.

I'm not a fan of boring. And I know you aren't either.

Creating and deploying data science/machine learning pipelines on the cloud still doesn’t make sense to me. But I'm getting there. The Data Engineering on Google Cloud Specialization on Coursera has been helping. Part 4 was all about streaming data. I talk about it more in my latest video.

By the numbers: November's YouTube stats

I love making videos.

Even after 150 or so, there’s something about pushing that publish button that gives me a rush like no other.

I can’t wait to keep making more.

Here are November 2018’s stats.

I’ve always been fascinated by numbers. 59,658 minutes is 41.4 days. 41.4 days worth of watch time in a month. That’s crazy.

I’ve always been fascinated by numbers. 59,658 minutes is 41.4 days. 41.4 days worth of watch time in a month. That’s crazy.

Plenty more to come.

Thank you all.

You still control these things

My Godfather, Damo and I went to lunch at the LinkedIn New York City offices. He worked for LinkedIn two years ago and still had plenty of friends there.

I knew people loved him but I didn't realise how much.

'OMG Damien!'

'Damo, how are you!'

'Damien's back!!!'

These are the type of reactions we got walking through the offices.

It was like the second coming of Jesus. The whole floor was lit up.

Everyone welcomed us with open arms.

It was inspiring.

People forget specifics but they'll never forget how you make them feel.

Even if you work for someone else. You're still in charge of:

  • How much effort you put into your work

  • How you treat other people

  • How you treat yourself

  • Why you do what you do

When it comes to this list, you're your own boss.

PS if you've ever wondered what lunch at a global tech company is like, I shot some footage while we were there. And since the LinkedIn offices are in the Empire State Building, we checked out the view from the 86th floor too.


How to explore your first Kaggle competition dataset and make a submission

The first time doing something is always the hardest.

People had asked me in the past, 'Have you entered Kaggle competitions?'

'Not yet.'

Until the other day. I made my first official submission.

I'd dabbled before. Looked around at the website. Read some posts. But never properly downloaded the data and went through it.

Why?

Fear. Fear of looking at the data and having no idea what to do. And then feeling bad for not knowing anything.

But after a while, I realised that's not a helpful way to think.

I downloaded the Titanic dataset. The one that says 'Start here!' when you visit the competitions page.

A few months into learning machine learning, I wouldn't have been able to explore the dataset.

I learned by starting at the top of the mountain instead of climbing up from the bottom. I started with deep learning instead of practising how to explore a dataset from scratch.

But that's okay. The same principle would apply if you start exploring a dataset from scratch. Once the datasets got bigger, and you wanted your models to be better, you'd have to learn deep learning eventually.

Working through the Titanic data take me a few hours. Then another few hours to tidy up the code. The first run through of any data exploration should always be a little messy. After all, you're trying to build an intuition of the data as quick as possible.

Then came submission time. My best model got a score of just under 76%. Yours will too if you follow through the steps in the notebook on my GitHub.

I made the notebook accessible so you can follow it through and make your very own first Kaggle submission.

There are a few challenges and extensions too if you want to improve on my score. I encourage you to see how you go with these. They might improve the model, they might not.

If you do beat my score, let me know. I'd love to hear about what you did.

Want a coding buddy? When I finished my first submission, I livestreamed myself going step by step through the code. I did my best to explain each step without going into every little detail (otherwise the video would've been 6-hours long instead of 2).

I'll be writing a more in-depth post on the what and why behind the things I did in the notebook. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, go and beat my score!

You can find the full code and data on my GitHub.

A note from 2048

It may not seem like it now but those extra hours you put into building your skills all added up.

Taking care of your health was also the right thing to do.

And don’t forget to keep reminding those close to you how much you love them.

Keep learning, keep moving, keep loving.

Best,

Your 2048 self.


PS the latest episode of Learning Intelligence is out, I’ve been learning all bout the Google Cloud Platform. I’m still a novice when it comes to dev ops but it’s becoming more and more a requirement in my day to day work. So I figured I better start getting on top of it. And make my 2048 self proud.


Four hours per day

Is all you need.

If you want to learn something, the best way to do it is bit by bit.

Cramming for exams in university never worked for me. I remember walking into campus straight to the canteen on exam day.

‘Two Red Bulls please.’

Then my knee would spend the next two-hours in the exam room tapping away but my brain would fail to connect the dots.

The most valuable thing I took away from university was learning how to learn.

By my final year, my marks started to improve. Instead of cramming a couple of days before the exam, I spread my workload out over the semester. Nothing revolutionary by any means. But it was to me.

Now whenever I want to learn something, I do the same. I try do a little per day.

For data science and programming, my brain maxes out at around four hours. After that, the work starts following the law of diminishing returns.

I use the Pomodoro technique.

On big days I’ll aim for 10.

Other days I’ll aim for 8.

It’s simple. You set a timer for 25-minutes and do nothing but the single task you set yourself at the beginning of the day for that 25-minutes. And you repeat the process for however many times you want.

Let’s say you did it 10-times, your day might look like:

8:00 am

Pomodoro 1

5-minute break

Pomodoro 2

5-minute break

Pomodoro 3

5-minute break

Pomodoro 4

30-minute break

10:25 am

Pomodoro 5

5-minute break

Pomodoro 6

5-minute break

Pomodoro 7

5-minute break

Pomodoro 8

60-minute break

1:20 pm

Pomodoro 9

5-minute break

Pomodoro 10

5-minute break

2:20 pm

Now it’s not even 2:30 pm and if you’ve done it right, you’ve got some incredible work done.

You can use the rest of the afternoon to catch up on those things you need to catch up on.

Don’t think 10 lots of 25-minutes (just over 4-hours) is enough time to do what you need?

Try it. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish in 4-hours of focused work.

The schedule above is similar to how I spent my day the other day. Except I threw in a bit of longer break during the middle of the day to go to training and have a nap.

I was working through the Applied Data Science Specialization with Python by the University of Michigan on Coursera. The lessons and projects have been incredibly close to what I’ve been doing day-to-day as a Machine Learning Engineer at Max Kelsen.

PS best to put your phone out of sight when you’ve got your timer going. I use a Mac App called Be Focused, it’s simple and does exactly the above.

Staying Fit While Travelling | Whole Body Hostel Workout

The healthiest cultures in the world don't have gym memberships.

Instead, they embrace movement.

They get up and down often. Some eat their meals on the ground and therefore are constantly getting up and down. And others tend the gardens where they grow their own food.

They walk around. Transport is available but then so are their feet. And they use them often.

Instead of slowing down their movement patterns as they get older, they keep them going.

You'll often find them in groups hosting a yoga session or Tai Chi practice.

All forms of life move. If you don't move you die.

I wasn't close to dying but I knew I'd feel better if I got moving.

I'd just come off the back of a few days worth of travel with a lack of proper sleep or nutrition. And my system was feeling sluggish.

I didn't have access to a gym but that wasn't a problem. I had a body and I had gravity (I still have those).

Workouts don't need to be long and taxing all the time. There are times to lay it all on the line but for the most part, getting a sweat on and your heart rate up for a few minutes is enough.

The title of this article says how to stay fit whilst travelling but you can do this one anytime. Find some floor space and you’re set.

You could complete this in under 25-minutes if you wanted. I did it in closer to 30 with some filming in between.


Part 1 — Upper and Lower Body

  1. 20 pushups

  2. 20 squats

  3. 45-seconds rest

  4. Repeat 5 times

Don't take any rest in between the pushups and squats. For a level up, you could shorten the rest time to 30-seconds.

Part 2 — Upper and Lower Body

  1. 20 lunges (10 each leg)

  2. 20 knees to hands -- stick your hands out 90-degrees from your elbows and raise one leg at a time to meet your hand with your knee

  3. 10 tricep dips -- I used the edge of a car for these

  4. 45-seconds rest

  5. Repeat 5 times

Do the lunges, knees to hands and tricep dips back to back with no rest in between. This helps to keep the heart rate high.

Part 3 — Core

  1. 30-seconds hollow hold (back to the floor)

  2. 30-seconds reverse hollow hold (stomach to the floor)

  3. 10 side plank twists (5 each side)

  4. 20-seconds rest

  5. Repeat for a total of 6-minutes

No rest in between each of the different movements. 20-seconds rest after completing a round of each. Continue until 6-minutes is over.

The sweat started dripping after the 3rd or 4th set of Part 1 for me. It'll be hard until it happens.

Once your body starts to sweat, it'll start to help you move. That's what you're aiming for. 15-20-minutes of sweat and hard work for a whole day of feeling good.

PS Don't forget to stay hydrated when travelling (and like, all the rest of the time). Jet lag is made worse by a lack of hydration. Combat it fast by flooding your body with water and endorphins. This workout offers half the deal.

The most important part

I write every day because it helps me stay in touch with myself.

Whatever whirlwind may be going on in life, there’s something meditative about being able to sit down and write about it.

Most days, it’s thoughts onto the page. But some days I take track of small milestones to look back on as progress.

The journal app I used here and there is called Day One. You can tag entries to keep similar ones together.

Today, I looked at the YouTube tag.

Screen Shot 2018-10-27 at 10.28.42 pm.png

Nearly a year later to the day (today), I hosted a livestream on my channel celebrating 3000 subscribers.

And I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

I don’t have a number goal. 10,000 or 10,000,000 it doesn’t matter to me. I enjoy learning and I enjoy creating videos about what I learn.

But if I can bring as much value to others as I do myself when I’m making them, the number will go up.

Here’s to the next yearly check in.

I have to keep reminding myself.

I have to keep reminding myself.

PS Thank you to everyone who has tuned into the channel at one time or another. You’re awesome.