Day 3 of the 40-Day Challenge

In the name of Allah, most gracious and most merciful,

Thanks to Allah I have managed to succeed on the third day of the 40-day challenge. I was nearly highly engaged on average throughout my day. In this post, I will share the challenges I faced, how I overcame them, the key takeaways from these things, and some useful information that I learned.

1. Challenges I faced and how I overcame them

1.1 Challenge 1

Since I didn’t sleep enough yesterday because of the challenges I faced, I was really tired in the second session. I was reading in a book while highlighting for preparing for an exam as I have mentioned in the second day of the 40-day challenge post. But it came into my mind that I don’t understand enough and my mind wanted to go and search for another resource, and I was even in a very bad mood due to my lack of sleep.

I knew that the reason for this is the lack of sleep, and the difficulty of the material, so I decided to have a one-hour sleep but after the sleep time comes. I kept pushing myself to read, highlight, and understand. The more I resisted the temptation to go and search for another material and to stick with the plan I have set for at least one week, the better things generally become. Step, by step, and the time came to have a sleep if I want. I felt better because I understood useful things from the material although I didn’t understand everything but it is useful.

After I wake up from the one-hour sleep, I felt much better and more enthusiastic to continue. Continuing to read the material has become easier, and faster. Moreover, I noticed that this material really needs hands-on practice so no problem if I didn’t understand everything, and the material was new to me anyway. After I felt the learning session, I found that I made good progress and that sticking to the plan that I have put yesterday is really useful. Therefore, sticking with some resource to the end if you know that it is useful although you don’t understand everything will give you at least the big picture of what you are trying to learn with some additional useful information, but you have to learn this same material again and to expose yourself to it multiple times from different sources if the source you are currently using doesn’t give you enough clear picture of the details. I have mentioned in detail my plan which includes these multiple exposures in the second day of the 40-day challenge post.

1.2 Challenge 2

Now while I was reading in the book, I didn’t find all information directly applicable, but some of them are kind of explaining the features of some used technologies. At first, I continued reading them as other material types since I couldn’t differentiate between both, but after some time has passed I started to notice a pattern in them and I managed to somehow identify them. I started to lose interest by reading these features because I didn’t apply anything but just pieces of information. Therefore, I decided to skim through these features by reading them fast without paying attention to their details whenever I encounter them to keep myself engaged while increasing the truly valuable pieces of information I want to get. I even validated these features by going to the other course I talked about in the second day of the 40-day challenge post since I didn’t find them in the course’s apparent contents. Anyway, supposing that these things I have skimmed through turned out to be important in the exam, then I think I will notice them when I expose myself to the course and the hands-on. Anyway, one-time exposure without review won’t do me much good, so the multiple exposure strategy should decrease the risk of this skimming.

By doing so, I managed to finish the chapter including highlighting seemingly important information. I really felt better now although I didn’t understand everything, but the big picture started to get clearer to me. Now following on my plan, I have to go through my highlights and take hand-written notes of them so that I have a second exposure on the material to enhance my retention and understanding. I started doing so, but I didn’t finish because I have to do another task but I felt some progress.

1.3 Challenge 3 (The Big One Again)

Yesterday, I was struggling to understand a book in which I decided to go back and forth between it and a course as I have stated in the second day of the 40-day challenge post. I was learning something related to coding, and the book contained pieces of code and a GitHub repository containing all the code, but the problem is that I just wanted something specific so yesterday I didn’t practice nearly anything but I was passively reading waiting for the section I want to come. However, from my yesterday’s experience, this proved to be a complete problem since I wasn’t actively learned which forced me to jump to a course to learn from to stay engaged.

However, today I reread the book part that I have struggled with while making my hands dirty, going back and forth over the material to understand it. I struggled at first but was somehow engaged. By repeating this procedure I started to understand, and I really enjoyed myself since I was learning something new. Time started to pass without noticing since I was engaged. That doesn’t mean that yesterday’s strategy of switching to the course when not engaged is not good, but it means that you would better go to that strategy if you are not at all engaged with the material provided that you made your hands dirty and gave it a real active learning try. Otherwise, you might just be wasting your time and you might never become engaged with the book unless you try, go back and forth and make your hands dirty.

Although I was engaged and happy, I really fall behind in a similar challenge to that of yesterday that I mentioned in the second day of the 40-day challenge post. But today’s challenge was less intensive since I was already engaged. The problem was the lack of time. I have about 4 hours left from the task, and about 5 hours left in my day, and I didn’t complete this blog post as well. Therefore, I decided to try something new but it seems that this was the only solution.

I decided to take a break, eat something, and have a drink while listening to an audiobook to charge myself then I decided to finish the 4 hours in one sitting with no any break then finish the blog post, publish it then go to sleep. This will be very difficult and is against what I know about the importance of having small breaks to improve your focus and attention. However, in coding things might be different. I was following a book and I was already engaged so continuing this should not be difficult. If I stuck in understanding something I could go back and forth and check the code until I understand after this understanding, I should apply what I understood in a task I was doing.

However, I know that this still won’t be easy at all so I decided to trick myself by setting a timer for approximately 4 hours and I am not allowed to look at the clock. I will just go straight ahead and work until the timer ends and an alarm will alarm me. To be sincere after eating and having a drink I felt that my focus decreased since part of my mind went to digesting food but I didn’t want to sleep. I started while feeling that this time will not end. But I kept pushing myself and engaging with the material until myself got adapted to the situation since there was no other option. If that is the only thing I need to do, then why not do it while being happy and learning from the material and anyway it is something new to me.

As time passed whenever I notice myself not so engaged I read from the book out loud in a specific voice to make the material fun for me, and I always coded while learning from the book which made time passes faster. Repeating this trick of changing my voice, and sometimes having fun while explaining the material to myself made things easier. However, after a while, I finished the chapter I was learning and went to code my task. After finishing the chapter I thought that much time should have passed now and I am about to finish. On the contrary, I kept coding and the timer still didn’t alarm me so I thought that the alarm might have stopped working. But I resisted the urge to check the time and I usually had the hope that the time will soon end. Finally, the timer alarmed me that the time has ended, and I was so happy by this time that I stopped what I was doing immediately to continue writing that blog post before my sleep deadline. Although it was a difficult situation, I was happy after finishing it, and I think this may give me clues of how when we trick ourselves in different situations we could do a lot. But to be sincere, I am not sure if doing this is the most effective while learning to code or not. But you could give it a try if you wish, and experiment with yourself.

Another thing I think has helped me is that I have already been engaged before starting the 4-hour session. This inertia may have given me a boost, but maybe if I just started this task in this 4-hour one sitting it may have been more challenging.

Since this is the second time to encounter such lack of time, I should rethink how to put restrictions on myself in the morning so that I won’t be on so tight deadlines.

2. Key Takeaways

  • Be a finisher. Finishing the chapter or the book or whatever you started is very rewarding since you will see the big picture that the author or the lecturer wanted to tell you. If you didn’t finish something, you may have wasted too much effort.
  • Pay attention to the most important pieces of information in a book. The author may want to stress on key important ideas and throughout the book he is giving examples, and may sometimes go off track to explain something relevant. Define your goal from reading the book, and don’t give all your attention to all of the book equally but try to distill the key ideas that you want. Remember the pareto principle which states that 20% of the efforts helps in achieving 80% of results then you reach the law of diminishing returns so define your goal, and put the first things first. Don’t focus on the extras although you didn’t finish the core thing.
  • Experiment with different techniques to trick yourself whatever difficult there maybe. By going to extremes, you can sometimes discover new things that you never imagined. So experiment with what best works for you, monitor your performance from time to time, and see how to improve. Even if you wasn’t able to stay in the extreme, you could return to the normal but with higher awareness and higher potential.
  • In your breaks, do something useful that charges your power. Don’t just listen to any silly thing. What if you enjoyed listening to certain useful uplifting topics so that you charge your brain with hope and new ideas.
  • Start with doing great work to have inertia to continue doing the great work and to go even further.

3. Useful Pieces of Information

  • Normal actions yield normal results. Think to the extremes, experiment and see where you can go.
  • Don’t always do things as they are, but try to experiment with them to firstly ensure that you understood them, and to secondly integrate them with your other knowledge so that they will be more useful.
  • With great responsibility comes great power. Be responsible of your actions, and don’t blame others. See what you could and do it. When you believe that you could do something, your mind may give you ideas that you have never imagined. Believe and achieve. If you didn’t believe in the possibility, you won’t even try.
  • Surround yourselves with great people in your life and your career. Your environment, what you listen to, and what you hear to could have a tremendous impact on you. So see what you could do and try to make a better environment for yourself to grow, thrive, and be more useful to yourself and to others.

Finally

Thank you. I hope this post has been beneficial to you. I would appreciate any comments if anyone needed more clarifications or if anyone has seen something wrong in what I have written in order to modify it, and I would also appreciate any possible enhancements or suggestions. We are humans, and errors are expected from us, but we could also minimize those errors by learning from our mistakes and by seeking to improve what we do.

Allah bless our master Muhammad and his family.

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