UnTAPed Learning

by PDV 2y23rd Oct 201721 comments


[Epistemic Status: Request for Proposal]

For anyone who is familiar with CFAR's teaching program, the concept of the TAP will be very familiar. It's an acronym that expands either to Trigger-Action Pattern (for naturally-occurring instances) or Trigger-Action Plan (for purposefully-implemented instances); the latter is known academically as "implementation intentions". While there is room for contest for the title of "Most Important CFAR Skill" in terms of which one has the most impact of regular use, in terms of driving adoption of techniques, TAPs are the foundation of the entire curriculum. From simple skills to complex ones, the default flow of practicing a skill is "install a TAP to practice this", and the default call to action of most CFAR classes is "spend five minutes brainstorming TAPs to install".

They're extremely useful...if they work at all.

For me, they don't. I struggled to find any example at all of a trigger-action patterns in my own life, and even following the extreme repetition, hard-mode path to installing a TAP, found that it vanished as soon as I stopped consciously thinking about keeping it up.

I liked most of the techniques I learned at my workshop. Many seemed quite useful to apply. I remember approximately none of them, because, deprived of the core tool to maintain them, every piece of practice looked like

It's a strong foundation, for most people. But it's still a foundation; if it doesn't hold, nothing else is any use. So:

What other things have people devised to turn a technique from a sketch of ideas to something used often enough that it's a proper skill?

As a starting point, things that I use in my particular case:



Calendar reminders.

These are all reasonably good at their particular, time-based niches. But none of them work well for irregularly-occurring opportunities or for fuzzier, less specific types of practice.

An alternate question, which seems to me to be similar in applicability, is:
How would you build a daily or weekly routine
from scratch, with literally no existing example to piggyback on?