But Ericsson's research found that one group of expert violinists averaged 10,000 hours. Another group of "expert" violinists averaged 5,000 hours, and other numbers he cites for expertise range from 500 to 25,000. So really, it's generalizing from "you should have 10,000 hours of practice by the time you're 20 if you want an international career as a violinist" to "you should get 10,000 hours of practice if you want to be an expert in anything"....
So I put that example because one of the things that felt like a breakthrough in cooking ability for me was seeing a post listing a bunch of world cuisines by spices (I think it was a post by Jeff Kaufman, but I can't find it now). Having a sense of which spices usually contribute to the flavor profile I want made me a better cook than my arbitrary "sniff spice and guess whether that would be good" previous method.
So while you're spending your 10k hours on some creative pursuit, maybe it's worth spending one hour brainstorming these "other means".
Arguably a great example of deliberate practice for finding better methods.
That seems likely. I'm not calling Gladwell out - I also haven't read the book, and there's probably a pretty defensible motte there. However, it seems likely that he laid the foundation for the popular internet version by overstating the evidence for it, e.g. this quote from the book: “The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours."
And the rule-run-amok-on-the-internet generally assumes necessary and sufficient, e.g. this quote from Ericsson "The popular internet version of the 10 000 h rule suggests that attaining expert performance is all about getting more and more practice and experience in a given domain of activity and then reaching an expert status at 10 000 h."
Interesting. None of the sleep doctors I spoke to recommended data sources. However, they seemed to consider even at-home professional sleep tests with skepticism, so this might say more about the level of accuracy they want than about the potential usefulness of personal devices.
As for age, I tried to focus this post on actionable advice. The non-actionable factors that influence sleep are simply to numerous for me to cover properly, and, unfortunately, however impactful aging is on sleep, reversing aging isn't (yet!) in my repertoire of recommendations.
Sounds like you're describing autonomy, mastery, and meaning - some of the big factors that are supposed to influence job satisfaction. 80,000 Hours has an old but nice summary here https://80000hours.org/articles/job-satisfaction-research. I expect job satisfaction and the resulting motivation make a huge difference on hours you can work productively.
For retired and homemaking folks, I think that's really up to them. I don't have a good model for external evaluation. For a student who wants to do impactful things later, I think the calculations are similar. Since I can't link to it easily, I'm reposting a FB post by Rob Wiblin on a similar point: "There's something kinda funny about how we don't place much value on the time of high school and undergraduate students.To see that, imagine that person X will very likely be able to do highly valuable work for society and earn a high peak income of say $100 an hour by the time they're 35. As a result they'll work a solid 50-60 hours a week.But today, as a 19 year old undergraduate, X is only able to earn $15 in hospitality. They also feel they quickly hit declining returns on studying and so, like many undergrads, spend a lot of time goofing off and having fun, because it seems like the opportunity cost of their time is really low.That's fine as a lifestyle choice, but the whole scenario is also... weird. If their career advancement is purely determined by how quickly they learn what they need to learn, and generally become fully-fledged adults, then the true opportunity cost of each hour should be closer to $100 than $20. That's because each extra day of training they do now should bring forward the day they reach their peak productivity by about... a day. Their opportunity cost being low is an illusion stemming from it not yet being tangible and measurable.If we model career progression as literally just a linear series of steps that take you from zero productivity up to a peak plateau productivity, before then going back down due to the effects of ageing, then the opportunity cost at the outset, before you've learned anything at all is... the productivity at the peak.Of course many things interfere with this simplified analysis:• Becoming more productive is partly just a matter of growing older in calendar time, as the brain, body and personality mature.• Lots and lots of career capital is gained through 'goofing off', following random interests, exploring the world, working on yourself & your mental health, and socialising. People who skip these parts of life often face problem later on. So what looks 'unproductive' will often be as good as or better than formal training.• If you're on an inflexible path (e.g. becoming a radiologist) there may simply be no way to speed up the rate at which you learn or can start working. You have to go through a series of predetermined steps that suit the average participant, using materials you can't access yourself, and which occur in calendar time no matter what you do.• People also want to have fun — work and productivity are far from everything.The main lessons I draw from this are:• The true opportunity costs of talented young people are higher than they initially appear, maybe much higher.
• When young people can't afford the tools they need to learn most effectively, this is no joke. Rather it's a heartbreaking waste of human capital.
This kind of thing includes: a great laptop, peripherals and desk; ability to commute quickly; a quiet house or room to study in; connection with colleagues to form a study group; a great bed and other things that improve sleep; help with mental and physical health when required; etc. Basically all the stuff that's 'profitable' for 40 year-old professionals who earn a lot and so value every hour of their time.
• Having training systems that allow people to choose to work harder and advance faster are good. At least if they don't eat into valuable informal learning.
• It can be a real waste of society's limited human capital to have high school, undergrad and postgrad students waiting tables to pay the bills, just because they have no collateral with which to borrow against their likely future income."
Maximization of neglectedness gives different results from those of maximization of impact.
I don't disagree, but my point is that you can't directly maximize impact without already knowing a lot. Other people will usually do the work that's very straightforward to do, so the highest counterfactually valuable work requires specialized knowledge or insights.
Obviously there are many paths that are low-impact. Since it's hard to know which are valuable before you learn about them, you should make a theory-of-change hypothesis and start testing that best guess. That way you're more likely to get information that causes you to make a better plan if you're on a bad track.
As I understand it, your objection is that "being the best" means traditional career success (probably high prestige and money), and this isn't a good path for maximizing impact. That makes sense, but I'm not talking about prestige or money (unless you're trying to earn to give). When I say "best," I mean being able to make judgement calls and contributions that the other people working on the issue can't. The knowledge and skills that make you irreplaceable increase your chances of making a difference.
Honestly, the main thing was to start treating my life as an experiment. Before that, I was just doing what the doctors told me without checking to see if their recommendations actually produced good results. For me, experimenting mainly meant that I 1. tried tracking a bunch of things on my own and analyzing the results, and 2. was willing to try a lot more things, like caffeine pills and antidepressants, because the information value was high. (I first did my research and, when relevant, checked with a doctor, of course.) I think there was a mindset shift somewhere along the way explicitly rejecting that the status quo was innately good. If I was unsatisfied with something, I could try to change it, and I was effective if it got better. After I started experimenting, I prioritized experiments to deal with the bottleneck of fatigue and it was fairly straightforward.