Grow Your Skills with a Daily Challenge

There's no better way to grow your skills than daily, deliberate practice. In this post, I dive into what that is, how to do it in a way that's fun and effective, and how to apply it to grow your coding, design, or entrepreneurship skills.

In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear tells the story of a photography professor who gives his students two different assignments.

The first group of students is tasked with taking 1 perfect photo.

The second group is tasked only with taking 100 photos.

The first group would be graded on the quality of their image, and the second on the quantity.

The professor was surprised to find that the quantity group produced a significantly greater number of high-quality photos than the quality group.

At the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all the best photos were produced by the quantity group. During the semester, these students were busy taking photos, experimenting with composition and lighting, testing out various methods in the darkroom, and learning from their mistakes. In the process of creating hundreds of photos, they honed their skills. Meanwhile, the quality group sat around speculating about perfection. In the end, they had little to show for their efforts other than unverified theories and one mediocre photo.

There is a lot to be learned about growing our skills in this little paragraph. I tend to suffer greatly from information overload and decision fatigue.

I plan for days, writing down exactly what I'm going to do and how I'm going to do it, figuring out every last detail, and then that little gremlin called doubt creeps in.

I start wondering if I really chose the best plan, maybe I should tweak this part, actually this part could be better too.

This happens when trying to learn a new skill, starting a new business, basically any long-term growth project I try to undertake.

I've recently begun to appreciate the importance of the JFDI attitude.

But, there's a good and a bad way to go about it.

Opening up a design program and starting to randomly throw things together with no plan whatsoever isn't going to cut it either.

The key is implementing a system not for the perfect business, perfect learning plan, perfect app, etc.

The goal is to create a system for consistently and effectively practicing those things.

So how can we balance having an organized, structured plan for accomplishing something with making sure that we actually get the work done?

My current favorite is practicing a daily challenge.

The Daily Challenge

I have a lot of interests, and a lot of things I want to accomplish for myself.

If I'm not careful, I get overwhelmed and end up accomplishing very little over the long term.

One solution that has worked well for me to combat this is a daily challenge.

They provide a good balance of giving a step by step plan with an emphasis on doing work consistently every day.

If you can take part in a challenge and then implement the habits you learned into your normal routine, you are well on your way to a drastic improvement in your skills.

Here are a few challenges I'm currently taking part in, two are being run by others, and my assignments are being given to me, and one is a challenge I'm handling myself.

UI Design Challenge

I've been working on growing my UI design skills for a few months now. One of the courses I'm in to help with that process is Laura Elizabeth's Design Fundamentals.

As part of that class, she recently hosted a 7 Day UI Design Challenge for students.

Every day, she gives us a UI element to design, and we spend up to an hour designing it.

This is a great example of a simple challenge that will rapidly develop your skills.

You could take this same concept and apply it to coding, marketing, social media, or anything else you are trying to get good at.

Couple it with writing publicly about the process and you have the beginnings of building a solid personal brand.

28 Day Kajabi Challenge

I'm currently in the process of starting and launching a course designed to help photographers create websites that grow their business.

In order to do this, I'm using Kajabi and following along with a challenge they have posted.

This type of challenge is more targeted to a specific goal than the other, but the focus is still on small, daily actions.

The 100 Day Project

Finally, I'm in the middle of creating a mobile app from scratch using React Native, and I'm accomplishing that goal via a 100 Day Project.

The goal is simple, work on one project every day for 100 straight days.

This one obvisouly has the biggest commitment, but sticking to it can have a drastic impact on your creative skills.

If you're looking for a way to effectively grow your skills, creating a daily challenge for yourself is a great place to start.

My name is Ken. I design, code, and write.

I'm greatly interested in the process of taking websites, software, and digital products from idea all the way to execution and beyond.

I write about the intersection of design, development, marketing, and entrepreneurship, and how to build great things that make a difference.

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