Nick Ang profile picture

Nick Ang

Prioritise regularity over quality

When it comes to learning, always choose to do what works for you.

But if you don’t know what works for you yet, then choose what can be done either daily or weekly. My simple rule for learning is to always prioritise regularity over all else. Yes, even quality.

Why is regularity important? Because it’s impossible to not improve at something that you keep doing regularly.

I have many examples from my life:

  • Flossing
  • Blogging
  • Coding
  • Cooking
  • Everything about caring for a baby: bathing, changing diapers, putting on clothes, fastening the child car seat, burping, holding, strapping to body with a cloth wrap, estimating clothes sizes, …

Are there counter-examples where regularity leads people to deteriorate at something they’re trying to learn? Nope. Not unless you’re talking about excessiveness, like rock climbing everyday without rest thinking that you’ll improve quicker than the rest. But we’re interested in learning normal things here, not becoming world champions.

Before we reach the level where we can write quality blog posts, we should write regularly.

Before we reach the level where we can floss well, we should floss regularly.

Before we reach the level where we can code well, we should code regularly.

Before we reach the level where we can cook well, we should cook regularly.

Then one day, we’ll realise that we can write well, floss well, code well, cook well, and care well for a baby.

Then, and only then, should we even entertain the idea that spending more time on a single blog post, flossing session, coding session, or cooking session, leads to quality. Because by then we’ll actually know what quality is for us and we’ll be able to plot a path to achieving it. Maybe we’ll even achieve it regularly.

Edit 31.10.2022: I wrote a poem about this tension and it reminded me of this post, so I’m inserting it here.

Edit 9.12.2022: Austin Kleon has a blog post called Quantity leads to quality and it shares a retelling of a story that beautifully illustrates the point.

Nick Ang profile picture
Husband, dad, and software engineer that writes. Big on learning something everyday and trying to have fun before the lights go out.
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