Perfecting and Improving Upon a Task or Skill
Although it was written in the Attitude section that you should only aim for high quality and not perfection, this article is entitled "perfecting" a task to grab readers' attention. Otherwise people would likely think, "Just improving upon a Task? I don't want to learn anything about that." This type of thinking may be due to societal values urging people that simply making improvements won't work.
Often, when you are trying to improve upon a task, you feel that you have made little, if any, progress. Then, suddenly, one day when you do not notice, you will feel like a professional. You will feel as if you had entered a new realm and that you can perform that task with ease and grace. That day, you will know that your sweat and toil has paid off and that you can perform that task superbly.
Study it well. You do need to study how the masters do it. If you would like to improve your tennis, study the professionals on television. Record the show (if it's allowed). Replay it to yourself again and again. See what that tennis player is up to with every move. If you like taking photographs, study the photographs that you admire. Study every little detail. Why do you enjoy this particular photograph? How can you apply it to your own photography? Only when you have studied enough of the masters for a long period enough of the time that concepts will really soak in, and at that point, you will be a natural at what you have strived so hard to perfect, and your own style will likely flower as well.
Read discriminately about the topic. Besides studying well-known examples of masters and what you enjoy, try to read on the topic as much as possible. You will glean important insights from others who have traveled your path. To make it easier to recall and review your learning, you should probably keep a notebook of key ideas and techniques that you wish to apply when it is your turn to do it. Just be careful to be selective in your reading and in following the advice of what you read. You should be able to discern what is good advice and what is junk either from experience or through your own feelings about the subject.
Practice sufficiently with intermittent breaks. Of course, the most obvious when it comes to how to improve upon a task is to do it over and over. Experience really helps improve the task, as well as perfecting those muscles so that every movement you make involves the fine movement of a certain muscle, whether it be a brain "muscle," skeletal muscle, or whatever muscle. You should also remember to analyze what you did well and what you did wrong. It also helps to have an expert or a friend critique you. For example, if you want to improve your public speaking, you can join a public speaking club such as Toastmasters, where members of the club speak and are evaluated by other fellow members. Besides analyzing the results, though, you also need to remember to take breaks. Just as when working out, you need to take breaks to let your muscles grow, you also need to take breaks when you try to improve upon a certain task.
Tune in to your weaknesses. In order to truly succeed, you must be your own best critic. You must always be on guard to critique yourself. Generally, throughout school you were marked by teachers, who were your external "meters" in telling you what was right or wrong. They gave you direction and generally tried to steer you on the right path.
However, the person who has the best chances of improvement is the person who spends the time tuning in to his/her own faults, recognizing them, and then devising ways to improve them. This tuning in is vital, for if you do not realize that there is something wrong, you will not even know that you need to improve. Thus, you have to learn to constantly ask yourself, "How can I improve?" For example, if you were a piano player, you would want to be able to listen intently to each and every note. You would try out different nuances of the tones by controlling your finger movements in different ways. You would then be your own critic and decide which tone you liked the most.
So tune in to your life, your actions, your behavior, your thoughts, any aspect of your life. Tune in to it and then you will know that you will need to take actions to improve it. Start today.
It often takes much time to perfect a task, perhaps even through your entire life. In fact, each time you come back to it, you gain a better understanding, you synthesize material that you have acquired from other areas of life, and you can apply it to the task that you are perfecting. Each time you get a bit better.
In summary, to improve upon any task, you may want to follow these guidelines:
A. Study it well.
B. Read discriminately on the topic.
C. Practice sufficiently with intermittent breaks.
D. Tune in to your weaknesses.
Life Skills > Work Skills > Perfecting and Improving a Task or Skill