M2M Day 257: Whoa, that was an unexpected confidence boost

This post is part of Month to Master, a 12-month accelerated learning project. For July, my goal is to solve a Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle in one sitting without any aid.

It’s Saturday again, so it’s time to formally check in on my progress since last week — using today’s Saturday NYT puzzle as the barometer.

Today, I was able to fill in 140 out of the 195 squares of the puzzle, or 72% of the grid, without any aid. This is certainly a better-than-expected week-over-week improvement.

While I didn’t actually feel like I got better this week (in fact, my confidence noticeably dipped), now that I’ve compared today’s performance to my performances on July 1 and July 8, my progress is undeniable.

On July 1, I completed 30% of the puzzle (on the left). On July 8, I completed 47% of the puzzle (in the center). And now, on July 15, I completed 72% of the puzzle (on the right).

Interestingly, according to Rex Parker, today’s puzzle was also the most difficult puzzle of the three (relative to the average Saturday puzzle).

Here’s a timelapse of today’s effort…

It seems that the constant feeling of struggle this week wasn’t actually a bad sign, but instead, an indicator that I was pushing myself to improve.

Still, going into this puzzle, my brain was low on confidence and a bit shut down. It took me a good few minutes to find my rhythm, but once I did, I built some solid momentum.

If you watch the entire hour-long video, with commentary, you’ll see me struggle for the first few minutes, and then, all of a sudden, something clicks in my brain and I start performing at the upper boundary of my training.

Today’s solve was a major confidence boost, and I’m looking to ride this high for as long as I can.

More likely though, I will need to continue aggressively training, forcing myself to once again confront the limits of my own intelligence, which is always fun.

But, this kind of training is how effective learning happens, so I’m prepared for the temporary (sometimes, oddly pleasurable) pain that’s yet to come.

Read the next post. Read the previous post.

Max Deutsch is a product manager at Intuit, the creator of Somebody.io and Rightspeed, and the guinea pig for Month to Master.

If you want to follow along with Max’s year-long accelerated learning project, make sure to follow this Medium account.