M2M Day 73: I fell into a very common trap

This post is part of Month to Master, a 12-month accelerated learning project. For January, my goal is to solve a Rubik’s Cube in under 20 seconds.

Yesterday, I took some time to reflect on the Rubik’s Cube progress I’ve made so far this month. I mentioned that I wasn’t progressing at the pace I was hoping, and I presented four theories as to why I thought this might be.

Interestingly, when I started writing the article, I only had three theories in mind. The fourth came to me while I was proofreading.

I tested this fourth theory today, and shaved two seconds off my average solve time. It also reminded me something important about life.

The Fourth Theory: Poor pre-solve planning

Yesterday, here’s the theory I put forward:

Before every solve, speed cubers are allowed 15 seconds to inspect the scrambled cube. During this time, it’s advised to make some sort of plan.
Typically, most speed cubers can plan out the entire cross and one F2L pair during inspection. On the other hand, I seem to only plan, on average, two of the four edge pieces necessary to form the cross.
As a result, my cross is still too slow, and my transition to F2L is usually terrible. After I finish the cross, I pause for maybe 1–2 seconds just to assess the situation.

Today, as a follow-up, I attempted to better use my inspection time, which I expected I could improve over the next week with deliberate practice.

However, as soon as I started actively using my prep time, I was able to plan for the entire cross during inspection without a problem. I guess this is something I was already able to do (and was previously just being mentally lazy about).

The result: My solves were two seconds faster, on average, which is a nice bonus and a great help in my quest towards a 20-second solve.

It’s interesting that I didn’t think about this inefficiency earlier in the month.

A hiccup in my approach

Typically, the way I approach learning a new skills is as follow:

  1. Breakdown the entire process end-to-end
  2. Identify which parts of the process I’m worse at / are causing the most inefficiencies
  3. Identify which parts of the process offer the most upside growth potential
  4. Overlay these two lists to determine how to prioritize my practice
  5. Practice
  6. Repeat, as appropriate

However, when I was originally working through this approach, I was completely blind to “the inspection phase” as part of the end-to-end process. In fact, in the post where I deconstruct the Rubik’s Cube process, I never even mention inspection.

This was a big miss.

Why did I originally miss this?

I’m not actually surprised I missed inspection as part of my deconstruction.

I fell into a very common learning trap. Or maybe it’s just a life trap in general:

In life, we are often so driven to succeed at our goals, that we jump right to execution without taking a moment to plan for and setup our success. As a result, even though it feels like we’re moving faster, we’re actually going slower.
Usually, this is the result of mental laziness. It’s easier to distract our brains with “progress”, than it is to thoughtfully plan and reflect on our goals.

My eagerness to solve the cube forced me into this not-usually-so-optimal behavior.

Anyway, I plan to use all 15 seconds of my inspection time moving forward.

Read the next post. Read the previous post.

Max Deutsch is an obsessive learner, product builder, guinea pig for Month to Master, and founder at Openmind.

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