The Feynman Technique


When historian Charles Weiner looked over a pile of Richard Feynman’s notebooks, he called them a wonderful ‘record of his day-to-day work’.

“No, no!”, Feynman objected strongly.

“They aren’t a record of my thinking process. They are my thinking process. I actually did the work on the paper.”

“Well,” Weiner said, “The work was done in your head, but the record of it is still here.”

“No, it’s not a record, not really. It’s working. You have to work on paper and this is the paper. Okay?”, Feynman explained.

Source: Clive Thompson (2014). Smarter Than You Think. p. 7

Richard Feynman, who won the Nobel prize for Physics, understood that writing his equations and ideas on paper was crucial to his thought.

Let me ask you this – how many times it has happened that, after reading a book, you thought you understood the idea but found it difficult to explain it to others? The idea seemed pretty clear in your head but the moment you had to verbalize it you discovered that either you didn’t have a proper grasp on the idea at the first place or you were unable to explain it in a logical coherent way to a third person.

As far as I am concerned, this is the kind of reaction people gave me, “You’re telling me that you just finished reading a compelling book but can’t explain the central idea in few sentences?”

Reading something passively creates an illusion of knowledge. It creates a confusion between  ‘mere familiarity with the concepts’ in the book and an actual understanding of them. Only by testing ourselves can we actually determine whether or not we really understand.

This is when the Feynman Technique came to my rescue. It says that the mere action of writing something down allows for a more effective integration of the learning.


Work harder on yourself than you do on your Job


This is a followup on the answer I wrote on Quora. There I tried my best to keep the answer short and crispy, as I hate lengthy essay type of answers, as it is very hard to read on mobile device. (I use Quora mostly on my phone).

“Work harder on yourself than you do on your Job”, wise words from the late Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.

What does that mean?

Well most people, if they are employed, get up and go to work and spend eight hours or more in the workplace, working hard for someone else. There is nothing wrong with that and that’s what most of us do across the world.

The cycle repeats, day after day, week after week, year after year even. A third of our day is spent at work. A third of our day is spent making someone else’s goals and visions come true. But…

How much time do you spend working on yourself?
How many books did you read last year?
How many times did you exercise last year?

Most people go to work and never think about working on themselves.This is true for our health, as well as our minds.

Rushing out the door, coffee on the way and grabbing whatever for breakfast is not taking care of your body. Sacrificing your heath and well-being for someone else just to pay the bills, that isn’t living a good life.

I’m not telling anyone to not work hard at your job. In fact, I’m saying the opposite; “Work hard at your job and be proud to do that but work harder on yourself.

Make yourself a priority. Taking daily action to improve yourself in every area of your life. Start a plan to improve your health if you need to. Start a plan to read, learn and educate yourself more on whatever subject you desire. Feed your mind with positive information that will motivate and inspire you. If you want the exact opposite of this, continue to read the newspaper and watch the TV.

As you begin to work harder on yourself, your output in your job will increase too so everyone wins here. When you work harder on yourself, every area of your life improves. Health, finances, relationships, family. Make a commitment to begin working on yourself today. It will be the best investment you ever make.