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What I Don’t Know.txt

One of the problems with trying to improve is that you don’t know what you don’t know. I don’t have any solution to this problem (if you do have a solution, please let me know). But there are sometimes clues, occasions when you realise that there is a blind spot in your knowledge. It may be during a conversation and a topic comes up that you realise that you really ought to know about but never got around to it. It might become apparent when trying to solve a problem that there is a technology or system that you kind of know about but not in enough detail to be able to help.

The problem is that it is very easy to forget about the blind spot as soon as the topic changes or the problem gets solved. Rather than using these occasions as an opportunity to prompt new learning, we move on to think of the next conversation or problem, blissfully ignorant again about the gap in our knowledge.

For the last few weeks I have attempted to avoid missing out on these opportunities. I have a text file that is synced between my phone and my computer called What I Dont know.txt. This document simply has a list of topics. When I come across an area that I feel I ought to know more about, I quickly write it down and add it to the list at the next opportunity. Then, when picking which book or blog or podcast I want to listen to next, I can refer to the list, picking one topic to close out.

I haven’t been doing it long, but I have managed to tick off some areas that have bothered me for years, yet I never got around to looking up before now. I am sure there is plenty out there that I don’t know, but at least I have a few less blank spots to worry about.

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