There are three phases of progress:
- Acquisition of tools,
- Conceptual learning, and
- Conscious application.
Acquisition of Tools
Acquiring new, better equipment seems like the fastest improvement, especially in the beginning. With each tool and each new way of using it, your skills seem to grow.
Of course, a minimum amount of equipment is necessary to learn anything at all. You can't learn to write without pen and paper.
However, many people get stuck in this phase, looking for the “perfect” tool. They are always trying out equipment or frequently switching note-taking apps, for example. However, the law of diminishing returns states that the actual progress continues to diminish with every new tool.
You should limit yourself to the bare minimum of equipment, especially in the beginning, and then try out needed tools over time and integrate them into your workflow. You don't need pen and paper at all to learn to write - in the beginning, a stick with which you draw letters in the ground is also sufficient.
In the second phase of progress, you learn facts, theoretical concepts, and background knowledge to be able to connect information. Learning these things is important so that your skills are built on a foundation.
However, you can also invest too much energy here. You spend too much time preparing more and more without ever doing anything. Excessive planning is at least as bad as too little.
In this phase, you don't develop your skills, you just consume. In short, you do not apply your knowledge – but without application, your skills will not develop further.
In the last phase, you do something. You use your equipment and apply your knowledge to actively create something new. This is the only way to learn and improve in the long run. This phase is the only one in which you receive feedback on your actions and in which you can improve.
Conscious application is a state of active engagement with a task. To get here, you need the two preliminary stages. Nevertheless, they are no more than that: steps that must be taken in order to then finally do something. The first two stages are not an end in themselves and can also run in parallel.
You should get the bare minimum of tools, learn only the basics beforehand, and then start working on the task according to the motto “learning by doing.” Progress is better than perfection.
You can still buy new equipment and learn new things – but the improvements that will occur would not be possible without conscious application and disciplined work.