Boot Camp Technique

In contrast to the slow but steady technique for building strength, which how most skills should be acquired and developed over the time. There is a opposite technique which can be very useful if you need to break through a plateau.

The Boot Camp Technique

Taking the time to fully immerse yourself in work or training. This can be very important for developing Super Strength, but also has application to a number of other skills.

Colleagues and friends of mine have all noted different areas where a boot camp has been essential to get up to 'pro' level, for consulting, banking, coding(Nick Winter's Week of Code) or running a start-up(Paul Graham).  For many skills slow and steady practice allows you to build a base and grow and this method does not replace that need. However,  to break through to the next level of skill (be it building strategies, getting a business running or becoming a good coder) immersing yourself so deeply in the work that you eat, breathe and sleep it, while  hellacious  often will provide the push so that after you get past the pain and recover, you find a new set of super skills that have become almost unconscious.

This is not a technique to use all the time and overuse dramatically reduces its effectiveness, you need recovery time for it to be effective, but sometimes if you don't put in the focused time you won't build the skills you need.

If you decide to do a book camp -  how do you do it so you get the most out of it and don't simply kill yourself through over work?


  • Plan for a boot camp to make the time as productive as possible - define clear time blocks and actions, make a plan. The plan can change but start with a plan. 
  • Build the support before you start - establish background skills and information you need. Don't start cold! If you don't have good form at the start, your boot camp will make your bad form permanent.  The intensity and absorption of the endeavor will push you to a different level of skill and make things instinctual. Put in the reps and build the patterns, but don't build the wrong patterns. If you start your boot camp with good form, it may develop as you get deeper understanding through the boot camp but if you start with bad form it will get worse. 
  • Don't make it too long, returns diminish dramatically over time. 
  • Build in a recovery time, while you may see some improvement during the camp the real benefit is after when you recover and all of sudden, you can write great code in minutes, squat 50lbs more, and change the world.

Here is your boot camp checklist

1. Plan your goals
2. Block out the time to accomplish key things
3. Break down into pieces (at beginning and daily)
4. Focus on getting through as many pieces as possible (balance quality and volume)
5. Spend time on revision and polishing - every day
6. Wrap it up
7. Take a break
8. Do a post-mortem
9. Rest and practice skills

Good luck


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