Input/Output Oscillation

The 50/50 Rule: Learn for 50% of the time and explain what you learn for 50% of the time. (Thomas Oppong)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the optimal input/output ratio [<link; short read] for learning?”

“Which is more important, the input or the output?”

“The output – processing information, implementation/experimentation, explaining what you’ve learned, deliberate practice.”

“Our tendency is to lean towards the input because it’s easy. Spending a few hours absorbing information gives you the illusion of learning. But your efficiency is so low that you’d have been better off using that time elsewhere.

The main principle of Essentialism applies here as well:

Less, but better.

The input/output ratio is a useful metric to get a general sense of how well you’re doing. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. 

Efficiency emerges from the structure of the learning process.

Let’s compare two structures:

(1) Half the day input, half the day output.

(2) Alternating between a pomodoro (30m) of input and a pomodoro of output, for the same total duration.

Both amount to the same input/output ratio at the end of the day, but in terms of efficiency, (2) is vastly superior.”

“Why is it superior?”

“Because it integrates the input with the output into one structure. You no longer conceive of input without immediate output. The input and the output together form a learning cycle.

Learning Cycle = Input + Output

Also because you get faster feedback. Feedback on what you’ve just learned, but also on the efficiency of the learning process itself.” 

“So every learning cycle is also an optimization cycle.”


To increase efficiency, decrease the distance between input and output. Get more cycles in.

It can be 1 pomodoro of input / 1 pomodoro of output.
It can even be 1/2 pomodoro of input / 1/2 pomodoro of output.”

“Does it have to be 50/50?”

“That’s a useful guideline. But don’t take it as gospel. Experiment, see what input/output ratio works best for you.”

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About Dani Trusca

Life-Artist, Thinker, Mover (Traceur)

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