Jordan Ogren

April 20, 2022

Why the generation effect matters to you and I.

Have you ever heard of the generation effect?

Even though I have been doing it for over a year now, I didn't. So, let's define what it is:

The generation effect is a robust memory phenomenon in which actively producing material during encoding acts to improve later memory performance.

That's the highly scientific definition of it. 

I wanted to share it to show that this is something that many great minds have observed and dissected to determine its efficacy. Here's a similar definition:

The generation effect is a phenomenon where information is better remembered if it is generated from one's own mind rather than simply read. 

I would say I remember things much better when I write them down or with math, do the actual problem instead of watching someone do it. What about you? I think many would agree.

But what does this have to do with you and me? It's why working (or practicing) in public is so beneficial.

What is "working in public?" 

It's essentially what many other creators and I do: We explain things, share what's working and what's not, and do our work in public. 

We are generating ideas and expanding our skills in the view of others which brings more significant value than just consuming content or even doing work in private.

While the generation effect would still work in private, I feel that when you have no reason to do the work (i.e., I send a newsletter every Friday at 4 pm), you will skip out on it from time to time.

But when you're on the hook, as Seth Godin states in The Practice, you are more likely to ship. And when what you ship is you learning more, you double down on that learning. You remember it better in the future and thus become "better."

If your goal is to become better at something, I highly suggest doing the work in public. 

If that's coding, write about what you're learning and what's working.

If that's investing, write about the new terms you're learning or investing frameworks.

If it's running a business, write about what you're learning by running your business or department.

Doing this will cement the things you're learning.

Sadly, few do this. Instead, the majority hope that their experiences or the things they learn stick.

Rather than doing the work to double down and ensure they can recall and use those lessons later on when it matters.

If you currently don't do your work in public, what's the main obstacle in your way?

🧠 + ❤️ // JO