Your weekend reading is here as today we present a guest post on the subjects of deep chess training and how to track your training with Toggl.

Martin B. Justesen, an adult chess improver from Denmark, is our guest writer for today. Martin is sharing some thoughts from The Say Chess Blog.

Martin’s new book, Blindfold Endgame Visualization, is already gathering extremely positive reviews. Further details can be found here.

We shall return to the book in a future post, but for now it is time to hand over to Martin to see what he has in store for us.

Deep Chess Training and How to Track your Training with Toggl

One problem I have come across in my own chess training, again and again, is distractions. From the noise, my phone, TV, social media, and my own ability to keep focused on one task. The connectedness of our world has the downside that we are connected almost all the time! That’s maybe why I miss over the board chess since I’m in a protected bubble for three-five hours.

Cal Newport’s book Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, which I can warmly recommend, has four interesting ideas related to chess practice: work deeply, distance yourself from social media, embrace boredom, drain the shallows.

Deep Work

Here are my takeaways from the book in relation to chess.

Work Deeply

Do not allow distractions, and try not to set yourself up to fail by playing chess on a computer with 20 browser tabs open. If you can go offline if you are working on a PC or sit with a chess book. Try to work as long as possible on a task to train your brain to focus, before switching to a new task or finishing your session.

Distance Yourself from Social Media

Social Media is killing your focus, and should be kept on a long-distance when calculating difficult lines! I often end up checking Twitter, getting distracted and losing my focus when I run into a hard problem, so I know this is a real area of improvement for me.

Embrace Boredom

Allow your mind to get bored sometimes instead of filling it up with apps, playing Blitz, distractions, and small tasks. Cal Newport points out that recent research suggests that if your brain has time to rest it will be more creative afterward. The creativity will hopefully also benefit your chess.

Drain the Shallows

In regards to chess, this rule can be interpreted as trying to cut unnecessary activities in order to focus on the important stuff. Eliminate all pointless distractions. Maybe you should clean up your phone for useless chess apps. Sort your chess courses on Chessable and select the few courses to focus on instead of switching between 10 courses. Quality over quantity.

Chessable DashboardI have selected three courses to work on in 2021 and removed all the other courses on Chessable (soo many lines still to learn!)

In regards to phone use, Newport has coined the phrase ‘Digital Minimalism’ in his newest book, which is a way of carefully selecting a few digital tools, instead of having 40-50 apps sending you notifications all the time.

I focus on this because many chess training tools now are found as apps, chess books are now read on an app too, and you play chess on your phone as well. Another important point is that you can free a lot of time up if you cut down on your phone use. I can definitely find a lot more time by going on a digital diet!

How to Use Toggl for Tracking your Chess Training

In order to be more mindful about my own time and cut down on distractions, I have started to use Toggl to track my chess training time (it’s free to use as a single user). I have previously tried different ways to track my training, but never really discovered the right platform and way to do it. However, Toggl seems perfect. You can use it both in your browser or as an app on your phone. Here is a short video about Toggl.

Video made by Toggl to show how it works in one minute

At first sight, it might look like it is made for law firms, but with a little tweaking, it is perfect for tracking your chess. What in businesses are named projects I have used to make focus areas in my chess training, with projects called Calculation/Tactics, Chess playing, Endgames, Game analysis/Masters Games, Middlegame/Strategy, Openings.

Training with Toggl

Toggl Dashboard

You can of course make your own names and projects. For example, if you want to track how much time you waste on bullet (one-minute chess), you can make a project called Bullet chess.

When you start tracking you can follow your weekly progress and see how you spend your time on chess.

…and we will find out more about the process in the next instalment from Martin, which will follow soon. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, why not sign up for Martin’s newsletter and also follow him in these places:

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