So there’s one thing that applies to things outside go that I think is a definite correlation:
Studying go helps you learn how to study and acquire other skills.
Really, that’s a specific version of the more general statement of: Studying and reaching new heights helps you learn how to study other things and reach new heights.
So what do I mean by this?
Well, while the knowledge of “how to play go better” doesn’t help you nearly at all with other skills, you have to go through a certain process to obtain that information and actually be capable of using that information in a game. So if we want to know what actually does help, we need to look a bit more outside the box at the processes at work not only in game, but while studying.
So the first and most obvious thing is: to get better you need to practice decision making. That is weighing in certain values to determine which outcome is preferred in a more strategic sense. Yes, you do that partially using specific knowledge and feeling that is go-specific, but the more you practice actually weighing out the pros and cons of any decision, the better you get at being able to weigh out a different set of pros and cons, although it will not help you find said pros and cons.
The second and similarly obvious is the process of reading, or looking through possible responses and consequences: So while practice in go reading requires go-specific knowledge and intuition, just as decision making does, I firmly believe that reading as a skill relies heavily on reading as a habit. The important part is that you do it. This is often integrated into the decision process the “if I do this, what are the likely responses…” reasoning that is factored into the decision making above. But of course, this habit requires even more domain-specific knowledge, so it likely has even less of a noticeable correlation.
After this you go even more vague: Go as a practice and a study.
So in this regard is where the most easily transferred skills are. In fact, these are the ones I bring up to myself when I learn about new and better study habits.
Creating a habit of doing
Naturally whenever you study or practice something, the first thing you practice is making sure you do this thing every day. My lessons instructor when I first started taking lessons from her told me to schedule a time every day to practice clarinet to make it a habit, with the idea of making sure I was focused every time I sat down to practice. “Five minutes every day is better than two hours only before the lesson” is what she would tell me. She explained this in a manner of making sure that time was spent focused, but I think it’s a bit different than that. If you make sure you do it every day, you start feeling like you want to do it every day. And it got to the point where I no longer needed to schedule practice times for myself because I genuinely wanted to practice every day.
And I know this is a huge dump with clarinet, but I have a feeling this is the same with go: the more often you do it, the more motivated you will be to do it, and the easier it will be to study and learn more about the game.
Not doing too much of one thing at once (spaced and interleaved practice)
So I was told once that pros never sit down for tsumego more than 15 minutes at a time, and space out those practices within the day to eventually get multiple hours in. Whether or not this is true, it reflects something I read in the book “make it stick” about practices in teaching and studying: you learn things slower when you mix them together and space them apart, but you also learn them for longer. When you go for hours at once doing tsumego, you can accidentally only commit those to short-term memory, and not actually retain them for longer periods of time, but if you space it out and only do those 15 minute sections, you don’t see the results quite as quickly, but you begin to commit those to long term memory more often.
- Just having fun with it:
I mentioned this before, but motivation is the key idea behind learning any skill. Because learning skills is hard, and it sucks, and you wanna be better now. But if you can have fun and enjoy what you’re doing, then it becomes just that much easier to follow good study practice and retain the information you’re learning and using.
Sorry that all of this is very vague, and maybe there are a few more directly transferable skills in go, but it’s hard to find evidence that go improves any other skill directly, and it’s much easier to talk about habits and how those influence your daily life and lead to other changes in skill because of those habits. So while none of these come directly from just playing go, they are habits you build by studying properly and learning to get better at the game, especially if you had to actually train them to get better.
PS: sorry about the huge wall of text, but this is something I’ve thought about a few times and felt like it was a great place to actually say it.